What is amenorrhea?
The absence of a period, known as amenorrhea, can be short-term or permanent absence of menstruation – and there are both primary and secondary amenorrhea definitions. Primary amenorrhea is a diagnosis when menstruation is yet to start (usually by the age of 15 years). Secondary amenorrhea is a discontinuation of menstruation (for 3 months or more), highlighting an imbalance in the body for a woman who usually menstruates.
As with any health condition, there is often not just one trigger or cause, but can often be a combination of things that can contribute to a loss of menstruation.
Some imbalances in body systems can set off other imbalances in others, ie dysfunctions of the central nervous system, thyroid or adrenal disorders, disorders of the hypothalamus or pituitary gland, primary ovarian insufficiency, chronic illness.
One of the most common reasons that I see for patients with amenorrhea is being underweight, or periods of acute stress (emotional or otherwise). In both those circumstances, the body is telling you that it is not an ideal time to carry a child.
We need sufficient weight/nutritional stores in order to have a safe pregnancy, and our body will not respond well to stress in pregnancy either.
In this modern age, stress-induced anovulation (absence of period), is one of the most common causes of secondary amenorrhea. The stress that the body is registering can be due to under eating, excessive exercise, emotional stress and chronic disease. In this state, when the body is under nutritional or physical stress, it allocates its energy for survival rather than the process of reproduction.
Some drugs, including hormonal contraceptives can interfere with the menstrual cycle as a side effect.
How to Support A Healthy Menstrual Cycle
Eat a balanced and clean diet, with regular food intake. Include good healthy fats (nuts, chia, flaxseeds, avocado, eggs, oily fish, olive oil, coconut oil etc), complex carbs, quality protein, and a lot of coloured veg.
Manage stress as well as you can. This includes incorporating good stress management techniques, and allowing your nervous system sufficient time to regularly reset.
Ensure exercise is minimised, and remove the high intensity for the time being, but instead focus on yoga, pilates, and walking.
Being at a healthy weight for your height is absolutely crucial in order to get a period back.
See a naturopath who can find the underlying reason for the absence of period (ie If the underlying problem is PCOS, then treat the PCOS. If the underlying reason is high prolactin, then treat that). Naturopaths also use herbal medicine, which is really effective in helping to establish a normal cycle.
If you need some help in treating menstrual irregularities, contact us today.
Yvette is a qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia.
Yvette specialises in the treatment of gut health and digestive complaints, skin issues, mood disorders, hormonal concerns, fatigue, and more.