Amenorrhea | Causes & Risk Factors


What causes amenorrhea?

Primary amenorrhea can be caused by the following:

  • Problems with the hypothalamus, which is an area in your brain that interacts with your pituitary gland to regulate your menstrual cycle
  • Abnormal chromosomes
  • Pituitary disease, which affects the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is located just under the brain and helps regulate your menstrual cycle.
  • An obstruction of the vagina, such as a membrane that is blocking menstrual flow

You may develop secondary amenorrhea due to:

  • Pregnancy
  • Use of oral or injected contraceptives, such as birth control pills or Depo-Provera
  • Stress
  • Certain types of medicine, such as antidepressants, chemotherapy medicine and antipsychotics
  • Extremely low body weight
  • A problem with the thyroid, which is another gland that produces hormones that have an effect on menstruation
  • Regular strenuous exercise, like long distance running, especially if body fat is low


Amenorrhea: Evaluation and Treatment by T Master-Hunter, MD, and DL Heiman, MD (American Family Physician April 15, 2006,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/14
Created: 04/06