Puberty is the period of transition from childhood to adulthood characterized by the attainment of adult height and body composition, accrual of bone strength and the acquisition of secondary sexual characteristics, psychosocial maturation and reproductive capacity. In girls, menarche is a late marker of puberty. Primary amenorrhea is defined as the absence of menarche in ≥15-year-old females with developed secondary sexual characteristics and normal growth or that in ≥13-year-old females without signs of pubertal development. Furthermore, evaluation for primary amenorrhea should be considered in the absence of menarche three years after thelarche (start of breast development) or five years after thelarce, if that occurred before the age of 10 years. A variety of disorders in the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis can lead to primary amenorrhea with delayed, arrested or normal pubertal development. Etiologies can be categorized as hypothalamic or pituitary disorders causing hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, gonadal disorders causing hypergonadotropic hypogonadism, disorders of other endocrine glands, and congenital utero-vaginal anomalies. This article gives a comprehensive review of the etiologies, diagnostics and management of primary amenorrhea from the perspective of pediatric endocrinologists and gynecologists. The goals of treatment vary depending on both the etiology and patient; with timely etiological diagnostics fertility may be attained even in those situations where no curable treatment exists.
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