Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Abuse-related posttraumatic stress disorder and alterations of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in women with chronic pelvic pain


Heim, C; Ehlert, Ulrike; Hanker, J P; Hellhammer, D H (1998). Abuse-related posttraumatic stress disorder and alterations of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in women with chronic pelvic pain. Psychosomatic Medicine, 60(3):309-3018.

Abstract

Objective: Although numerous organic conditions may cause chronic pelvic pain (CPP), diagnostic laparoscopy reveals a normal pelvis in many patients with CPP. However, psychological studies yield a high frequency of psychopathology and increased prevalences of chronic stress and traumatic life events, ie, sexual and physical abuse, in women with CPP, suggesting a relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and CPP. As chronic stress and PTSD have been associated with specific alterations of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, we explored stress history, psychopathology and HPA axis alterations in women with CPP. Method: We recruited 16 patients with CPP and 14 painfree, infertile controls from a general hospital where diagnostic laparoscopy was performed. Psychological assessment included standardized interviews on clinical symptoms, abuse experiences and major Life events as well as psychometric testing for PTSD-like symptoms and depression. Endocrinological evaluation involved determinations of diurnal salivary cortisol levels and hormonal responses to a corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) stimulation test (100 mu g human CRF) and a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (0.5 mg). Results: We observed increased prevalences of abuse experiences and PTSD in women with CPP as well as a higher total number of major life events, whereas the mean extent of depression was within the normal range. With respect to endocrine measures, women with CPP demonstrated normal to low diurnal salivary cortisol levels, normal plasma-adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), but reduced salivary cortisol levels in the CRF stimulation test, and an enhanced suppression of salivary cortisol by dexamethasone. Conclusion: Women with CPP demonstrate HPA axis alterations, that partly parallel and partly contrast neuroendocrine correlates of PTSD, but show marked similarity to findings in patients with other stress-related bodily disorders. These findings suggest that a lack of protective properties of cortisol may be of relevance for the development of bodily disorders in chronically stressed or traumatized individuals.

Abstract

Objective: Although numerous organic conditions may cause chronic pelvic pain (CPP), diagnostic laparoscopy reveals a normal pelvis in many patients with CPP. However, psychological studies yield a high frequency of psychopathology and increased prevalences of chronic stress and traumatic life events, ie, sexual and physical abuse, in women with CPP, suggesting a relationship between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and CPP. As chronic stress and PTSD have been associated with specific alterations of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, we explored stress history, psychopathology and HPA axis alterations in women with CPP. Method: We recruited 16 patients with CPP and 14 painfree, infertile controls from a general hospital where diagnostic laparoscopy was performed. Psychological assessment included standardized interviews on clinical symptoms, abuse experiences and major Life events as well as psychometric testing for PTSD-like symptoms and depression. Endocrinological evaluation involved determinations of diurnal salivary cortisol levels and hormonal responses to a corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) stimulation test (100 mu g human CRF) and a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test (0.5 mg). Results: We observed increased prevalences of abuse experiences and PTSD in women with CPP as well as a higher total number of major life events, whereas the mean extent of depression was within the normal range. With respect to endocrine measures, women with CPP demonstrated normal to low diurnal salivary cortisol levels, normal plasma-adrenocorticotropin (ACTH), but reduced salivary cortisol levels in the CRF stimulation test, and an enhanced suppression of salivary cortisol by dexamethasone. Conclusion: Women with CPP demonstrate HPA axis alterations, that partly parallel and partly contrast neuroendocrine correlates of PTSD, but show marked similarity to findings in patients with other stress-related bodily disorders. These findings suggest that a lack of protective properties of cortisol may be of relevance for the development of bodily disorders in chronically stressed or traumatized individuals.

Statistics

Citations

187 citations in Web of Science®
210 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™

Altmetrics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:1998
Deposited On:10 Oct 2012 14:21
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:59
Publisher:American Psychosomatic Society
ISSN:0033-3174
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1097/00006842-199805000-00017
PubMed ID:9625218

Download

Full text not available from this repository.
View at publisher