Amenorrhea refers to absence of menstrual periods. There are two variants of amenorrhea- primary and secondary. ‘Primary’ refers to complete absence of periods i.e. menstruation has not occurred by the age of 16 years. ‘Secondary’ amenorrhea refers to absence of menstrual periods for at least six months or longer, after having menstruated. Pregnancy, menopause and breastfeeding are physiological causes of secondary amenorrhea.
Menstrual cycles are characterized by regulated and periodic fluctuation in the hormonal levels in the body. These hormonal levels change in order to prepare the uterus to facilitate the implantation of the fertilized ovum.
At the beginning of the menstrual cycle, estrogen levels are optimum, while progesterone levels are low. This result in elevation of the LH hormone levels, which triggers the release of egg or ovum from the ovaries. Following the release of the egg, both estrogen and progesterone levels get elevated, as they promote the thickening of the uterine lining.
This thickening is meant to allow easy implantation of the fertilized ovum. However, if the ovum doesn’t get implanted, progesterone levels drop drastically, which in turn result in menstrual periods.
Most Common Causes Of Secondary Amenorrhea
Any factors that interfere with the normal and cyclical fluctuation of the hormones can lead to amenorrhea,
- Overactive thyroid gland, pituitary tumors or elevated levels of testosterone (as observed in cases of PCOD) are known to cause hormonal imbalance.
- Emotional stress is also a contributing factor. Stress can result in disruption of the normal periods, which in turn can aggravate the condition.
- Use of birth control pills or certain types of medications like chemotherapy drugs or antipsychotic drugs can also lead to hormonal imbalances.
- Obesity is another factor that increases the risk of secondary amenorrhea. Underweight females with less than 15% of body fat are also known to suffer from secondary amenorrhea.
- Nutritional deficiencies caused by fad diets in attempt to lose weight quickly can also trigger secondary amenorrhea.
Home Remedies To Treat Secondary Amenorrhea
In most cases, secondary amenorrhea can be rectified easily using simple treatment measures,
- Ensure that your diet is healthy. Increase the intake of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains and legumes in the diet.
- Avoid processed or synthetic foods. Avoid aerated drinks. Limit the intake of alcohol and stop smoking. Limit salt intake in your diet. Avoid meat and poultry products. Avoid sea water fish.
- Healthy food helps regulate the weight and fights deficiencies associated with the condition. Increase the intake of green leafy vegetables which are loaded with vitamins and iron, especially to deal with nutritional deficiencies. Dairy products need to be avoided, since they contain animal hormones and can impact metabolism.
- Exercise and yoga are considered very beneficial. Exercise helps regulate the hormonal functions and improves metabolism. Yoga as a technique has had profound benefit in treating secondary amenorrhea and associated symptoms. Postures like cow pose and cobra pose have profound influence on the functioning of the ovaries.
- Increase the intake of omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Though fish are loaded with omega-3s, they may be contaminated and hence supplements are recommended.
If simple home based techniques don’t work, it is recommended to consult a gynecologist to rule out pregnancy or menopause.