Amenorrhea is considered a type of abnormal menstrual bleeding characterized by the unexpected absence of menstrual bleeding, lasting three months or longer. Menstrual bleeding typically happens approximately once a month when blood and endometrial tissue, or tissue lining the inside of the uterus, sheds from the uterus through the vagina. Menstruation is expected to stop with pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause, or the natural cessation of the menstrual cycle at an older age. However, women may also experience amenorrhea because of an underlying health condition, including low body weight or polycystic ovarian syndrome, that may complicate fertility and contribute to decreased quality of life. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, one in twenty-five women experience amenorrhea as a menstrual disorder within their lives at times.
Estrogen is the primary sex hormone in women and it functions during the reproductive menstrual cycle. Women have three major types of estrogen: estrone, estradiol, and estriol, which bind to and activate receptors within the body. Researchers discovered the three types of estrogen over a period of seven years, contributing to more detailed descriptions of the menstrual cycle. Each type of estrogen molecule contains a slightly different arrangement or number of atoms that in turn causes some of the estrogens to be more active than others. The different types of estrogen peak and wane throughout women's reproductive cycles, from normal menstruation to pregnancy to the cessation of menstruation (menopause). As scientists better explained the effects of estrogens, they used that information to develop oral contraceptives to control pregnancy, to map the menstrual cycle, and to create hormone therapies to regulate abnormal levels of estrogen.
In the early twentieth century US, Jean Paul Pratt and Edgar Allen conducted clinical experiments on women who had abnormal menstrual cycles. During the clinical tests, researchers injected the hormone estrogen into their patients to alleviate their menstrual ailments, which ranged from irregular cycles to natural menopause. The hormone estrogen plays a prominent role in the menstrual cycle by signaling the tissue lining the uterus (endometrium) to thicken in preparation for possible pregnancy. In their clinical tests, Pratt and Allen showed that injecting estrogen into female human subjects restored their normal menstrual cycle, removed symptoms such as hot flashes, and caused uterine tissue to grow. The clinical tests conducted by Pratt and Allen provided experimental evidence and justification for the injection of isolated estrogen in women to alleviate, for a short amount of time, different menstrual problems, and it contributed to later hormone therapy research.