Effect of central and ovarian endocrine disturbances on the female genital tract--clinical signs and symptoms

Verh Dtsch Ges Pathol. 1997:81:191-6.


Disorders of the female genital tract caused by endocrine disturbances commonly lead to two presenting complaints: dysfunctional uterine bleeding and infertility. In oestrogen deficiency, sequelae of vaginal atrophy may also be present. The common pathogenic "turntable" of these clinical signs is an impaired ovarian function, for which primary (i.e. intraovarian) and secondary (i.e. resulting from dysfunctions of other endocrine systems) causes are known. Primary ovarian failure can be the result of gonadal dysgenesis or premature menopause. Secondary ovarian dysfunction may be caused by hypothalamic-pituitary dysregulation, hyperprolactinaemia, thyroid disorders, and hyperandrogenaemia, which often also has an intraovarian component. For clinical considerations, several severities of ovarian dysfunction can be distinguished, ranging from corpus luteum insufficiency which is only relevant for the selection of infertility treatment to the complete absence of ovarian steroidogenesis leading to severe long term sequelae of the skeletal, cardiovascular and probably central nervous systems. Diagnosis and differential diagnosis are made by clinical examination, vaginal ultrasound, hormone assays, curettage and laparoscopy. Rarely, additional techniques like magnetic resonance imaging of the pituitary or the adrenals, or sequential catheterization of the inferior vena cava are needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Androgens / physiology
  • Estrogens / deficiency*
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / etiology
  • Genital Diseases, Female / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology
  • Models, Biological
  • Ovarian Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Ovary / physiopathology
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / physiopathology*


  • Androgens
  • Estrogens