One of the strangest things about fibromyalgia is the way it can lead to symptoms you would never think could be related. For instance, a lot of people with fibromyalgia notice that they feel an overpowering need to urinate frequently. Others notice an uncomfortable itching all over the body. And did you know that fibromyalgia may actually affect your menstrual cycle?
Amenorrhea, or an absence of periods, is something that a lot of women with fibromyalgia experience. So, what do you need to know about this condition, and how is it related to fibromyalgia?
What Is Amenorrhea?
In a basic sense, Amenorrhea is just a break in the menstrual cycle that lasts longer than three months. There are a lot of different things that can cause it. Obviously, pregnancy and menopause cause your menstrual cycle to stop. But it can also be caused by a number of different medications, very low body fat, too much exercise, and stress.
There are also physical problems that might cause it. For instance, tumors near the hormonal glands can cause an imbalance in hormones that lead to it. And conditions that cause scar tissue to build up in the ovaries can also stop periods.
Amenorrhea is obviously not dangerous, and it’s just a sign of other conditions. But those conditions can be dangerous and lead to serious complications depending on what’s causing your amenorrhea. But the only complication is that it makes it impossible to get pregnant.
The symptoms will also vary depending on the underlying condition. Most of the physical symptoms are related to the hormonal changes that can cause amenorrhea, including:
- Milky discharge from the nipples
- Hair loss
- Excess facial hair
- Pelvic pain
If you’re suffering from these symptoms, it’s a good idea to see a doctor. A doctor can run some tests to figure out what’s causing them. Usually, they’ll start by checking to see if you’re pregnant or in menopause. Then, they’ll check your hormone levels to see if they’re out of balance.
Finally, if those don’t explain the symptoms, they’ll use an ultrasound to examine the uterus. This test will help them spot any physical conditions that might be to blame.
There are a few risk factors for the condition. Those include lifestyle issues like stress or diet. The condition can also run in families, so your doctor may ask about your family medical history. But it really can affect any woman.
But while it can affect anyone, it’s common for women who have fibromyalgia. So, what’s the connection?
How Is It Related To Fibromyalgia?
It seems like stress is usually behind most of the unusual symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. And this is probably the case when it comes to amenorrhea. The stress of living with fibromyalgia is obviously significant. People with fibromyalgia live in constant pain and have to deal with a medical establishment that just doesn’t know much about how to deal with them.
Add the family and relationship problems that often occur as a result of fibromyalgia, and it’s easy to see why stress would be a huge part of someone with fibromyalgia’s life. But that stress takes a toll on the hormonal system, and the imbalance in hormones can lead to amenorrhea.
High levels of stress cause your body to produce something called cortisol. This cortisol then decreases the amount of hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). GnRH is a hormone that is produced in the pituitary gland and controls the functions of the ovary. Without, your periods no longer function normally.
So, in most cases, people with fibromyalgia and amenorrhea are probably suffering from stress-related complications. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t suffering from another more serious condition that’s causing theirs. You should always get checked out by a doctor, as it can be a sign of serious conditions.
But if stress is to blame, you can help treat it by reducing stress. Obviously, that’s easier said than done. Consider visiting a therapist who specializes in people with fibromyalgia. They can help you find ways to handle and reduce stress.
Otherwise, moderate exercise like yoga has been proven to help reduce stress and the severity of fibromyalgia symptoms. So, you may want to consider working moderate exercise into your daily routine if you can.
When it comes to stress-induced amenorrhea, all you can really do is try to reduce your stress. It’s always a good idea to see a medical professional and follow their recommendations if you’re suffering from it.
So, have you had amenorrhea with your fibromyalgia? What helps? Let us know in the comments.