Amenorrhea is a mostly common affliction representing the lack of a menstrual period in women who are at a reproductive age. It is a condition firstly seen when a woman is pregnant or lactating. This can also manifest itself as a natural contraception in the period immediate after giving birth, while the woman is breast-feeding; this is known as lactational amenorrhea. Amenorrhea occurs where the reproductive age isn’t in question, like during childhood – before puberty and the apparition of a menstrual period – and when the reproductive age has passed, later in age, which we know as menopause. This is when the woman loses fertility and is thus unable to give birth without artificial methods.
But amenorrhea can be caused by a number of things, thus becoming a simple symptom. For example, we have primary amenorrhea, where menstruation never even starts and it can be caused by problems in development, like a lack of uterus – a condition the woman was born with. Primary amenorrhea can also be caused by the ovaries’ failure to collect and retain egg cells, or by various genetic diseases which can make a person have intersex issues. Intersex refers to those people who are born with a hormonal, genital and gonad confusion, meaning they have both female and male chromosomes. A delayed puberty can also cause primary amenorrhea, which can result in a lack of secondary sexual characteristics and no menarche by the age of fourteen, or in a presence of secondary sexual characteristics but with no menarche by the age of sixteen.
Secondary sexual characteristics are what we consider as special features of one’s sex, though they are not necessarily related to reproductive functions, and menarche is the medical as well as colloquial term for the first instance of menstruation, which is considered a central point in a young girl’s puberty and the first sign of fertility.
Another type of amenorrhea is termed secondary amenorrhea and it manifests itself through a cease of menstruation cycles; though it is primarily present as a symptom of menopause or premature menopause, it can also occur as a result of other damage or trauma to the body, like an intrauterine scar formation. The menstrual periods need to cease for at least three months in normal women and for at least nine in women who suffer from oligomenorrhoea – which is a condition where the woman only has three or four menstrual periods a year – for it to be called secondary amenorrhea. However, there are treatments or at least a state of normalcy for some of these conditions, so its manifestations shouldn’t alarm us.