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 firstname.lastname@example.org; 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.
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.
Filed under: pituitary, Rare Diseases | Tagged: blurry vision, Bromocriptine, CT scan, diabetes mellitus, fertility, Follicle Stimulating Hormone, FSH, headache, irregular periods, LH, Luteinizing Hormone, MRI, Norprolac, Novelon, optic nerve, pituitary, Polycystic ovary syndrome, prolactin, testosterone, Thyroid-stimulating hormone, TSH | Leave a comment »