medications, progesterone, provera, anovulation, Amenorrhea, estrogen, testosterone

Q: I have no period and did not bleed at all even after taking Provera. What does this mean?

A: Provera is given as the 'Progesterone (Provera) Challenge Test' to women who have no period and who are not pregnant. In this test, 10 mg of Provera is often given over 7-10 days and bleeding is expected within 2 weeks after the last pill.

Vaginal Bleeding

If there is vaginal bleeding after this test then the diagnosis at this point is anovulation. Some experts believe that an LH and FSH level may be helpful at this point. If the LH is high (above about 10 MIU/ml) and the LH/FSH ratio is above 2:1, this supports the clinical diagnosis of polycystic ovarian disease (PCO).  However, many patients with PCO do not demonstrate this high LH/FSH ratio. Testosterone and DHEAS levels may be useful in women with PCO, especially in the presence of hirsutism or other signs of hyperandrogenism (excess male hormones).

No Vaginal Bleeding

If there is no vaginal bleeding after this test, then there could be one of three conditions:

1. Premature ovarian failure
2. A low estrogen level, usually hypothalamic-pituitary failure
3. Outflow tract obstruction: Scarring in the uterus or cervix

There are several ways to find out what's going on and the next step is to do an FSH blood test.

A high FSH level (above 30-40 mIU/ml) is indicative of anovulation due to premature ovarian failure.

If the FSH is normal then a course of estrogen and progestin is given. Estrogen is given to induce endometrial growth, followed by a progestin to induce withdrawal. A course of 2.5 mg of Premarin for 21 days including 10 mg of Provera on days 17-21 will be adequate.

If bleeding with a normal FSH occurs after estrogen/progesterone, then the amenorrhea is likely due to low estrogen. Some medications as well as extremes of weight loss, stress or exercise can cause this type of secondary amenorrhea. A baseline CT (or MRI) could easily rule this out.

If bleeding does not occur, then there is most likely an 'outflow tract obstruction': either Asherman's syndrome or cervical stenosis. For women who do not bleed after the combined hormonal regimen, the next step is either hysterosalpingography or hysteroscopy. If adhesions are found, they should be hysteroscopically lysed (cut out) if the patient wants to become pregnant or menstruate.

Read More:
Why Am I Not Ovulating?
When Am I Most Fertile?
Pregnancy Symptoms: Early Signs You May Be Pregnant