What Is Amenorrhea? What It Could Mean If You’re Not Getting Your Period

When it comes to health topics, sometimes there are some words out there that are kind of intimidating. That’s okay – it’s just important to break them down a little bit to understand just what they are. Maybe in reading about your body or looking up women’s health topics, you’ve come across the term “amenorrhea.”

Let’s first start with how to say it. It rhymes with “gonorrhea” but instead of the “gonor” part, it’s just “amen.” A-men-or-ee-a. Okay, so once you can say it, the next thing is to obviously know what it means. Amenorrhea is medical terminology and it’s the official way of saying that you’re not getting your period.

From there, it can be broken down into two classifications: primary and secondary. If you still haven’t had your period at all by the time you turn 16, that’s what’s known as “primary amenorrhea.”

“Secondary amenorrhea” is if you stop getting your period, even though you’ve had it before. While having an irregular period is often normal, it gets labeled as secondary amenorrhea if the absence of your period has been over three cycles or sixth months.

So the natural question is why would someone not have their period, and the thing is that there are a whole lot of answers. If you’re not getting your period and are sexually active, it could be that you’re pregnant, so your doctor would first test for that. If that’s not the case, amenorrhea is often a symptom of something else or a side effect of a change to your body.

The thing is that there really are many possibilities. It could be a result of stress or excessive exercise or losing weight. If you’re into sports, you may have heard of it in relation to the “female athlete triad” – the triad being amenorrhea, disordered eating and osteoporosis – which is a found in some female athletes.

Other possibilities include a side effect of your medication (including some birth control), hormone-related reasons, an issue with your reproductive organs, or an indication of another medical condition.

In any case, if you’re not getting your period for an extended time, it’s important to take it seriously and talk with your doctor. Treatment of amenorrhea really depends on what’s causing it, and because there are so many possibilities, it will take your doctor’s help to pinpoint the issue and get it figured out. She can perform any necessary examinations or tests that will hopefully find the cause and develop a treatment plan.

So amenorrhea may be an unfamiliar word, but it means something both straightforward, and important. It’s an example of why it’s important to take time to look up things up to better inform yourself about women’s health. If you come across the term online or in a book, now you know exactly what it means. If you feel like you might be experiencing amenorrhea, definitely speak up so you and your doctor can figure out the cause from one of those many possibilities.

Had you ever heard of amenorrhea before? Tell me in the comments!

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  • anong

    Had this as a side-effect of anorexia. I highly recommend seeing a doctor and getting help if you’re in the same boat I was in. :$