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How can stress cause amenorrhea?

Stress is a fairly common cause of short-term amenorrhea or fluctuations in the menstrual cycle. Stress can be caused by outside factors, excessive exercise, depression, or eating disorders. Intense mental stress can disrupt the normal process of your hypothalamus, which is located in your brain and controls the functions of the pituitary gland and menstruation. If the hypothalamus malfunctions, the pituitary gland decreases production of hormones that it sends to the ovaries to promote ovulation. This causes the ovaries to stop sending eggs through the fallopian tubes into the uterus, and menstruation stops. However, menstruation and ovulation can return to normal after stress levels decrease.

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