Amenorrhea: the Absence of a Menstrual Cycle

There is such a thing as having no menstrual cycle. However, if you don't begin menstruating by the age of sixteen, there are some birth defects and potentially serious conditions that can prevent menstruation. It's important to diagnose these as soon as possible. There's usually a hormonal imbalance that is easily remedied with oral contraceptives or hormonal supplements. If you're menstruating regularly, and are between the ages of twenty and forty, it's unusual to simply stop menstruating. If this does occur, pregnancy, obesity (fat cells make more estrogen than your body needs, which interferes with ovulation), food refusal (anorexia nervosa), or vomiting/purging (bulimia) are common causes. When the problem is starvation-related, a protective mechanism is triggered in the body. When the female body is malnourished, it stops ovulating because it can't sustain a pregnancy. One doctor told me about an aboriginal tribe inAustralia that demonstrates this unique protective mechanism. Women of that particular tribe menstruate only at certain times of the year, when the food cycle is abundant. Athletes, again, may experience amenorrhea, and either an overactive or underactive thyroid gland can cause it. Progesterone supplements will remedy it. If you skip periods, medication may be prescribed in either progesterone or oral contraceptive form.

Menorrhagia: Extremely Heavy Flow

If you have an extremely heavy flow, it may be normal for you. A lighter flow can also slowly develop into a continuous heavy flow, or you may experience an isolated bout with it. In general, if you need to change your pad or tampon every hour, your bleeding may be unusually heavy. You'll need to get this checked out. There usually isn't anything to worry about. You should have your blood levels checked regularly (every six months), however, because consistent heavy flows could cause anemia. In fact, the number-one cause of anemia is a heavy menstrual flow. If this is the case, have a doctor evaluate you to uncover an underlying cause of your heavy bleeding. If no specific abnormality is found, the flow can be decreased with oral contraceptives.


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