Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Symptoms and Treatment

Hypothalamic AmenorrheaIf a woman has not had a menstrual period by the time she turns 16, she has primary amenorrhea. One of the most common causes of amenorrhea is ovary depletion. In some women, genetic abnormalities cause the female reproductive organs to develop irregularly or not at all. For example, a woman may not develop a uterus or vagina. The physician will also check to see if there is outflow obstruction.
Diseases or tumors of the pituitary gland or the hypothalamus are one cause of hypothalamic amenorrhea. The hypothalamus is an area of the brain that controls hormone production. The hypothalamus tells the pituitary gland to signal the reproductive glands to make hormones. A disruption in this delicate chain of command can result in an estrogen deficiency. Estrogen is essential for regulating the menstrual cycle. A progestin challenge test is used to determine if a lack of estrogen is the problem. Other tests used in the diagnosis of hypothalamic amenorrhea may include laparoscopy, imaging, physical exam, pelvic exam, blood tests, and a pregnancy test.

Oral contraceptives are prescribed as a treatment for both hypothalamic amenorrhea and polycystic ovary disease. If the problem stems from thyroid or pituitary disturbances, different medications will be prescribed.

People who have had previous central nervous system chemotherapy or radiation may develop hypothalamic amenorrhea. Young female athletes, especially those who engage in sports that demand sleek bodies, can develop hypothalamic amenorrhea as a result of excessive exercise and weight loss. Current or previous illicit drug uses can lead to hypothalamic amenorrhea as well.

Many women have a slightly irregular menstrual cycle. But if a woman who has been having menstrual periods stops having them for 3 months or more, she has secondary amenorrhea.

Whether a woman experiences amenorrhea, she should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If these conditions go untreated the result could be infertility, osteoporosis and other significant health problems.