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Hypopituitarism

What Is Hypopituitarism?

Hypopituitarism is a condition in which your pituitary gland is underactive. This results in a deficiency of one or more pituitary hormones.

The pituitary is a pea-sized gland at the base of your brain. It releases a number of hormones into your bloodstream. These hormones control the function of your pituitary gland and several other endocrine glands, including your thyroid, reproductive organs and adrenal glands.

Hypopituitarism causes include:

  • Brain tumor, injury or surgery
  • Brain infections or inflammation
  • Pituitary apoplexy (bleeding or blocked blood flow)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stroke
  • Bleeding from a burst aneurysm
  • Tumors
  • Certain rare immune system or metabolic diseases
  • Pregnancy-related complications (Sheehan syndrome)
  • Certain medicines, especially some cancer treatments.

Symptoms

Symptoms of hypopituitarism can develop slowly and vary widely. One or more hormones may be missing and this can affect your organs.

Hypopituitarism symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Appetite loss
  • Low sex drive (in men and women)
  • Failure to release milk (in women)
  • Hoarseness or changing voice
  • Infertility (in women) or stopping of menstrual periods
  • Slowed growth and sexual development (in children)
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headache
  • Hair loss
  • Joint stiffness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss

Treatment Options

Your doctor may use imaging tests such as CT scan and MRI. Blood tests can measure ACTH – the pituitary hormones - to check for abnormalities. If a tumor is causing hypopituitarism, your doctor may recommend surgery and radiation therapy.

If certain organs are no longer making hormones, you may need lifelong hormone-replacement therapy. Medication can replace any hormones that are no longer made by the pituitary gland or other glands controlled by your pituitary gland. These may include:

  • Corticosteroids (cortisol)
  • Growth hormone
  • Testosterone or estrogen
  • Thyroid hormone
  • Desmopressin

Your doctor will prescribe appropriate treatment for any related conditions, such as infertility.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of hypopituitarism, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat hypopituitarism.