Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea: current view on neuroendocrine aberrations

Gynecol Endocrinol. 2008 Jan;24(1):4-11. doi: 10.1080/09513590701807381.


Functional hypothalamic amenorrhea (FHA) is defined as a non-organic and reversible disorder in which the impairment of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) pulsatile secretion plays a key role. There are main three types of FHA: stress-related amenorrhea, weight loss-related amenorrhea and exercise-related amenorrhea. The spectrum of GnRH-luteinizing hormone (LH) disturbances in FHA is very broad and includes lower mean frequency of LH pulses, complete absence of LH pulsatility, normal-appearing secretion pattern and higher mean frequency of LH pulses. Precise mechanisms underlying the pathophysiology of FHA are very complex and unclear. Numerous neuropeptides, neurotransmitters and neurosteroids play important roles in the physiological regulation of GnRH pulsatile secretion and there is evidence that different neuropeptides may be involved in the pathophysiology of FHA. Particular attention is paid to such substances as allopregnanolone, neuropeptide Y, corticotropin-releasing hormone, leptin, ghrelin and beta-endorphin. Some studies reveal significant changes in these mentioned substances in patients with FHA. There are also speculations about use some of these substances or their antagonists in the treatment of FHA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea / physiopathology*
  • Amenorrhea / psychology
  • Female
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone / deficiency
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamic Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Neuropeptides / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological / complications
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology


  • Neuropeptides
  • Gonadotropin-Releasing Hormone