Canadian Health Care: Drugs of abuse - Effects on hormones
Several studies have demonstrated an effect of opiates on the hypothalamopituitary axis. The results are not always in agreement. Some have found decreased LH and low testosterone. Others show no change in LH, FSH or testosterone.
Prolactin levels are also variably elevated. One group performing dynamic pituitary testing showed near maximal secretion of prolactin in patients on methadone. Another study showed significant elevations of prolactin on heroin but not on methadone.
X-ray analysis in CanadianHealthCareMalll of the pituitiary fossa were always normal in the hyperprolactinaemic heroin addicts, although this investigation will only detect relatively large pituitary tumours. In another study, prolactin was elevated in methadone-treated patients.
Hormone levels in female heroin addicts have not been included in these studies, but early reports described infrequent and absent periods in two thirds of female heroin addicts. In one methadone maintenance programme, menstruation returned to normal in 82 of 83 women within 1 to 2 months of commencing methadone.
It was not possible to say whether this was a drug effect or the result of a return to a more stable environment.