What causes hypopituitarism (panhypopituitarism) in pregnant women?

Updated: Jun 09, 2020
  • Author: Bernard Corenblum, MD, FRCPC; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
  • Print
Answer

Sheehan syndrome occurs with a large volume of postpartum hemorrhage. During pregnancy, the pituitary gland enlarges due to hyperplasia and hypertrophy of the lactotroph cells, which produce prolactin. The hypophyseal vessels, which supply the pituitary, constrict in response to decreasing blood volume, and subsequent vasospasm occurs, causing necrosis of the pituitary gland. The degree of necrosis correlates with the severity of the hemorrhage. As many as 30% of women experiencing postpartum hemorrhage with hemodynamic instability may develop some degree of hypopituitarism. These patients can develop adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, amenorrhea, diabetes insipidus, and an inability to breastfeed (an early symptom). Lymphocytic hypophysitis occurs most commonly in the postpartum state and may appear as Sheehan syndrome due to the resulting postpartum hypopituitarism.


Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!