Persistent amenorrhoea in weight-recovered anorexics: psychological and biological aspects

Psychiatry Res. 2003 Jun 15;118(3):249-57. doi: 10.1016/s0165-1781(03)00074-x.


Demographic, psychopathological and hormonal parameters of 22 women with previous anorexia nervosa (AN) presently recovered, in a state of stabilized nutritional normalization for 3 months to 2 years but with persistent amenorrhoea, and of 20 psychophysically healthy age- and sex-matched normally menstruating controls were studied. Body mass index (BMI) values did not differ in patients and controls. Psychological examination, monitored by Eating Disorder Inventory 1, Bulimic Investigation Test Edinburgh, Yale-Brown-Cornell Eating Disorder Scale, and Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire rating scales, showed the persistence of some of the psychopathological symptoms of AN. Hormonal examinations included basal plasma concentrations of follicle stimulating hormone, luteotropic hormone, estrogens (E), progesterone, thyrotropic hormone, FT(3), FT(4) (immunoradiometric assays), leptin (LEP) (enzymatic-linked-immunosorbent assay) and 24 h urinary free cortisol (immunoradiometric assay). Hormone values were the same in patients and controls, except for E and LEP levels, which were significantly lower in patients than in controls. The concentrations of the two hormones were not correlated with the BMI of the patients, but LEP values were correlated negatively with the difference between the present BMI and the preanorexic one. The values of both hormones correlated negatively with some of the psychopathological aspects typical of AN, in particular with high 'body dissatisfaction', 'ineffectiveness', and 'interpersonal distrust' and with low 'interoceptive awareness'.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea* / blood
  • Amenorrhea* / epidemiology
  • Amenorrhea* / psychology
  • Anorexia Nervosa / epidemiology*
  • Anorexia Nervosa / therapy*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Estrogens / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Leptin / blood
  • Personality Disorders / diagnosis
  • Personality Inventory
  • Progesterone / blood
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Recurrence
  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone / blood
  • Weight Gain*


  • Estrogens
  • Leptin
  • Progesterone
  • Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone