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Open access

S Vimalesvaran, S Narayanaswamy, L Yang, J K Prague, A Buckley, A D Miras, S Franks, K Meeran and W S Dhillo

Summary

Primary amenorrhoea is defined as the failure to commence menstruation by the age of 15 years, in the presence of normal secondary sexual development. The potential causes of primary amenorrhoea extend from structural to chromosomal abnormalities. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common cause of secondary amenorrhoea but an uncommon cause of primary amenorrhoea. An early and prompt diagnosis of PCOS is important, as up to 30% of these women are predisposed to glucose intolerance and obesity, with the subgroup of women presenting with primary amenorrhoea and PCOS displaying a higher incidence of metabolic dysfunction. We describe a case of an 18-year-old female presenting with primary amenorrhoea of unknown aetiology. Although initial investigations did not demonstrate clinical or biochemical hyperandrogenism or any radiological evidence of polycystic ovaries, a raised luteinising hormone (LH) suggested a diagnosis of PCOS. If PCOS was the correct diagnosis, then one would expect intact hypothalamic GnRH and pituitary gonadotropin release. We used the novel hormone kisspeptin to confirm intact hypothalamic GnRH release and a GnRH stimulation test to confirm intact pituitary gonadotroph function. This case highlights that kisspeptin is a potential unique tool to test GnRH function in patients presenting with reproductive disorders.

Learning points:

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can present with primary amenorrhoea, and therefore, should be considered in the differential diagnosis.

  • PCOS is a heterogeneous condition that may present in lean women with few or absent signs of hyperandrogenism.

  • GnRH stimulation tests are useful in evaluating pituitary function; however, to date, we do not have a viable test of GnRH function. Kisspeptin has the potential to form a novel diagnostic tool for assessing hypothalamic GnRH function by monitoring gonadotropin response as a surrogate marker of GnRH release.

  • Confirmation of intact GnRH function helps consolidate a diagnosis in primary amenorrhoea and gives an indication of future fertility.

Open access

Ana Marina Moreira and Poli Mara Spritzer

Summary

Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is the condition of intermittent or permanent gonadal insufficiency that occurs in women before the age of 40. We describe three cases of POI referred to the outpatient endocrinology clinic of a university hospital. The three patients met diagnostic criteria for POI and were managed by specific approaches tailored to individualized goals. In the first case, the main concern was fertility and the reproductive prognosis. The second patient was a carrier of a common genetic cause of POI: premutation of the FMR1 gene. The third case was a patient diagnosed with a POI and established osteoporosis, a common complication of estrogen deprivation. This study reports the treatment and follow-up of these cases, with an emphasis on relevant aspects of individualized management, alongside a brief literature review.

Learning points

  • A diagnosis of POI should be considered in patients presenting with amenorrhea or irregular menses and high serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels before age 40 years.

  • Patients with POI without an established cause, especially in familial cases, should be tested for FMR1 mutations.

  • Estrogen/progestin replacement therapy is indicated since diagnosis until at least the estimated age of menopause, and is the cornerstone for maintaining the good health of breast and urogenital tract and for primary or secondary osteoporosis prevention in POI.

  • Fertility should be managed through an individualized approach based on patient possibilities, such as egg or embryo donation and ovarian cryopreservation; pregnancy can occur spontaneously in a minority of cases.

  • Women with POI should be carefully monitored for cardiovascular risk factors.

Open access

Ahmed Iqbal, Peter Novodvorsky, Alexandra Lubina-Solomon, Fiona M Kew and Jonathan Webster

Summary

Secondary amenorrhoea and galactorrhoea represent a common endocrine presentation. We report a case of an oestrogen-producing juvenile granulosa cell tumour (JGCT) of the ovary in a 16-year-old post-pubertal woman with hyperprolactinaemia amenorrhoea and galactorrhoea which resolved following surgical resection of the tumour. This patient presented with a 9-month history of secondary amenorrhoea and a 2-month history of galactorrhoea. Elevated serum prolactin at 7081 mIU/l and suppressed gonadotropins (LH <0.1 U/l; FSH <0.1 U/l) were detected. Serum oestradiol was significantly elevated at 7442 pmol/l with undetectable β-human chorionic gonadotropin. MRI showed a bulky pituitary with no visible adenoma. MRI of the abdomen showed a 4.8 cm mass arising from the right ovary with no evidence of metastatic disease. Serum inhibin B was elevated at 2735 ng/l. A right salpingo-oophorectomy was performed, and histology confirmed the diagnosis of a JGCT, stage International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics 1A. Immunohistochemical staining for prolactin was negative. Post-operatively, oestrogen and prolactin levels were normalised, and she subsequently had a successful pregnancy. In summary, we present a case of an oestrogen-secreting JGCT with hyperprolactinaemia manifesting clinically with galactorrhoea and secondary amenorrhoea. We postulate that observed hyperprolactinaemia was caused by oestrogenic stimulation of pituitary lactotroph cells, a biochemical state analogous to pregnancy. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of hyperprolactinaemia as a result of excessive oestrogen production in the context of a JGCT.

Learning points

  • Hyperprolactinaemia with bilateral galactorrhoea and secondary amenorrhoea has a wide differential diagnosis and is not always caused by a prolactin secreting pituitary adenoma.

  • Significantly elevated serum oestradiol levels in the range seen in this case, in the absence of pregnancy, are indicative of an oestrogen-secreting tumour.

  • JGCTs are rare hormonally active ovarian neoplasms mostly secreting steroid hormones.

  • Serum inhibin can be used as a granulosa cell-specific tumour marker.

  • JGCTs have an excellent prognosis in the early stages of the disease.

Open access

Jeremy M W Kirk, Nalin Wickramasuriya and Nicholas J Shaw

Summary

Estrogen is used to induce puberty in peripubertal girls with hypogonadism. Although both synthetic and natural forms are available, along with different routes of administration, in the UK oral ethinyl estradiol and the low-dose oral contraceptive pill are commonly used as hormone replacement therapy for practical reasons. We present five peripubertal girls (aged 12.5–14.9 years) with hypogonadism (two with primary hypogonadism due to Turner syndrome and three with central (secondary) hypogonadism as part of multiple pituitary hormone deficiency) who for a variety of reasons have received milligram doses of estradiol (E2) in error for between 6 weeks and 6 months, instead of the expected microgram doses of ethinyl estradiol. Although there are no direct comparisons in peripubertal girls between synthetic and natural estrogens, all girls had vaginal bleeding whilst receiving the milligram doses and have ended up with reduced final heights, below the 9th centile in 1 and below the 2nd centile in 4. Whilst reduction in final height may be part of the underlying condition (especially in Turner syndrome) the two girls with height predictions performed prior to receiving the estrogen overdose have not achieved their predicted height. Estrogen is one of the few drugs which is available in both milligram and microgram formulations. Clinicians need to be alert to the possibility of patients receiving the wrong formulation and dosage in error.

Learning points

  • Girls with primary and secondary gonadal failure require assistance with pubertal induction.

  • Although several different formulations and route of administration are available, for practical reasons, the majority of girls in the UK receive oral ethinyl estradiol.

  • Estrogen preparations are available in both milligram and microgram formulations, with potential for receiving the wrong dose.

  • Girls receiving milligram rather than microgram preparations all had vaginal bleeding and a short final height.