Most people have never heard of Sheehan’s Syndrome. So, when I share with people that I have Sheehan’s Syndrome they usually ask, “What is Sheehan’s Syndrome?” I then go on to explain that Sheehan’s Syndrome is caused by severe blood loss during or after childbirth. The blood loss during and post childbirth can be particularly damaging to the pituitary gland. The loss of blood to the pituitary gland may destroy hormone producing tissue. When necrosis of the pituitary gland occurs the pituitary may lose some or all of its function.
The disease, Sheehan’s Syndrome is named after Dr. Harold Leeming Sheehan. In 1937 Dr. Sheehan’s complete concept of the syndrome was reviewed. He emphasized that during pregnancy the pituitary becomes enlarged, but its blood supply becomes diminished.
If a woman hemorrhages during childbirth it causes a severe drop in blood pressure (hypotension) and may damage the pituitary. A simple way to understand this concept is the loss of blood (hemorrhaging) to the pituitary creates an infarct (stroke) in the pituitary. The infarct may cause part or all of the pituitary gland to stop functioning. The damaging results from a pituitary gland infarct can occur immediately after childbirth or decline gradually.
The pituitary gland is a burnt red, soft, oval pea sized gland that is located at the base of our brain and is often referred to as the master gland. The pituitary gland is referred to as the master gland because the pituitary gland releases hormones that control most of our endocrine system.
The pituitary gland signals other glands to increase or decrease productions of hormones that control stress, muscle mass, urinary output, metabolism, fertility, wound healing and many other vital processes. A lack of any of these hormones can cause problems throughout your body. The signs and symptoms of pituitary deficiency may develop so gradually that they escape being noticed.
Hormones secreted by the pituitary gland:
Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH)
Anti-diuretic Hormone (ADH)
Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
Many doctors have never treated a Sheehan’s Syndrome patient and they may have only briefly read about the disease in medical school. Some women may have a difficulty time finding a doctor to diagnose them with Sheehan’s Syndrome.
Here is the link to my Sheehan’s Syndrome story. You can read more about HypoGal at www.HypoGal.com.