Reproductive/Sexual Hormone Disorders

Reproductive hormones stimulate or control the sexual organs and reproductive systems in both men and women. In women, hormones including estrogen, progesterone and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are vital to menstruation and pregnancy. In men, sexual hormones are called androgens. The main androgen is testosterone.

Usually, our endocrine glands keep our reproductive hormones at the right levels, but many factors can cause hormone levels to be too high or too low. This can lead to problems with sexual development, fertility and more.

Mercy endocrinologists specialize in diagnosing and treating sexual hormone disorders and related conditions. Our skilled teams will determine which of your hormones may be affected and why, and develop a plan to bring them back into balance. Common reproductive hormone disorders include:

Low Testosterone

Testosterone production is highest during puberty and gradually declines after age 30. Besides age, other factors may contribute to low testosterone levels, such as an injury to the testicles, infection, Type 2 diabetes, medications and more.

For some men, a decrease in testosterone may cause symptoms such as a reduced sex drive, depression or erectile problems.

Your doctor can order a blood test to measure your testosterone levels. If you do have low testosterone, hormone replacement therapy can bring your testosterone levels back to normal. Talk with your physician about the benefits and risks of testosterone treatment.

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that develops when a woman’s reproductive hormones become out of balance. While the ovaries normally make a small amount of male sex hormones (androgens), women with PCOS have levels that are higher than normal. Often, women with PCOS have multiple small but harmless cysts on their ovaries.

PCOS can interfere with ovulation. In addition, it can affect the body’s ability to use insulin, which can eventually lead to diabetes.

Symptoms of PCOS may include:

  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Extra facial and body hair with thinning scalp hair
  • Irregular periods
  • Infertility
  • Depression

Mercy physicians diagnose PCOS through a physical exam and lab tests to check hormone levels. You may also have a pelvic ultrasound to look for cysts.

For many women with PCOS, lifestyle changes are an important part of treatment. Losing weight can help bring the hormones back into balance. Getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet also can help with symptoms. If needed, your doctor may recommend birth control pills or other medications to treat the hormone imbalance and relieve symptoms while you get back to good health.

Menopause

Menopause, or the end of a woman’s menstrual periods, is a gradual process marked by significant changes in her estrogen levels. These changes can cause a variety of physical and emotional symptoms ranging from mood swings and hot flashes to heart disease and osteoporosis. Mercy physicians work closely with women who are experiencing menopause symptoms and provide understanding care.

Mercy knows that many reproductive hormones disorders can be upsetting and affect both your physical health and your emotional well-being. We’re here to reassure you that you’re not alone, and we’ll help you through with care and compassion.

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