What are the endocrine causes of menorrhagia?

Updated: Dec 20, 2018
  • Author: Julia A Shaw, MD, MBA, FACOG; Chief Editor: Michel E Rivlin, MD  more...
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Endocrine causes of menorrhagia include thyroid and adrenal gland dysfunction, pituitary tumors, anovulatory cycles, PCOS, obesity, and vasculature imbalance. Note the following:

  • Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism result in menorrhagia. Even subclinical cases of hypothyroidism produce heavy uterine bleeding in 20% of patients. Menorrhagia usually resolves with correction of the thyroid disorder. [20]

  • Prolactin-producing pituitary tumors cause menorrhagia by disrupting (GnRH) secretion. This leads to decreased LH and FSH levels, which ultimately cause hypogonadism. Interim stages of menorrhagia result until hypogonadism manifests.

  • The most common etiology of heavy uterine bleeding is anovulatory cycles. The finding of menorrhagia at irregular intervals without any known organic etiology confirms the clinical diagnosis. This is most common in adolescent and perimenopausal populations.

  • The hallmarks of PCOS are anovulation, irregular menses, obesity, and hirsutism. Insulin resistance is common and increases androgen production by the ovaries.

  • Hyperinsulinemia is a direct consequence of obesity. This overproduction of insulin leads to ovarian production of androgens, as occurs in PCOS.

  • Vasculature imbalance is theorized to be the result of a discrepancy between the vasoconstricting and aggregating actions of prostaglandin F2 (alpha) and thromboxane A2 and the vasodilating actions of prostaglandin E2 and prostacyclin on the myometrial and endometrial vasculature.

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