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What it Might Mean When Your Period Stops

Q: My 22-year-old daughter stopped getting her period a year and a half ago. She's recently married and plans to have kids someday. Her doctor says her ultrasound results are normal and that she needn't worry about it until she's ready to get pregnant. We're both still concerned. What could possibly be wrong?

Dr. Donnica: You are right to be concerned. While there are many possible causes for her period stopping, none of them would be observed by ultrasound. She needs to have a blood test to have several of her hormonal levels checked.

Prolactin is one of the hormones that should be checked. Produced by the pituitary gland, elevated levels of prolactin can cause the menses to stop. Elevated TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) can indicate a low level of thyroid hormone production and can also cause cessation of menstruation. Both of these conditions are treatable.

A more difficult problem could be indicated if her FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) levels are elevated. This could indicate a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or a form of early menopause called premature ovarian failure (POF). While the average age of "natural" menopause is 51, the average age of women with POF is 27.

Created: 5/16/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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