Secondary Amenorrhea

Secondary amenorrhea is the stopping of menstrual flow for 3 to 6 months in a female who has previously had periods. There are many possible causes. Most of these causes are not serious. Usually treating the underlying problem causing the loss of menses will return your periods to normal.


Some common and uncommon causes of not menstruating include:

  • Malnutrition.

  • Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).

  • Polycystic ovarian disease.

  • Stress or fear.

  • Breastfeeding.

  • Hormone imbalance.

  • Ovarian failure.

  • Medications.

  • Extreme obesity.

  • Cystic fibrosis.

  • Low body weight or drastic weight reduction from any cause.

  • Early menopause.

  • Removal of ovaries or uterus.

  • Contraceptives.

  • Illness.

  • Long term (chronic) illnesses.

  • Cushing's syndrome.

  • Thyroid problems.

  • Birth control pills, patches, or vaginal rings for birth control.


This diagnosis is made by your caregiver taking a medical history and doing a physical exam. Pregnancy must be ruled out. Often times, numerous blood tests of different hormones in the body may be measured. Urine testing may be done. Specialized x-rays may have to be done as well as measuring the body mass index (BMI).


Treatment depends on the cause of the amenorrhea. If an eating disorder is present, this can be treated with an adequate diet and therapy. Chronic illnesses may improve with treatment of the illness. Overall, the outlook is good. The amenorrhea may be corrected with medications, lifestyle changes, or surgery. If the amenorrhea cannot be corrected, it is sometimes possible to create a false menstruation with medications.