Menstrual disorders have a variety of causes, which may or may not be preventable.
Certain conditions can often be treated before they cause heavy bleeding. Examples include:
Excessive and intense exercise can cause you to stop having menstrual periods. If you exercise compulsively due to fear of gaining weight, you may have an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. It is not uncommon for women with eating disorders to exercise 2-6 hours a day. If you have an eating disorder, you need to see your doctor to get proper treatment.
On the other hand, if you exercise intensely because you are an athlete, it may be difficult for you to change your exercise routine. To prevent the complications associated with this type of amenorrhea, talk to your doctor about whether you should take calcium. You may also want to consider taking birth control pills.
Amenorrhea is often related to levels of body fat—either too much or too little. Your doctor can help determine your appropriate weight and body fat levels. You should not lose too much weight or lose weight too quickly. Along the same lines, you should not gain too much weight or gain too quickly. These extremes can affect your menstrual cycle.
If you need to lose weight, your doctor or a dietitian can help you make adjustments so that your diet is well-balanced and adequate in calories. If you have an intense fear of gaining weight or feel that your eating is compulsive and out of control, you should also be assessed for eating disorders.
Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, often lead to amenorrhea. Eating disorders are serious disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme and unhealthy reduction of food intake or severe overeating. They are accompanied by feelings of distress or extreme concern about body shape or weight.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which you have an obsession with dieting and exercise that leads to excessive weight loss.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which you eat large amounts of food (binging) and then use inappropriate means (vomiting, laxatives, excessive exercise) to rid your body of the food (purging). You eat compulsively and feel unable to stop, then purge to prevent gaining weight.
If you think you may have an eating disorder, seek help from your doctor.
High levels of stress can disrupt your menstrual periods. In addition to reducing your overall stress level, you should get more rest and relaxation. You may also benefit from relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, yoga, and biofeedback. These techniques help you pay attention to tension in your body and release it with exercises that help quiet your mind and relax your muscles. Regular enjoyable activities can also help you relieve stress.
Abnormal uterine bleeding. FamilyDoctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/abnormal-uterine-bleeding.html. Updated August 2010. Accessed August 20, 2012.
Amenorrhea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 21, 2011. Accessed August 20, 2012.
Amenorrhea. FamilyDoctor.org website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/amenorrhea.html. Updated August 2010. Accessed August 20, 2012.
Heavy menstrual bleeding. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated 25, 2012. Accessed August 20, 2012.
Last reviewed September 2013 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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