Delayed puberty is defined as a woman who has not initiated breast development by age 13 or who has not had menstrual periods by age 16. A delay in puberty can be caused from abnormal development of the ovaries or from a lack of the hormone messages from the pituitary gland stimulating the ovaries. Some women who actually go through puberty, but never have menstrual periods by age 16, may have a lack of development of some of the internal female organs such as the uterus, vagina and fallopian tubes.
Abnormal Menstrual Periods
Although two-thirds of reproductive age women have menstrual cycles that occur every 25-31 days, the definition for normal menstrual cycles are cycles that occur between every 23-35 days. Most women whose menstrual cycles occur less frequently than every 35 days suffer from infrequent ovulation. This may be due to a hormone abnormality with the thyroid gland or due to an elevation in a hormone called prolactin which is involved with breast milk production.Women who bleed more frequently than every 21 days may suffer from inflammation or abnormal cells on the cervix. They may also have benign growths such polyps or fibroids inside the uterus. Women may also have abnormal cells that develop inside the cavity of the uterus which is referred to as hyperplasia. This condition is a precursor to some cancers of the uterus and is more common in women who do not ovulate on a regular basis.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition that affects 5 percent of reproductive women and is the most common cause of infrequent menstrual cycles. This condition is due to a hormone imbalance that prevents the ovary from forming and releasing an egg every month leaving the ovary with several small cysts present within it hence the term polycystic ovarian disease. Women who do not have any periods at all are referred to as suffering from amenorrhea. This condition is due to ahormone imbalance that prevents the ovary from forming and releasing an egg every month leaving the ovary with several small cysts present within it; hence, the term "polycystic ovarian disease".