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Acta Ginecol (Madr). 1984 Apr;41(4):201-6.

[Amenorrhea following the administration of oral contraceptives].

[Article in Spanish]



It is estimated that about 2.2% of women experience amenorrhea and anovulatory cycles after discontinuing use of oral contraceptives (OCs), although exact figures are lacking due to differences of definition and problems of diagnosis. Several possible mechanisms to explain the occurrence of postpill amenorrhea have been suggested, including endometrial atrophy and fibrosis, changes in the ovaries similar to those found in Stein-Levanthal syndrome, hypothalamic disorder, late menarche, irregular cycles, and periods of amenorrhea before or during OC use. Previous pregnancies, duration of pill use, and formulation utilized are apparently not related to occurrence of post-pill amenorrhea. Clinical diagnosis requires detection of ovulation by means of basal body temperature, cervical mucus changes, and vaginal smears. If amenorrhea persists after administration of a progestagen to induce bleeding, more complete examinations must be done to exclude pituitary tumor, Cushing's syndrome, thyroid problems, and possible precocious menopause or anorexia nervosa. X-rays, administration of thyroid or suprarenal hormones, gonadotropins, or estrogens, an endometrial biopsy, or laparoscopy may be necessary. Generally all test values are normal except that levels of estrogens, follicle stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone are usually reduced. Treatment of post-pill amenorrhea can take various forms. About 5% of cases appear to resolve spontaneouusly; efforts should therefore be made to detect ovulation through basal body temperature, cervical mucus and vaginal smears. Corticosteroids including prednisone and dexametasone may administrered, or if estrogen levels are low and the patient fails to respond to progestagens with withdrawal bleeding, clomiphene may be used. Human menopausal gonadotropin or human chorionic gonadotropin can be in patients with low estrogen levels who do not respond to clomiphene. Ergocriptine derivatives may be used in cases with associated galactorrhea due to basal hyperprolactinemia. Palliative treatment with OCs may be used in patients who wish to avoid pregnancy. The prognosis is always poor in the presence of galactorrhea or if progestagen administration is not followed by withdrawal bleeding or estrogen levels are low. Treatment is usually futile in cases of polycystic ovaries that have sclerosed. The most significant feature of such amenorrhea is its role in infertility. If the patient wishes to become pregnant after some period of OC use, it is advisable to interrupt treatment periodically until 1-2 normal menstrual cycles have reappeared, especially in young patients who had irregular cycles before initiating hormonal contraception.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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