What can cause absence of menstrual periods apart from pregnancy?
Absence of menstrual periods is medically referred to as “amenorrhoea”. It can be either primary or secondary depending on the causes
When a sexually active female of reproductive age misses her menstrual period, the first thing she thinks of is pregnancy. However, there are other many more causes of missed periods as described below apart from pregnancy unless proven otherwise
Primary amenorrhoea is failure to experience menstrual periods with no previous experience of it. It can be caused by:
- Genetic abnormalities can cause the ovaries to stop functioning normally.
- Abnormalities in the brain acquired at earlier life which negatively affects hormones responsible for menstrual periods
- Physical problems with reproductive organs such as missing parts or incomplete normal development which hinders onset of periods
- Excessive exercise, eating disorders, extreme physical or psychological stress, or a combination of these factors can delay the onset of menstruation.
Secondary amenorrhoea is absence of periods even after an individual has experienced them previously and can result from various causes, such as:
- Menopause – normal cessation of periods at an older age
- Certain birth control pills, injectable contraceptives, and intrauterine devices (IUDs) can cause amenorrhoea. It can take a few months after stopping birth control for the menstrual cycle to restart and become regular.
- Some medications, including certain antidepressants and blood pressure medications, can increase the levels of a hormone that prevents ovulation and the menstrual cycle, drugs for treatment of blood, breast or ovarian cancer
- Wide spread scars in the lining of the uterus as a complication unsafe abortion, cesarean section or any surgical procedures in the uterus
- Low body weight, low percentage of body fat, very low intake of calories or fat
- Emotional stress
- Strenuous exercise that burns more calories than are taken in through food
- Some medical conditions or illnesses like polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid gland diseases, and abnormalities in the pituitary gland (part of the brain which produces and stores some hormones)
You need to visit a health care facility if you’ve missed two or more menstrual periods if at all pregnancy was previously ruled out