Amenorrhea

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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What is the treatment for amenorrhea?

Treatment of primary and secondary amenorrhea is determined by the specific cause. Treatment goals can be to relieve symptoms of hormonal imbalance, establish menstruation, prevent complications, and/or to achieve fertility, although not all of these goals can be achieved in every case.

In cases in which genetic or anatomical abnormalities are the cause of amenorrhea (typically primary amenorrhea), surgery may be recommended.

Hypothalamic amenorrhea that is related to weight loss, excessive exercise, physical illness, or emotional stress can typically be corrected by addressing the underlying cause. For example, weight gain and reduction in intensity of exercise can usually restore menstrual periods in women who have developed amenorrhea due to weight loss or overly intensive exercise who do not have additional causes of amenorrhea. In some cases, nutritional counseling may be of benefit.

In premature ovarian failure, hormone therapy may be recommended both to avoid the unpleasant symptoms of estrogen depletion as well as prevent complications (see below) of low estrogen level such as osteoporosis. This may consist of oral contraceptive pills for those women who do not desire pregnancy or alternative estrogen and progesterone medications. While postmenopausal hormone therapy has been associated with certain health risks in older women, younger women with premature ovarian failure can benefit from this therapy to prevent bone loss.

Women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) may benefit from treatments that reduce the level or activity of male hormones, or androgens.

Dopamine agonist medications such as bromocriptine (Parlodel) can reduce elevated prolactin levels, which may be responsible for amenorrhea. Consequently, medication levels may be adjusted by the person's physician if appropriate.

Assisted reproductive technologies and the administration of gonadotropin medications (drugs that stimulate follicle maturation in the ovaries) can be appropriate for women with some types of amenorrhea who wish to attempt to become pregnant.

While many companies and individuals have marketed herbal therapies as a treatment for amenorrhea, none of these have been conclusively proved to be of benefit. These therapies are not regulated by the U.S. FDA and the quality of herbal preparations is not tested. Herbal remedies have been associated with serious and even fatal side effects in rare cases, and some preparations have been shown to contain high levels of toxins. Before deciding to take a natural or alternative remedy for amenorrhea, it is wise to seek the advice of your health care practitioner.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/16/2016

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