Amenorrhea is the absence of a menstrual period in women during their reproductive peak, 18 to 24 years of age. Menstruation is controlled by the hypothalamus, which is a part of the brain. The hypothalamus also controls body temperature, appetite, and blood pressure. In order for a woman to menstruate regularly the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the ovaries, and the uterus must all be functioning properly. Amenorrhea affects about 2 to 5 percent of all women in their reproductive peak.
There are two types of amenorrhea—primary and secondary. Primary amenorrhea occurs when a woman has not had her first menstrual period by the age of 16. This is usually fairly common in teenage girls who are very athletic or have abnormally low body fat. Secondary amenorrhea occurs when a woman who has menstruated previously fails to menstruate for six consecutive months. The levels of female reproductive hormones in amenorrheic women are not sufficient to stimulate menstruation. This condition is common in individuals who are malnourished, or suffer from anorexia nervosa. There is also a strong association between amenorrhea and stress. This disease can can result in early bone loss and increased risk of osteoporosis.
Symptoms of Amenorrhea
The main symptom of amenorrhea is the absence of a menstrual period. Women affected by this disorder may experience headaches, visual loss, and weight gain or loss.
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