Amenorrhea rarely poses any immediate threat to your health, but sometimes it may signify a significant underlying condition that may affect your reproductive health. Amenorrhea is a condition in which there is an absence of a menstrual period. There are two kinds: Primary amenorrhea describes the condition of a woman who's never menstruated, while secondary amenorrhea is the lack of menses for more than six months in a woman who's previously had a regular cycle. The most common reasons for amenorrhea are pregnancy and menopause, but other explanations include eating disorders, intense stress, excessive exercise or hormonal imbalance.
Having amenorrhea can greatly affect a woman's ability to reproduce. Most women with amenorrhea experience anovulation, which is a medical term referring to the inability to produce viable eggs from the ovaries. Ovulation is critical for the formation and release of mature eggs during the reproductive process; the absence of ovulation prevents any occurrence of conception.
Amenorrhea is associated with a decrease of estrogen production and an increase of testosterone. On the exterior, therefore, women may have develop excess facial hair and a decrease in breast size. In addition, estrogen deficiency, or hypoestrogenism, directly affects bone density. Estrogen continues to decrease as bone loss and stress fractures become more prevalent due to the prolonged suppression of the reproductive system. Premenopausal women who don't seek treatment for estrogen deficiency are more likely to develop osteoporosis and are subsequently at a greater risk for postmenopausal bone loss.
The production of too many androgenic hormones, particularly testosterone, causes an ovarian imbalance that can lead to ovarian cysts--Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one such condition. PCOS prevents the follicles from generating mature eggs, and when there's no egg production, the follicles expand with fluid, forming cysts. PCOS prevents the body from processing insulin levels efficiently, and therefore, patients with PCOS commonly experience weight gain, insulin resistance and are high-risk candidates for type 2 diabetes mellitus.