Children's Hospital Colorado

Amenorrhea in Girls and Teens

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What is amenorrhea?

Amenorrhea is the absence of menstrual periods. Primary amenorrhea refers to when a girl has not started her period within three years of breast development or has not experienced a period by age 15. Secondary amenorrhea is defined as no menstrual period for three cycles after already having monthly menstrual periods, or no menstruation for six months if a girl was already experiencing irregular menstrual cycles.

Absent periods can cause stress and confusion for young girls and their families. Children's Hospital Colorado provides the medical expertise in pediatric and adolescent gynecology to ease your stress.

What causes amenorrhea?

Many factors can cause amenorrhea. In girls who have never had a period before, it is important to make sure that the female reproductive structures are normal. A blockage or absence of any part of the vagina or uterus can prevent the onset of periods.

Other amenorrhea causes include weight gain or loss, physical and emotional stress, highly competitive athletics, endocrine conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), high prolactin level, adrenal problems, thyroid conditions and chronic medical concerns like diabetes and celiac disease. Primary ovarian insufficiency, a condition that causes the ovaries to work abnormally, is another cause of amenorrhea.

Who gets amenorrhea?

Amenorrhea occurs for many different reasons and has many potential risk factors. Common risk factors include:

  • A congenital anomaly in the kidneys or urologic system
    • This increases the chances of having an anomaly of the reproductive system, which can cause absent menstruation.
  • Significant weight loss or gain
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Competitive athletics

Next steps

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Get to know our pediatric experts.

Eliza Buyers, MD

Eliza Buyers, MD

Ob/Gyn Obstetrics & Gynecology

Veronica Alaniz, MD

Veronica Alaniz, MD

Ob/Gyn Obstetrics & Gynecology

Elizabeth Clain, MD

Elizabeth Clain, MD

Ob/Gyn Obstetrics & Gynecology

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