Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2006;73(8):1387

See related article on amenorrhea.

What is amenorrhea?

Amenorrhea (say: uh-men-or-EE-uh) is when you don’t have periods. You can have primary or secondary amenorrhea. Primary amenorrhea is when you haven’t had a period by 14 to 16 years of age. Secondary amenorrhea is when you have had normal periods but then you don’t have one for three or more months in a row. You should see your doctor if you think you have amenorrhea.

What causes amenorrhea?

You can have amenorrhea if any of your reproductive organs are missing or aren’t working right or if you don’t have the right amount of certain hormones in your body.

Your doctor may ask you questions about your health and your family’s health and examine you. Your doctor may need to do special tests to find out why you aren’t having periods.

How is amenorrhea treated?

It depends on what’s causing your amenorrhea. It may be as simple as changing your diet and exercise program. You may need birth control pills or other medicines. Rarely, surgery is needed. Sometimes, the periods don’t return.

How can I protect myself?

  • See your doctor if you have missed three or more periods in a row.

  • If your periods aren’t the same every month, write down when they start and how long they last and give this information to your doctor.

  • Stay a healthy weight with diet and exercise.

  • Find out if you have any family members with similar problems with their periods.

  • Remember that it is still possible to get pregnant even if you aren’t having periods every month.

Where can I get more information?

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