Amenorrhea: Treatments, Symptoms, and Common Causes
Amenorrhea is a condition followed by the absence of menstruation. Although it’s normal during the pregnancy, one or more missed menstrual periods without a particular reason may be signs of an underlying condition.
The amenorrhea causes are various. It may come as a result of natural processes, but it may also indicate a disorder that needs special attention. One of the potential treatment options includes the Eastern medicine approaches, such as Chinese herbal therapies and acupuncture – these solutions are often combined in order to provide the best results, they’re safe and incredibly efficient.
This article will tell you more about amenorrhea, its definition, causes, and signs, and lead you through the process of treating amenorrhea with acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and Traditional Chinese Medicine in general.
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Mike Woodworth, a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist from Makari Wellness, understands the importance of having a healthy and happy family. Therefore, he does his best to provide the most efficient treatments for problems with amenorrhea and infertility while focusing on the patient’s overall physical and emotional health.
Feel free to call us at (888) 871-8889 and experience the best amenorrhea treatment at our full-service family acupuncture clinic in San Diego, CA.
What is Amenorrhea?
Amenorrhea is the absence of menstrual periods. It’s a common sign during pregnancy, menopause, and breastfeeding, but if it occurs regardless of these factors, it may indicate a more complex issue.
Women who have missed at least three periods in a row have amenorrhea, as well as girls who haven’t begun menstruation by age 15. You should know that amenorrhea is not a disease, and it doesn’t mean that a woman is infertile. The best way to solve the issue is by treating the underlying condition that might be causing the problem.
There are three main types of amenorrhea:
Primary amenorrhea is when periods do not start during puberty. The National Institute of Health suggests seeking medical help if periods do not begin by the age of 15/16. However, primary amenorrhea is quite rare.
Secondary amenorrhea is when the periods start, but then they stop due to some reason. This is normal during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause, but it may also mean that there is a health problem that requires attention.
Secondary amenorrhea is often diagnosed after a woman who used to have regular menstrual cycles missed periods for three months or used to have irregular periods and does not have any for six months.
You’ll probably be asked to do a pregnancy test in this case.
Hypothalamic amenorrhea can be observed as a type of secondary amenorrhea, but it’s also seen as a separate condition. It manifests through the absence of menstrual periods due to a problem that involves the hypothalamus, which is in the center of the brain and responsible for controlling the reproduction.
Hypothalamic amenorrhea is one of the most common causes of infertility since it reduces the production of hormones such as FSH, LH, and estrogen, which are vital for the conception process.
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What are the Most Common Amenorrhea Symptoms?
The most frequent sign of amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation. Depending on the disorder’s underlying cause, you may experience different symptoms, along with not having periods. These signs include:
- Excess facial hair
- Hair loss
- Milky nipple discharge
- Pelvic pain
- Vision changes.
Those who’re experiencing primary amenorrhea may notice the lack of breast development.
What are the Causes of Amenorrhea?
The leading cause of primary and secondary amenorrhea differs in some aspects. The most common cause of primary amenorrhea is a family history of the missed menstrual cycle, but sometimes there is a genetic problem.
These genetic problems usually include:
- Turner syndrome
- Androgen insensitivity syndrome, which leads to increased levels of testosterone
- Müllerian defect refers to the malformation of the reproductive organs where the uterus and fallopian tubes do not form in the way they should.
The causes of secondary amenorrhea can be quite diverse, and they include:
- A gynecological disorder
- A severe underlying illness
- Increased levels of stress
- A very low body mass index (BMI); if BMI falls below 19, it’s more likely to have amenorrhea.
However, some other factors can impact amenorrhea, and they are:
A Long-Term Use of Medication
Long-term use of medications may harm your overall health and cause certain imbalances that lead to amenorrhea. Women who used to take birth control pills may not have periods even after they’ve stopped taking them since it may take some time before regular menstruation and ovulation return. Apart from contraceptive pills, these types of medication can also trigger amenorrhea:
- Allergy meds
- Blood pressure drugs
- Chemotherapy for treating cancer.
Underlying Health Conditions
Many long-term health conditions may lead to the absence of a menstrual cycle, and they are often related to the reproductive system. Once your practitioner determines the underlying disease you’re dealing with, they will focus on its treatment and solve the problems with amenorrhea. Underlying health conditions usually lead to hormonal imbalances, which we’re about to explain.
Hormonal imbalances are one of the most common causes of amenorrhea, and they often come as a result of underlying diseases, such as:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Women who have PCOS often face elevated levels of hormones, which affects their menstrual cycle.
- Thyroid malfunction: Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can cause menstrual irregularities.
- Pituitary tumor: A benign tumor in your pituitary gland can provoke the hormonal imbalance that leads to amenorrhea.
- Premature menopause: Although menopause begins around age 50, some women may face it before age 40, when menstruation stops.
How is Amenorrhea Treated?
Amenorrhea treatments are diverse, and they mostly depend on the underlying cause, and the amenorrhea type (primary or secondary). The cases of primary amenorrhea often require watchful waiting, which depends on the person’s age and the results of the ovary function test. If there are signs of genetic or physical problems with the reproductive organs, surgery becomes the only choice. However, it doesn’t guarantee regular menstrual cycles.
