Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Hypothalamic Amenorrhea?
- 2 What Are the Causes of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea?
- 3 Can You Live Without Hypothalamus?
- 4 How Is Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Treated?
What Is Hypothalamic Amenorrhea?
Amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation. Hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA) is a type of amenorrhea that occurs when the hypothalamus, a small region at the base of the brain, doesn’t signal the pituitary gland to release certain hormones needed for ovulation and menstruation.
What Are the Causes of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea?
There are many possible causes of hypothalamic amenorrhea, including:
Physical or emotional stress can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones needed for ovulation and menstruation. Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one, a divorce or a job loss, can trigger HA. So can chronic stress from a demanding job, perfectionism, illness, or strenuous exercise regimen.
2) Extreme Weight Loss
Severe calorie restriction, rapid weight loss and significantly low body fat can lead to amenorrhea. This is often seen in women with eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
3) Excessive Exercise
Like extreme weight loss, too much exercise can lead to amenorrhea. This is often seen in female athletes or women who exercise excessively. Cholesterol converts to hormones and so when body fat is dangerously low amenorrhea usually follows.
4) Pituitary Disorders
Conditions that affect the pituitary gland, such as tumors or infections, can disrupt hormone production and cause HA.
5) Thyroid Disorders
Conditions that affect the thyroid gland, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, can also disrupt hormone production and cause HA.
6) Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
As mentioned above, PCOS-polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormonal disorder that can interfere with ovulation and lead to amenorrhea.
7) Premature Menopause
This is when menstruation stops before age 40 due to menopause. Check your FSH levels if you suspect this before it is too late. A simple saliva hormone test can help to identify this and you may be able to slow the onset of menopause somewhat.
Can You Live Without Hypothalamus?
You can live without the hypothalamus, but you would not survive for long. The hypothalamus is responsible for many vital functions, including regulating body temperature, controlling hunger and thirst, and managing stress. It also regulates the production of hormones by the pituitary gland. Without the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland would not function properly, and you would not survive.
How Is Hypothalamic Amenorrhea Treated?
Treatment for HA typically focuses on the underlying cause. For example, if stress is the cause, your doctor may recommend stress-reduction techniques, such as yoga or meditation. If you have an eating disorder, you’ll need to seek help from a counselor, pastor or support group. If you’re overweight or obese, your doctor may recommend weight-loss strategies, such as diet and exercise.
In some cases, hormone therapy may be necessary to trigger ovulation and menstruation. Some have had great success with the natural progesterone challenge / protocol. Consider the connection of pregnenolone and amenorrhea as well. or with injections of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH).