the pituitary gland functions

What Causes Sheehan’s Syndrome?

What causes Sheehan's Syndrome?

What Causes Sheehan’s Syndrome?

Sheehan’s Syndrome is caused by the severe blood loss during or after childbirth. 

The loss of blood supply to the pituitary gland may cause hormone-producing tissue to be destroyed.

When hormone-producing tissue of the pituitary gland is destroyed the pituitary gland may lose some or all of its hormonal function.

These are the hormones secreted by the pituitary gland;

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH)
  • Growth Hormone
  • Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH)
  • Oxytocin Prolactin
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
  • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
  • Thyroid-Stimulation Hormone (TSH)

Who Is Sheehan’s Syndrome Named After?

The disease, Sheehan’s Syndrome is named after Dr. Harold Leeming Sheehan.

In 1937 Dr. Sheehan’s complete concept of the Sheehan’s Syndrome was reviewed.

Dr. Harold Leeming Sheehan emphasized that during pregnancy the pituitary gland 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.

How To Understand What Causes Sheehan’s Syndrome

A simple way to understand to understand what causes Sheehan’s Syndrome is to think of a stroke.

The loss of blood (hemorrhaging) to the pituitary gland creates an infarct (stroke) in the pituitary gland. 

The infarct may cause part or all of the pituitary gland to lose hormonal function.

The damage from a pituitary gland infarct can occur immediately after childbirth or decline gradually.

A damaged pituitary gland affects the pituitary gland’s ability to signal other glands.

The pituitary gland is responsible to signal an increase or decrease of hormones that control stress, muscle mass, urinary output, metabolism, fertility, wound healing and many other vital processes.

The pituitary gland’s lack of hormonal signals can cause health problems throughout your body. 

Unfortunately, the symptoms of pituitary gland deficiency may develop gradually.

The gradual onset of Sheehan’s Syndrome may cause Sheehan’s Syndrome not be diagnosed immediately. 

Sheehan’s Syndrome In Everyday Terms

Think of your pituitary gland as the ignition of your body. 

The parts of your automobile may be fully functional eg. wheels, engine, car body. 

However, if the car’s ignition does not work the automobile will not start. 

Your car will not be able to travel.

The same concept holds true with the pituitary gland. 

If your pituitary gland does not function then your pituitary gland is not able to signal other glands.

It is essential that the pituitary gland signals other glands to release hormones. 

Similar to an automobile’s ignition the pituitary gland may not fail all at once but slowly loss function. 


I hope, What Causes Sheehan’s Syndrome? has been insightful. 


Helpful Sheehan’s Syndrome Web Links:


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My experience with Warfin, Lovenox, and Xarelto Blood Thinners.

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