Since an underlying cause often triggers secondary amenorrhea, its treatments focus on the disease that is a potential cause of its onset. Possible treatments that can help you regulate your menstrual cycle include acupuncture and herbal therapies. These alternative treatments have proven their efficiency in addressing a variety of problems associated with the reproductive system, and they are entirely safe, which is the most important thing.
Amenorrhea Treatment Natural Solution: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
Natural solutions and drug-free therapies are preferred to medications and drugs that could have a negative impact on the person’s overall health. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a lot to offer regarding natural therapies and solutions based on organic ingredients and approaches.
According to TCM, amenorrhea can be:
Women with the dry type of amenorrhea are often “yin” deficient, and they experience low estrogen and lower weight. They may notice that their period becomes lighter until it finally stops. Yin deficiency can be solved with Chinese herbs, which encourage estrogen production and restore the body’s natural fluids and through a healthy diet and good sleeping habits.
Amenorrhea caused by hormonal imbalances is often described as “qi stagnation” in the reproductive system. It typically comes due to increased levels of stress, and it results in bad PMS, headaches before the menstrual cycle, cramping, bloating, weight gain, and breast tenderness. It’s a sign of so-called blocked menstruation.
It is believed that some women have a cold environment in the uterus, which blocks their periods. Treatments that originate from the Traditional Chinese Medicine can warm the uterus and encourage the menstrual flow.
Blood deficiency comes as a result of poor diet and unhealthy diet habits. You’re likely to develop blood deficiency if you’re underweight or if your diet lacks enough unsaturated fats and proteins. It’s recommended to eat food rich in nutrients and exercise moderately to solve blood deficiency and impact the period.
Acupuncture for Amenorrhea
Acupuncture has been used for more than 2,000 years, primarily for pain management and its exceptional therapeutic effect. Over the years, acupuncture has become a powerful weapon for treating various diseases that are considered irreversible and incurable, including conditions that often cause amenorrhea, infertility, and other problems with women’s health.
The secret of the acupuncture’s power lies in its ability to encourage the blood flow, improve any hormonal imbalances that may exist, and release the vital energy, known as qi, which plays a significant role in the person’s overall health.
Qi deficiency is frequently one of the main factors that provoke amenorrhea. It can be reestablished by stimulating the specific acupoints on the body. It is done by placing small, thin, and stainless steel needles onto the surface of the body, and a certified acupuncturist performs the entire process. The therapy is entirely safe and painless.
Acupuncture can help treat the following diseases associated with amenorrhea:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Absence of period and ovulation
- Hormonal imbalance
- Luteal phase defect
- And more.
Acupuncture is capable of retrieving the lost balance and establishing the order in your organism. Consistent therapies will bring significant improvements to your overall health and encourage the regular menstrual cycle. A certified acupuncturist will determine the exact number of treatments and assessments based on your overall health and the underlying condition that might be causing the problem.
Herbs for Amenorrhea
Herbal therapies are often combined with acupuncture since they give better outcomes when used as a complementary treatment. Chinese herbs are widely used for treating a variety of conditions associated with women’s health since they strengthen the immune system and the internal organs that have a significant role in the organism.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, regular menstrual cycles indicate a good blood circulation, as well as the entire well-being – physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional. When a woman experiences a menstrual disorder, her whole body suffers – it may later lead to severe permanent conditions that affect different spheres of life.
Amenorrhea can trigger the onset of many other health inconveniences if not appropriately treated. To prevent that, your practitioner may prescribe you some of the following Chinese herbs that may provide significant outcomes:
- Chaste tree: This herb helps the pituitary gland function normally, it reduces prolactin levels, and impacts the menstruation flow. It may interact with a number of medications, which is why it’s essential not to take it without prior consultation with your practitioner.
- Black cohosh: This plant is widely used for reducing the symptoms of menopause and treating amenorrhea. It has provided many significant outcomes so far, and it’s a highly recommended supplement in general.
- Lady’s mantle: Such an herb can help stimulate the blood flow and encourage the menstrual flow.
- Kelp, oat straw, and horsetail: These herbs are rich in minerals that promote the thyroid function and remove any thyroid-related issues that might be causing amenorrhea.
More herbs aim to improve blood flow and strengthen the kidneys (which are also associated with the absence of a period), but they will be further discussed with your practitioner.
Healthy Diet and Better Lifestyle
An unhealthy diet and bad lifestyle habits are often the primary causes of menstruation disorders and other conditions that could cause it. Along with acupuncture and Chinese herbs, Chinese medicine suggests dietary therapy, which is vital for improving your overall health.
By focusing on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you’ll notice that your problems are beginning to fade away. You’ll retrieve the lost balance and establish vital energy in your organism by nourishing it and providing it with all the nutrients it needs. That said, consider the following TCM diet suggestions:
- Eat more rice
- Include proteins in your diet
- Avoid cold or raw food
- Avoid dairy (cheese, milk, butter)
- No concentrated sweets (candy, soda, energy bars).
Combine a healthy diet and moderate exercise along with acupuncture and herbal therapies, and you’ll soon notice positive results in your overall health and the condition you’re treating.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is entirely based on a holistic approach, which is one of the critical reasons why it provides stellar and long-lasting results. The beauty of holistic approach lies in the fact that each person is treated individually, while the treatments focus entirely on them, and not the disorder.