Pediatric Amenorrhea

Pediatric Amenorrhea

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Summary

Pediatric amenorrhea occurs when a female doesn’t have a menstrual cycle (period).

Expanded overview

A young woman’s first menstrual cycle can begin anywhere from age 8 to 14. If it arrives late, or stops, the problem is diagnosed as amenorrhea.

Causes

There are a variety of reasons a female can have amenorrhea, including conditions that affect hormones or anatomy. Causes include:

  • Brain tumors – if a girl develops a tumor in/on her pituitary gland (pituitary adenoma) or near it (craniopharyngioma), it can prevent ovulation and create hormone imbalances.
  • Birth defects – there are several physical abnormalities that impact the reproductive system, including missing ovaries, cloacal abnormalities, missing vagina and duplicated uterus.
  • Eating disorders – menstruation will stop if a girl’s body weight drops too low.
  • Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism (over or underactive thyroid) – the thyroid gland makes hormones that regulate metabolism, and imbalances will lead to menstrual issues.
  • Ovulation issues – a period can either be late or not occur due to irregular ovulation.
  • Pregnancy – periods stop during pregnancy.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – this hormonal condition causes enlarged ovaries and cysts.
  • Too little or too much body fat – abnormal amounts of body fat will cause ovulation problems.

Types

There are two types of amenorrhea:

  • Primary amenorrhea – occurs when a female doesn’t start her menstrual cycle by age 15, and could be a lifelong problem.
  • Secondary amenorrhea – occurs when a female’s period stops for three months or more, and typically occurs later in life.

Symptoms

The main symptom of amenorrhea is a missing period. Other symptoms include:

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