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NEWS 67 OCTOBER 2001

FUNCTIONAL HYPOTHALAMIC AMENORRHOEA
Functional hypothalamic amenorrhoea (FHA) affects some 5% of women in their reproductive years. It is characterised by elevation of the stress hormone cortisol and manifests with very irregular or absent periods, often for as long as two years or more, and consequential infertility. It may also cause bone loss and affect brain function, whilst fertility drug induced pregnancy in women who have FHA may lead to early delivery or poor foetal brain development. Women with FHA tend to share certain characteristics such as a tendency toward perfectionism, overwork and poor nutritional or lifestyle choices. Fourteen women took part in a recent 20-week study. Seven were treated with sessions of cognitive behaviour therapy and dietary counselling, while seven were not. Of the treated women, six fully recovered normal menstrual cycles, and one partially recovered. Of those not treated, only one fully recovered, one partially recovered, and five continued to experience FHA. (Proceedings of the 83rd Annual Meeting of The Endocrine Society, http:// www.endo-society.org).

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