What increases my risk for amenorrhea?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Because amenorrhea can be caused by a number of conditions, several risk factors must be considered:

  • Undernourishment, eating disorders or low body fat put you at risk for amenorrhea or the absence of menstrual periods and can cause other medical complications.
  • Excessive or over-strenuous exercise can also stress both your hormonal and reproductive systems and lead to amenorrhea.
  • If you take drugs such as contraceptives or antidepressants, you run the risk of menstrual irregularities.
  • If you have had uterine surgery such as dilation and curettage (D&C), a cesarean section or a removal of uterine fibroids, you may develop Asherman's syndrome, in which scarred uterine tissue accumulates in the uterus and can block regular menstruation.

Depending on the cause of amenorrhea, it can be known to occur in members of the same family. For example, if primary amenorrhea was caused by a rare genetic disorder such as Boucher-Neuhäuser syndrome, it can be passed down between generations. Your doctor will probably ask about family history when trying to determine the cause of your amenorrhea, to rule out certain genetic abnormalities or diseases. Some conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and primary ovarian insufficiency do tend to run in families and can cause secondary amenorrhea. However, many causes of secondary amenorrhea (pregnancy, low body weight, stress, or even a hormonal imbalance) are circumstantial and are not passed down genetically.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.