During your appointment, your doctor will perform a pelvic exam to check for any problems with your reproductive organs. If you've never had a period, your doctor may examine your breasts and genitals to see if you're experiencing the normal changes of puberty.
Amenorrhea can be a sign of a complex set of hormonal problems. Finding the underlying cause can take time and may require more than one kind of testing.
A variety of blood tests may be necessary, including:
- Pregnancy test. This will probably be the first test your doctor suggests, to rule out or confirm a possible pregnancy.
- Thyroid function test. Measuring the amount of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in your blood can determine if your thyroid is working properly.
- Ovary function test. Measuring the amount of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in your blood can determine if your ovaries are working properly.
- Prolactin test. Low levels of the hormone prolactin may be a sign of a pituitary gland tumor.
- Male hormone test. If you're experiencing increased facial hair and a lowered voice, your doctor may want to check the level of male hormones in your blood.
Hormone challenge test
For this test, you take a hormonal medication for seven to 10 days to trigger menstrual bleeding. Results from this test can tell your doctor whether your periods have stopped due to a lack of estrogen.
Depending on your signs and symptoms — and the result of any blood tests you've had — your doctor might recommend one or more imaging tests, including:
- Ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to produce images of internal organs. If you have never had a period, your doctor may suggest an ultrasound test to check for any abnormalities in your reproductive organs.
- Computerized tomography (CT). CT scans combine many X-ray images taken from different directions to create cross-sectional views of internal structures. A CT scan can indicate whether your uterus, ovaries and kidneys look normal.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI uses radio waves with a strong magnetic field to produce exceptionally detailed images of soft tissues within the body. Your doctor may order an MRI to check for a pituitary tumor.
If other testing reveals no specific cause, your doctor may recommend a hysteroscopy — a test in which a thin, lighted camera is passed through your vagina and cervix to look at the inside of your uterus.
May. 09, 2014
- DeCherney AH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment Obstetrics & Gynecology.11th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=788. Accessed Jan. 21, 2014.
- Klein DA, et al. Amenorrhea: An approach to diagnosis and management. American Family Physician. 2013;87:781.
- Goldman L, et al. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
- Welt CK, et al. Etiology, diagnosis and treatment of secondary amenorrhea. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 21, 2014.
- Welt CK, et al. Etiology, diagnosis and treatment of primary amenorrhea. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 21, 2014.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
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