Pituitary Issues: Irregular Periods

Q: I am 28 years old and I have not yet started my periods naturally. I have to take medicine for periods — Novelon. The doctors say that there is some problem with my hormones in the pituitary gland. Please advise me how to get normal and natural periods, because after taking the medicine I get my period, but without medicines I don’t.

A by Dr Sharmaine Mitchell: The problem you have with your menstrual period being irregular is most likely due to overproduction of the hormone prolactin by the pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary gland can sometimes enlarge and cause an overproduction of prolactin and this can result in inappropriate milk production in the breasts (white nipple discharge), irregular menstruation or absent menstrual periods, headaches and blurred vision. The blurred vision occurs as a result of compression of the optic nerve which supplies the eyes, by the enlarged brain tumour in the pituitary gland.

You should get a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or CT scan of the brain and pituitary gland done. You should also test your prolactin levels to determine the extent of overproduction of the hormone.

Other investigations should include a thyroid function test (TSH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and leutinizing hormone (LH), and baseline testosterone level tests.

Abnormalities in the production of thyroid hormones can also cause menstrual irregularities and this should be ruled out.

Polycystic ovarian disease can also cause irregular menstrual periods and checking the level of FSH, LH and testosterone will help to rule out this diagnosis. This condition is usually associated with excessive weight gain, abnormal male pattern distribution on the face, chest and abdomen and an increased risk for diabetes mellitus. A pelvic ultrasound to look at the structure of the ovaries and to rule out polycystic ovaries is essential.

If the pituitary gland is enlarged, then medication can be prescribed to shrink it. Bromocriptine or Norprolac are commonly used drugs which work well in reducing the prolactin levels and establishing regular menstrual cycles. The use of these drugs will also help to establish ovulation and improve your fertility.

In some cases it may become necessary to have surgery done if the tumour in the pituitary gland is large and does not respond to the usual medications prescribed to shrink the pituitary gland. The MRI of the brain and pituitary gland will give an idea as to the size of the gland and help to determine if there is a need for you to see the neurosurgeon.

In most cases medical management with drugs will work well and there is no need for surgical intervention. This is a problem that can recur, so it may be necessary to take treatment intermittently for a long period of time, especially if fertility is desired.

Consult your doctor who will advise you further. Best wishes.

Dr Sharmaine Mitchell is an obstetrician and gynaecologist. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Ave, Kingston 5; or fax to 968-2025. All responses are published. Dr Mitchell cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to medical advice or treatment from your own doctor.

From http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/magazines/allwoman/Still-no-normal-period-at-28_87596

The Pituitary Gland: Small But Mighty

The pituitary gland works hard to keep you healthy, doing everything from ensuring proper bone and muscle growth to helping nursing mothers produce milk for their babies. Its functionality is even more remarkable when you consider the gland is the size of a pea.

“The pituitary is commonly referred to as the ‘master’ gland because it does so many important jobs in the body,” says Karen Frankwich, MD, a board-certified endocrinologist at Mission Hospital. “Not only does the pituitary make its own hormones, but it also triggers hormone production in other glands. The pituitary is aided in its job by the hypothalamus. This part of the brain is situated above the pituitary, and sends messages to the gland on when to release or stimulate production of necessary hormones.”

These hormones include:

  • Growth hormone, for healthy bone and muscle mass
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone, which signals the thyroid to produce its hormones that govern metabolism and the body’s nervous system, among others
  • Follicle-stimulating and luteinizing hormones for healthy reproductive systems (including ovarian egg development in women and sperm formation in men, as well as estrogen and testosterone production)
  • Prolactin, for breast milk production in nursing mothers
  • Adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), which prompts the adrenal glands to produce the stress hormone cortisol. The proper amount of cortisol helps the body adapt to stressful situations by affecting the immune and nervous systems, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and metabolism.
  • Antidiuretic (ADH), which helps the kidneys control urine levels
  • Oxytocin, which can stimulate labor in pregnant women

