Basic information for topics, such as "What is it?" and "How many people are affected?" is available in the About Amenorrhea section. Answers to other Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) specific to amenorrhea are in this section.
An important part of the menstrual cycle is the production of the hormone estrogen. Estrogen also plays a role in bone health. If amenorrhea is caused by low estrogen or problems with estrogen production, a woman may be at risk for loss of bone mass.
Some common causes of estrogen deficiency are excessive exercise and eating disorders. These can have a negative effect on bone density. Adolescent girls in particular need a combination of calcium, vitamin D, and physical activity to build strong bones during this critical time. Years ago, researchers found that girls with amenorrhea who diet are at risk for low bone density and that this condition increases their risk for osteoporosis later in life.1
Amenorrhea that results from Fragile X-associated primary ovarian insufficiency (FXPOI) also increases the risk for osteoporosis. It is important to see your health care provider as early as possible to begin investigating the cause of amenorrhea. According to one study, two-thirds of adolescent girls who reported FXPOI also had osteopenia, an early stage of osteoporosis, at their first visit.2
If you have had regular periods or if there is any chance you may be pregnant, check with your health care provider about a missed period right away.
If you are just beginning to menstruate, keep in mind that it may take several months for your menstrual cycle to become regular. As you age, the time from the beginning of one cycle to the beginning of the next will likely range from 21 to 35 days, but your periods should become more regular over time.
See your health care provider right away if:
- You have not started menstruating by the age of 16.
- You have not started menstruating within 3 years after you developed breasts, or if you have not started developing breasts by age 13.
- You have not had a period for more than 3 months.
- Your periods become very irregular after you previously had regular, monthly cycles.3
Yes, you can still get pregnant even if you do not have regular periods. Although some of the conditions that cause amenorrhea can also contribute to infertility, there is still a chance for pregnancy.
In addition, certain medical treatments for amenorrhea can increase the chances of pregnancy. If you do not want to become pregnant and you have amenorrhea, you should use contraception to prevent pregnancy.
Some women believe that they cannot get pregnant if they are breastfeeding and they aren't having menstrual periods. Unless a woman has gone through menopause, there is always the chance that she could get pregnant.
If you are breastfeeding and want to prevent pregnancy, you should use a form of birth control to do so.
- Gordon, C. M., & Nelson, L. M. (2003). Amenorrhea and bone health in adolescents and young women. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 15, 377−384.
- ACOG. (2014). ACOG Committee Opinion: Primary ovarian insufficiency in the adolescent. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2014/07/primary-ovarian-insufficiency-in-adolescents-and-young-women
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. (2014). Menstruation and the menstrual cycle fact sheet. Retrieved May 31, 2016, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menstruation.html (PDF 110 KB)