What is secondary amenorrhea?
Amenorrhea is the absence of menstrual bleeding in a woman of childbearing age. A woman who has primary amenorrhea has never had a period by age 16 while a woman with secondary has encountered loss of menstrual bleeding when she previously had a monthly period.
Causes of Amenorrhea
Amenorrhea causes can include pregnancy, lactation, or cessation of birth control pills. It is normal to miss several periods right after stopping oral contraception. Stress can also cause loss of menstruation as can extreme obesity. It isn’t helpful to go on crash diets and lose a lot of weight at once, however, as this can cause menstrual irregularities too.
If you have begun a very rigorous exercise regimen, this can be a cause of amenorrhea. If you are approaching menopause, you may begin to skip periods as well.
What causes amenorrhea is the failure of the ovaries to produce enough estrogen to cause the uterine lining to thicken and then shed each month.
What is hypothalamic amenorrhea?
One of the most common types of amenorrhea is hypothalamic amenorrhea. Hypothalamic refers to the hypothalamus gland, a tiny gland at the base of the brain that acts as a hormone regulator for the entire body. This hormone regulation also includes the menstrual cycle.
It’s a good idea to have a thorough workup done, including blood work to check for abnormal hormone levels. Blood work should include FSH, LH, TSH, and prolactin levels. A progesterone challenge test can be helpful as well.
Herbs such as vitex are effective treatments in promoting hormonal balance and health. Black cohosh contains phyto-estrogenic properties which are also effective in correcting menstrual irregularities.
In addition, Siberian ginseng is a highly respected Chinese herb that is helpful in regulating the menstrual cycle and improving hormonal balance. Dong quai promotes a healthy reproductive system and menstrual health.