The work of the pituitary gland can be affected by non-cancerous tumors called adenomas. “These tumors can affect hormone production, so you have too little or too much of a certain hormone,” Dr. Frankwich says. “Larger tumors that are more than 1 centimeter, called macroadenomas, can also put pressure on the area surrounding the gland, which can lead to vision problems and headaches. Because symptoms can vary depending on the hormone that is affected by a tumor, or sometimes there are no symptoms, adenomas can be difficult to pinpoint. General symptoms can include nausea, weight loss or gain, sluggishness or weakness, and changes in menstruation for women and sex drive for men.”

If there’s a suspected tumor, a doctor will usually run tests on a patient’s blood and urine, and possibly order a brain-imaging scan. An endocrinologist can help guide a patient on the best course of treatment, which could consist of surgery, medication, radiation therapy or careful monitoring of the tumor if it hasn’t caused major disruption.

“The pituitary gland is integral to a healthy, well-functioning body in so many ways,” Dr. Frankwich says. “It may not be a major organ you think about much, but it’s important to know how it works, and how it touches on so many aspects of your health.”

Learn more about Mission Hospital. Learn more about Dr. Frankwich.

From http://www.stjhs.org/HealthCalling/2016/December/The-Pituitary-Gland-Small-but-Mighty.aspx

Hypopituitarism – Deficiency in Pituitary Hormone Production

By Yolanda Smith, BPharm

Hypopituitarism is a health condition in which there is a reduction in the production of hormones by the pituitary gland.

The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain and is responsible for the production of several hormones, including:

  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which controls the production of the vital stress hormones cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in the adrenal gland
  • Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which controls the production of hormones by the thyroid gland
  • Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which control the secretion of the primary sex hormones and affect fertility
  • Growth hormone (GH), which regulates the growth processes in childhood and other metabolic processes throughout life
  • Prolactin (PRL), which facilitates the production of breast milk
  • Oxytocin, which is crucial during labor, childbirth and lactation
  • Antidiuretic hormone (ADH), also known as vasopressin, which regulates the retention of water and the blood pressure

An individual with hypopituitarism shows a deficiency in one or more of these hormones. This inevitably leads to abnormal body function, as an effect of the low levels of the hormone in the body, and may result in symptoms.

Causes

Hypopituitarism is most commonly due to the destruction, compression or inflammation of pituitary tissue by a brain tumor in that region. Other causes include:

  • Head injury
  • Infections such as tuberculosis
  • Ischemic or infarct injury
  • Radiation injury
  • Congenital and genetic causes
  • Infiltrative diseases such as sarcoidosis

Symptoms

General symptoms that are associated with pituitary hormone deficiency include:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Swollen facial features or body

There are also likely to be more specific symptoms according to the type of pituitary hormone deficiency, such as:

  • ACTH deficiency:
    • abdominal pain
    • low blood pressure
    • low serum sodium levels
    • skin pallor
  • TSH deficiency:
    • generalized body puffiness
    • sensitivity to cold
    • constipation
    • impaired memory and concentration
    • dry skin
    • anemia
  • LH and FSH deficiency:
    • reduction in libido
    • erectile dysfunction in men
    • abnormal menstrual periods
    • vaginal dryness in women
    • difficulty in conceiving
    • infertility.
  • GH deficiency:
    • slow growth
    • short height
    • an increase in body fat

Treatment

The first step in the treatment of hypopituitarism is to identify the cause of the condition.

Secondly, the hormones that are deficient must be identified. From this point, the appropriate treatment decisions can be made to promote optimal patient outcomes.

Hormone replacement therapy is the most common type of treatment for a patient with hypopituitarism.

This may involve supplementation of one or more hormones that are deficient, to reduce or correct the impact of the deficiency.

Follow Up

As hormone replacement therapy is expected to continue on a lifelong basis, it is important that patients have a good understanding of the therapy.

