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Learning YOUR Body's Normal: The Reality of Amenorrhea

Many thanks to Agnes at Bits-en-Pieces for inspiring me to pen this post.

In my early 20s my menstrual cycle changed dramatically.  

I went from regular monthly cycles to sporadic cycles every 2-3 months eventually to 1-2 cycles a year.  My friends were having "normal" monthly cycles but I wasn't. Even my mom and my sister's cycles were in sync, mine wasn't.  Something was wrong.

During one of my annual gynecological visits I was told I had amenorrhea.  Amenorrhea is the absence of a menstrual cycle.  Amenorrhea is a common condition and most women will experience amennorhea at some point in their life.  During pregnancy, while breast-feeding, some prescription medicines, stress or in menopause are typical times for women to miss their cycles.  Women may also experience amennorhea while on certain types of birth control. 

I figured the stressors of college, relationship changes and relocating were what was causing my cycle to be off. The dreaded self-diagnosis.  In hindsight, I wish I had listened to my body and sought treatment sooner. 

Irregular cycles can be a sign of other problems.  Agnes at Bits-en-Pieces wrote about her struggles with DYSmenorrhea and I was inspired to share my story of Amenorrhea.

The absence of my menstrual cycles was the precursor for Stein Levanthal's Syndrome / Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and led to a fertility issues and several physical changes to my body.  Fortunately, medications, a couple of surgeries and years of fertility treatments worked for me and I realized my dreams of motherhood.  However, such is not always the case and that's why it's important to have the conversation with your doctor sooner than later.   
If you notice changes in your menstrual cycle, be sure to let your doctor know.  If you have missed more than 3 cycles, consult with your doctor to help determine what is causing your cycles to cease.  Maybe it's stress, maybe it's diet, the only surefire way to know is to monitor closely.

Discussing periods may not be typical conversation when hanging out with your girls but it's amazing what you learn from just talking with your girls.    

If you have a friend who mentions they've missed a couple of periods, encourage them to let their doctor know as this could be a sign of something else.  Above all, know your body's normal and if something seems out of sorts, let your doctor know.

Have you ever experienced amenorrhea?

Comments

I never experienced any problems and have never known any one who has experienced this. Very eye opening for me to learn about this.
Alli Smith said…
I've never experienced this before but I know someone who did struggle with this problem. I just didn't know what it was called. I've learned a lot today from this article.
Masshole Mommy said…
I do know my body and my periods are just the opposite. They are SO bad every single month that I am trying to talk my doctor into a giving me a hysterectomy so I don't have to suffer like this every month :(
AiringMyLaundry said…
I had no idea about this term. I have experienced this after my kids were born and when I was breastfeeding. Also a few times when my husband was deployed and I told the doctor about it. I think it's so important to talk about.
I have to admit I didn't know there was a term for this, I haven't experienced it myself, but then I have been on a pill that stops them for many years and is meant to so I don't think it's called as this.
Rebekah said…
I didn’t realise Amenorrhea was the name of this condition! I’m sorry you’ve had issues as a result of this, but I’m so glad that motherhood was still a reality for you!
Anosa Malanga said…
My periods have always been the bane of my existence, they hurt so much that if they don't hurt i see my doctor because its abnormal for them not to hurt. Thanks for sharing this
Kita Bryant said…
This post is very insightful. Learning your bodies ways is a really important part of health.
Sara Welch said…
I never realized what Amenorrhea was. I really learned a lot from this!
Mimicutelips said…
I haven't experienced this until I got a Mirena IUD. I know one of the side effects is you might not have a menstrual cycle. For that wasn't an issue of concern because I have two children and no longer desire to have any more children.
Joanna Brittain said…
I didn't realize this had a name. Years ago, in my late 20's I had wacky periods, but a friend of mine was going through exactly this!
I knew a number of young women who didn't get a monthly period when I was younger. All saw doctors and all cases were attributed to regular daily activities during sports practice.
Sarah Honey said…
My dear friends suffer from Amenorrhea as well. It has made trying for kids super hard for her. I'm going to share this piece with her.
I agree that we must listen to the signs and symptoms our bodies are telling us and seek medical attention as soon as possible. My sister had ammenorrhea and it was found out that she had PCOS. I was the opposite. I had menometorrhagia which was heavy prolonged periods. I had thickened uterine linings and was treated with medications and curettage.
chubskulit said…
My godmother have this condition and she never actually had a period all her life. She had 4 kids and I asked her before how she knew that she was pregnant.
Miss Angie said…
I've never been regular. Birth control helps, but when I'm off of it I can often experience this or the exact opposite. Once I had a 3 month long period-it sucked!
steph parrell said…
Wow! Thank you for sharing your story. I have never heard of this condition before and it is scary to think that signs and symptoms of this could be missed in myself because of lack of knowledge.
sandy n vyjay said…
This is such a candid and useful post. The information is invaluable and bound to be of great use to many women.
Amy D said…
I did experience this as a teen. In fact my mom brought me to the gyno at 16 because I was either not getting my monthly gift or getting it too much. Periods are a unique thing, that is for sure!!
Amandela Harris said…
Pre-baby, my monthly often brought a ton of pain. Now that I am post baby, its hard to know when my cycle will occur. I am 9 months post partum and I've had like 2 real periods. If this continues, I probably should seek advice from doctor if my unusual pattern keeps up.
Tami Q said…
I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It was discovered when my periods ceased to exist. Fortunately, they were able to get them started again. Although I've lost one baby to miscarriage, I do have precious kiddos.
Yona Williams said…
The most that has happened to my menstrual cycle is being off a little from starting up exercise after a break or changing my diet. I'd be nervous and annoyed if I had to deal with anything other than that. I have a friend with PCOS, who did struggle with fertility. Thankfully, they found the right medication to remedy that.
I've never personally experienced amenorrhea. In fact, even after having my babies and during breastfeeding, I got my cycle back immediately afterwards. What a bummer! At least I knew that I didn't have any issues though, especially not something as potentially serious as PCOS.
So glad to hear you were able to have little ones! <3
Ali Rost said…
Thank-you so much for spreading the word about amenorrhea. Admittedly, this is the first time I've heard of it. I can't help but think how many times our bodies signal to us that something is amiss, and we dismiss the symptoms. I hope other women will know to seek help from their doctors when they've gone a while without having a period. x
Aileen Adalid said…
This is the first time that I have actually heard of amenorrhea so it helps a lot that you wrote about this! I've never experienced it but it always helps to know beforehand. Thanks again for writing about this. Hope more people get to read it!
Gemille Sleweon said…
Reading this was a bit refreshing for me. I was diagnosed with PCOS last May. For me, it started with my period lasting for 2 weeks and then eventually it began lasting for the whole month. I haven't had any absence of my cycle, but i do know how it feels when the doctor tells you there is a high chance that i'll encounter infertility somewhere down the line. Wishing you the best of luck! and thank you for sharing your story
Marie said…
I had at some point did experience amenorrhea...but I wasn't aware of the term...it probably within a range of 8 months. I switched pills and got ok on it...Thanks for the information you laid out, I learned a lot today.
Fatima Torres said…
I have a cousin who gets her period once a year. She was always told it was normal. Turns out, she had a condition and will have issues when she tries to conceive.

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