Inventing A New Gynecologic Term


What are we taught? Give a patient a diagnosis, give her the formal name or the formal medical terminology her condition will be labeled and coded as when she gets to her physician’s office, and finally, the name will help explain the meaning of the condition. Confusion exists when we persist in labeling disparate conditions with the same medical term.

We have expanded the options for menstrual control and elimination of menses. But to a patient it all translates into a skipped period, and women know that their body is trying to tell them something if they skip periods when they are supposed to have a period. And many girls, young women and even some older women have trouble  wrapping their hands around the idea that no period could be healthy. I hear that idea expressed daily, and anthropologists and sociologists reading this will be smiling because they themselves know that menstrual blood has powerful psychological ind historical meanings for women. The contraceptive use of injectable progestins (epoProvera), implanted progestins (Implanon),  and intrauterine levonorgestrel (Mirena IUD) , have been joined by the essentially acyclic dosing regimens of newer oral contraceptive formulations all of which induce amenorrhea, no period, in their users. Yet we persist in the use of the same term for skipped period, no matter what the cause, terms that confuse and inappropriately label our patients.

Induced amenorrhea is both the terminology and descriptor I have often seen used in the medical literature, yet should a patient google or yahoo up an explanation for amenorrhea, it is clearly a gynecologic condition that is to be avoided and many a counseling session is spent on trying to clarify how the lack of menses when treated is creating one aspect of that condition: the lack of endometrial tissue to shed, and the lack of a shedding signal, and yet still convince the patient that she’s not suffering from an estrogen excess or absence that will confer long term harm.

I propose that we adopt a new term for this induced amenorrhea, azomenorrhea, I also like omenorrhea. I keep trying to get this new word catching on. Patients can be taught, this is a condition of health and an anticipated side effect, and one that is safe.


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