It is especially important to educate patients on what to do in case of particular circumstances that may change their hormone requirements.

For example, during periods of high stress, the demand for many hormones is increased, and the dose of hormone replacement may need to be adjusted accordingly.

It is recommended that patients have regular blood tests to monitor their hormone levels and ensure that they are in the normal range.

Patients should also carry medical identification, such as a medical bracelet or necklace, to show that they are affected by hypopituitarism and inform others about their hormone replacement needs and current treatment. This can help to meet their medical needs in case of any emergency.

Epidemiology

Hypopituitarism is a rare disorder that affects less than 200,000 individuals in the United States, with an incidence of 4.2 cases per 100,000 people per year.

The incidence is expected to be higher in certain subsets of the population, such as those that have suffered from a brain injury. Statistics in reference to these population groups have not yet been determined.

Reviewed by Dr Liji Thomas, MD.

References

From http://www.news-medical.net/health/Hypopituitarism-Deficiency-in-Pituitary-Hormone-Production.aspx

Case study shows chronic marijuana use associated with hypopituitarism

PHOENIX — Results of a case study presented here at the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists 22nd Scientific and Clinical Congress demonstrate that smoking marijuana may result in serious endocrine complications.

Hormone feedback cycles

Hormone feedback cycles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“We really feel that the evidence to-date shows this is a much more serious health problem than we’ve given credit to,” Pinsker said during a press conference. “Marijuana’s always been laughed off: ‘it’s a kid’s drug; they’ll outgrow it.’ In certain communities, it’s so common that people look at it as if they’re having a glass of beer. I think it’s time that physicians start having their antenna up for all the difficulties that come with this drug.”

The patient presented to the emergency department with dyspnea on exertion, increasing fatigue and loss of libido with no previous radiation exposure or head trauma. He had bibasilar rales, gynecomastia and bilateral atrophied testis.

His hormonal evaluation demonstrated low Luteinizing Hormone (0.2 mIU/mL); FSH (1.8 mIU/mL) and testosterone (22 ng/dL), as well as high prolactin (53.3 ng/mL).

Additionally, the patient had ACTH of 6 pg/mL and cortisol of 6.4 ug/dL at 0 minutes and 9.3 ug/dL at 60 minutes following cosyntropin administration.

Further labs revealed low total T3 (30 ng/dL); high T3 resin reuptake (49%); low total T4 (3.94 ng/dL); normal free T4 (0.97 ng/dL) and low TSH (0.22 uIU/mL). Growth hormone was within normal range (5.0 ng/mL) and IGF-I was low (75 ng/mL; Z-score of -1.3). An MRI revealed a slightly enlarged protuberant pituitary gland, but no identified mass lesion.

After being started on cortisone 25 mg in the morning and 12.5 mg at bedtime, as well as levothyroxine 25 mcg daily, the patient’s fatigue and edema improved significantly, according to the abstract.

In this case, severe hypopituitarism occurred from interference between THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana which has the ability to alter neural transmitters in the hypothalamus, and hypothalamic function.

Additionally, studies show that marijuana impairs the release of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRh), resulting in reduced production of testosterone.

Other symptoms seen with prolonged use include cognitive decline in school children and older people, according to Pinsker. “The public will become more attuned to looking for these things. We’re going to have what we call a surveillance bias and we’re going to start discovering that it’s a lot higher than we gave it credit for, both because of increased use and because we’re going to be looking for it.”

The authors conclude that, as many states consider the legalization of marijuana, more study should be conducted with regard to the effects of chronic use of the drug on the endocrine system.

“Of course this is one case report, but I think it should alert further research that needs to be done, “ said Pinsker. “Something prospectively should be done to map this out more scientifically, but this would be difficult in what, to-date, has been an illegal substance.”

For more information:

Pinsker R. Abstract #825. Presented at: the AACE Annual Scientific and Clinical Congress; May 1-5, 2013; Phoenix.

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

 From Healio.com
%d bloggers like this: