Eight thalassemic patients, aged 24–35 years, who developed amenorrhea 2–15 years after menarche, were studied. Mean basal serum LH and FSH levels and the peak levels after gonadotropin-releasing hormone were significantly less than corresponding values in normal controls. All patients showed low basal serum levels of estradiol and six had a poor or absent response to human menopausal gonadotropin. One subject had intact pituitary-gonadal function and one patient had an impaired LH and FSH response to gonadotropin-releasing hormone in the presence of a significant increase of estradiol after human menopausal gonadotropin stimulation. The findings regarding pituitary hormones other than gonadotropins suggest that iron overload damages tropic cells unequally and inconsistently. We conclude that both pituitary and gonadal damage may be responsible for the secondary amenorrhea in thalassemic patients.
© 1988 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists