Amenorrhea, or the absence of menstruation, occurs for a variety of reasons. Teenage girls may experience primary amenorrhea if they have not started menstruating by age 16, according to Medline Plus. However, secondary amenorrhea that occurs in women of childbearing age who normally have a monthly period can be of concern. If you’re a woman of childbearing age who is not pregnant or breast-feeding, and you have stopped menstruating for more than three cycles or six months, talk with your health-care provider. Proper nutrition can help prevent or treat some causes of amenorrhea.
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If you’ve stopped menstruating, it’s helpful to determine the cause of your amenorrhea. If you’re over age 45, amenorrhea may be related to menopause. Take a pregnancy test to help rule out pregnancy. Nutrition- and lifestyle-related causes of amenorrhea include too much exercise, losing excessive weight, excessive weight gain or obesity, eating disorders, poor nutrition and too little body fat. Other causes of amenorrhea in women include stress, anxiety, hormone imbalance, the use of certain forms of contraception, endocrine disorders or other forms of reproductive disorders.
Tip 1: Caloric Intake
If you’re overweight and trying to lose weight, consume enough calories to prevent excessive weight loss and amenorrhea. If you’re overweight, the American Dietetic Association recommends you lose weight at a safe and effective rate of 1 to 2 Ibs. per week. This should prevent amenorrhea-associated weight loss. Reduce your daily calorie intake by 500 to 1,000 calories per day, or combine calorie reduction with increased physical activity to create a deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day.
Tip 2: Nutrient Needs
Consume adequate nutrients each day, including vitamins, minerals and protein, to help prevent amenorrhea. The Institute of Medicine recommends women consume at least 46 g of protein per day, and pregnant and nursing women consume at least 71 g of protein per day. Take a multivitamin supplement to help prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Consume your recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for iron, since iron plays an important role in red blood cell formation and is especially important for menstruating women. The RDA for iron for women ages 19 to 50 is 18 mg per day.
Tip 3: Healthy Body Fat
Consume enough calories and fat to maintain a healthy body fat percentage. Medline Plus reports that women with body fat percentages less than 15 to 17 percent are more likely to experience amenorrhea. The Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board encourages all adults to consume 20 to 35 percent of their daily calorie intake from dietary fats. This means if you consume a 2,000-calorie daily diet, 400 to 700 of your calories, or 44 g to 78 g, should come from fat.