Secondary Amenorrhea: A Description, Not A Diagnosis

Secondary Amenorrhea: A Description, Not A Diagnosis

Question:

Hello Dr. Ramirez,

I’m 20 and 293 pounds. I have had  Secondary Amenorrhea for close to 4 years now. It is apparently being caused by my weight. I’m not planning to TTC for at least another 12 or 13 years. I don’t hate babies but it’s not just a good time on the emotional or financial level to have them. If I’m able to get down to a decent weight and get rid of this disease,  What are my chances of getting pregnant when it’s time for me to TTC???

There’s a history of Diabetes in my family and I haven’t had a asthma attack since I was 8.My mom had thyroid disease before I was born but I don’t think that’s genetic. But I don’t have any other diseases than the SA at the current moment and my hormone levels were just fine at my last doctor appt which was last October. I’ve been on progesterone more than I count and it gets me a period but I want to have it without the help of drugs. Is there some kind of natural cure to SA??

I know that it seems a bit silly to ask about this NOW but I’m not getting any real answers about this disease from my OB. Everytime I asked my OB about this, she would tell me not to worry about it or brings a therapist in the room to basically tell me that I’m crazy.

She’s since moved her practice out of state and I have a new OB that I’ll start seeing very soon. But how in the hell am I crazy for wanting to be proactive about my own health?? I’m sorry for the language but I’m just so fed up about this and at my wits end.

I know that I’m not producing eggs right now but what else could this be doing to my body?? Do I have a reason to be concerned about it besides the obvious infertility scare?? If I do get rid of this disease,  Is there some kind of leftover side effect that could cause me to get Ovarian Cancer in the future??

I don’t have these answers and I need to know what’s going on. Please help me clear at least some of this up.

Thank You. D. R. from Michigan.

Answer:

Hello D. R. from the U.S. (Michigan),

Good riddance to your previous Ob doctor!  “Secondary Amenorrhea” is a description of a problem and NOT a diagnosis.  It just means that you used to have periods and now you don’t.  It doesn’t explain the cause.  The most common reason for old women to have secondary amenorrhea is menopause.  The most common reason for young women to have secondary amenorrhea is pregnancy.  However, a close second is an ovarian disorder called “Polycystic ovarian disease.”  This diagnosis is manifested by irregular or rare natural menstrual cycles and at least one of the following findings: ovaries that look like PCO ovaries on ultrasound, inverted FSH/LH ratio, obesity, hirsuitism (increased facial hair), elevated testosterone levels, diabetes, elevate insulin levels signifying insulin resistance.  I think that you have PCOD but without a thorough endocrine evaluation, I cannot say for sure. 

With this disorder, you have a hormonal imbalance and that needs to be corrected.  The most simple way to do that is to use a low androgen birth control pill such as Yaz.  Once you are ready for pregnancy, then you will have to use fertility medications, which actually do not increase your fertility but induce your ovaries to ovulate, so that you can give off an egg to get pregnant.  You need to see a COMPETENT gynecologist or a reproductive endocrinologist to be evaluated and treated correctly!

You may want to see a more detailed explanation of Polycystic Ovarian Disease on my website.

Glad you wrote! Good Luck,

Edward J. Ramirez, M.D.
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility And Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF

Monterey, California, U.S.A.