A female who has reached 16 yrs of age and above and has still not begun to menstruate or one who has skipped three menstrual cycles in a row is considered to be suffering from amenorrhea. One type of amenorrhea called primary amenorrhea means that a girl aged 16 yrs and above has not yet begun menstruating. The other type of amenorrhea called secondary amenorrhea is a condition in which a woman who has had previous menstrual cycles skips three periods in a row. Another type of amenorrhea known as hypoestrogenemic amenorrhea is caused by a hormonal imbalance. Amenorrhea can also be caused by the body’s overproduction of prolactin, a hormone that causes the body to produce milk.
Signs and Symptoms
Primary amenorrhea symptoms and signs may include:
-Sometimes an extremely tall stature or a stubby, short physique
-Excessive growth of hair
-Irregular blood pressure
The symptoms and signs of secondary amenorrhea are:
-Disease of the liver
-Severe loss of weight
-A swollen thyroid gland; goiter
-Poor eye function
-Breasts that are swollen
Signs and symptoms of estrogen deficiency can include vaginal dryness, depression, mood changes, and hot flashes.
What Causes It?
Typically amenorrhea can be the result of endocrine dysfunctions, body structure abnormalities, and certain genetic defects. Certain causes may include.
-Very strenuous or rigorous exercise (ex. Long-distance running)
-Obesity (severe weight gain)
-Anorexia nervosa, too much loss of weight, malnutrition
-Psychological disorders or stress
-Tuberculosis, diabetes and other kinds of disease
-Stoppage of oral contraceptives
-Breast feeding or pregnancy
-Menopause, often around the ages of 40 to 55
-Endometriosis or intrauterine infection
-Poor functioning of the ovaries
-Too much production by the body of the male hormone testosterone
-Imbalance of the hormones produced by the endocrine system
-Problems in the development of the sexual or reproductive parts of the body such as the absence of the vagina or uterus
One of the treatments, conventional medicine or otherwise, touted to help regulate the endocrine system and address hormonal imbalances related to amenorrhea such as PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome, is acupuncture. Some small-scale studies of women suffering from fertility problems (that are frequently related to amenorrhea) have demonstrated acupuncture’s helpfulness in improving ovulation. Women suffering from amenorrhea are treated by acupuncturists in accordance with an individualized evaluation of the deficiencies and excesses of qi flowing in different meridians. Acupuncturists believe that deficiencies in the kidney and liver are often the reasons for amenorrhea, which then entails treatment that is often aimed at enhancing the function of these organ systems.
Another Chinese modality is Chinese herbs which can treat blocked menstruation and normalize a woman’s menstrual cycle if she is not pregnant. Consult with a licensed Chinese herbalist before attempting to use any kind of Chinese herb for any menstrual blockages you may have.
Chuan Niu Hsi
Also known as cyathula, chuan niu hsi helps to boost flow in the uterus. It also is able to treat painful periods, irregular menses and amenorrhea. Another health benefit that this herb can provide is that it is also really helpful in treating acute nose bleeds, urinary tract infections and musculoskeletal pain.
This herb is more commonly known as safflower. It can help stimulate the uterus as well as boost blood flow, resolve menstrual pain and cure amenorrhea. A leading Chinese herbologist stated that hong hwa is one of the most widely applied herbs in China for treating gynecological and obstetric problems. If applied in large amounts, this herb can help boost menstrual flow and remove stagnant blood. Hong hwa is also helpful in preventing and reducing ovarian cysts and uterine fibroids.
Yi Mu Cao
This is a motherwort herb and is very much used to treat menstrual disorders. Yi Mu Cao can activate and normalize blood flow in the uterus that makes it very helpful in curing irregular menses and amenorrhea. It’s also potent enough to relieve postpartum and menstrual pain. Studies indicate Yi Mu Cao has anti-platelet qualities that can help prevent the development of blood clots.
This herb is also known as peach seed and is a potent herb to remove stagnant blood and strongly stimulate the flow of blood making it very helpful for the curing of amenorrhea and the improvement of menstruation. Studies demonstrate that tao ren can also break up and prevent blood clot formation. It also is able to regulate a woman’s menstrual cycle and alleviate menstrual pain. Tao ren’s other benefit is that it is rich in essential fatty acids that can moisten the intestines and address constipation.
Also called lycopus, hse lan, is good for boosting blood flow and contains warming qualities that can benefit the reproductive organs. It also relieves postpartum stomach pain and menstrual pain, cure irregular menses and amenorrhea and boost menstrual blood flow. Moreover, hse lan is also helpful in treating swellings, sores, bruises and pain. It also has a diuretic quality that can help decrease swelling and edema.
Linda Lesperance is a licensed acupuncturist and the founder of The Lotus Center of Oriental Medicine in Boca Raton, FL.