24 July 2017

Pregnancy not always the cause of missed periods

Amenorrhoea is the absence of menstrual periods in a woman during her reproductive years.


Phindile Shabalala, a 21-year-old young woman from Alexandra township, north of Johannesburg underwent several medical tests to find out what was wrong with her after she went more than six months without having a period.

After discovering that she has a rare reproductive health condition, Shabalala is now keen to let other young women know about the illness that can, in some cases, be treated.

Diagnosed with amenorrhoea

Shabalala describes herself as a socialite and easy going person, especially in the company of her close friends. Apart from completing her media studies, she has had one major worry – the fact that she has not had a period for several months.

"When it started I didn't take it seriously. But then I realised that it has been six months. Last week I started feeling abnominal pains, so I went to the clinic and told them what my problem was," she said.

After undergoing a pregnancy test, Shabalala was then tested for sexually transmitted diseases – all of which came back negative. She was then referred to Edenvale Hospital for further tests.

The doctors there diagnosed her with amenorrhoea – the absence of menstrual periods in a woman during her reproductive years. She will now have to wait for more tests next month when doctors will determine what the best course of treatment will be for her.

Good response to treatment

Shabalala said she was at first upset about the diagnosis, but after researching the condition for herself, she feels confident that she can be treated.

Lynne Buff, a reproductive health expert, said Shabalala had reason to be optimistic.
“If a girl has had her period and then it stops for a period of six months or more, it is known as secondary amenorrhoea," Buff said, explaining that there were several kinds of amenorrhoea.

Among the common causes of secondary amenorrhoea, she said, are unhealthy diet, obesity, stress, anxiety and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which leads to the growth of non cancerous ovarian cysts.

"Secondary amenorrhoea occurs in 5-7% of menstruating women and the long-term medical complications depend on the cause. Often it responds quite well to treatment," she said. – Health-e News.

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