Vol 66, No 3 (2015)
Review paper
Published online: 2015-07-01

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Functional hypothalamic amenorrhoea – diagnostic challenges, monitoring, and treatment

Elżbieta Sowińska-Przepiera, Elżbieta Andrysiak-Mamos, Grażyna Jarząbek-Bielecka, Aleksandra Walkowiak, Lilianna Osowicz-Korolonek, Małgorzata Syrenicz, Witold Kędzia, Anhelli Syrenicz
DOI: 10.5603/EP.2015.0033
Pubmed: 26136135
Endokrynol Pol 2015;66(3):252-268.


Functional hypothalamic amenorrhoea (FHA) is associated with functional inhibition of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis. Causes of FHA can be classified into the three groups: 1) stress-related factors, 2) consequences of weight loss and/or underweight, and 3) consequences of physical exercise or practicing sports. Diagnosis of FHA should be based on a history of menstrual disorders. During physical examination, patients with FHA present with secondary and tertiary sex characteristics specific for the pubertal stage preceding development of the condition and with the signs of hypoestrogenism. Laboratory results determine further management of patients with amenorrhea, and thus their correct interpretation is vital for making appropriate therapeutic decisions. Treatment of chronic anovulation, menstrual disorders, and secondary amenorrhea resulting from hypothalamic disorders should be aimed at the elimination of the primary cause, i.e. a decrease in psycho-emotional strain, avoidance of chronic stressors, reduction of physical exercise level, or optimisation of BMI in patients who lose weight. If menses do not resume after a period of six months or primary causative treatment is not possible, neutralisation of hypoestrogenism consequences, especially unfavourable effects on bone metabolism, become the main issue. Previous studies have shown that oestroprogestagen therapy is useful in both the treatment of menstrual disorders and normalisation of bone mineral density. Hormonal preparations should be introduced into therapeutic protocol on an individualised basis. (Endokrynol Pol 2015; 66 (3): 252–268)