Pseudomenopause refers to a hormonal state in which a woman of reproductive age stops ovulating or producing enough hormones to have a menstrual cycle due to hormonal interruption. The hormonal interruption may be caused by medications that reduce natural hormone levels. It may also occur in women who naturally fail to produce sufficient levels of hormones during their reproductive age.
Pseudomenopause differs from natural menopause where menstrual cycles stop due to the natural decline in hormone levels related to aging. However, just like true menopause, this artificial state of menopause also interferes with a woman’s potential to conceive. Pseudomenopause is reversible with the removal of the offending medication or by inducing a menstrual cycle with the use of other hormones.
FertilitySmarts explains Pseudomenopause
Certain medications like GnRH agonists induce pseudomenopause. GnRH agonists are hormonal medications that work by reducing or blocking the release of the reproductive hormones called luteinizing hormone (LH ) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
These hormones are normally released in a pulsatile fashion from a small gland at the base of the brain called the pituitary gland. This pulsatile release of LH and FSH is what causes a woman to have regular periods. Because GnRH drugs block this pulsatile release of LH and FSH, they prevent ovulation as well as turn off the production of estrogen and progesterone from the ovaries.
These medications can be beneficial in the treatment of diseases like endometriosis where there is excessive production of estrogen.
During in vitro fertilization (IVF), GnRH drugs are used to prevent premature ovulation in order to control the timing of egg release for egg retrieval and fertilization. Often FSH is supplemented in order to support the growth of the eggs and uterine lining.
Although GnRH induces a pseudomenopausal-state, this is reversible when the drug is discontinued and the body starts to naturally produce fertility hormones again.
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