Reproductive & Sexual Hormone Disorders FAQs

Questions & Answers About Hormone Disorders

Hormones are vital to sexual development and fertility. Find out how hormone changes can affect your reproductive and sexual health – and how a Mercy endocrinologist can help. Learn the answers to several frequently asked questions about reproductive and sexual hormone disorders.

Hormone disorders affect men and women alike. They can lead to sexual health and fertility problems, including: 


  • Ovarian insufficiency – ovaries don’t develop, or they stop functioning before age 40 (premature menopause)
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — small cysts on the ovaries that can lead to infertility
  • Amenorrhea – starting menstruation older than age 16, or missing more than three months of menstrual periods
  • Hirsutism – excessive hair growth in children and women in areas where hair isn’t typically seen
  • Gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men) – swollen male breast tissue caused by a hormone imbalance
  • Low testosterone – testicles don’t produce enough testosterone, causing infertility, low sex drive, erectile dysfunction, fatigue or depression

When your hormones aren’t produced at the right levels, it affects the way your body functions. Men and women alike can find their hormones out of balance at any age.


Talk with your Mercy primary care provider about your symptoms. If a hormone imbalance is suspected, you may be referred to a Mercy endocrinologist.

Hormonal imbalance is caused by overproduction or the underproduction of hormones. Depending on the type of hormone, different body functions are affected, such as:


  • Insulin – controls blood sugar levels
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone – regulates thyroid hormones, which affect metabolism, weight and growth
  • Stress hormones – adrenaline elevates heart rate and blood pressure; cortisol increases blood sugar and promotes healing
  • Appetite hormones – ghrelin signals you're hungry; leptin tells your body you’re full
  • Reproductive & sexual hormones – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating and luteinizing hormones affect sex drive and fertility
  • Serotonin – regulates mood, appetite and sleep
  • Growth hormone – affects growth, cell reproduction and regeneration

Blood tests are the most common way to check hormone levels. Several types of blood tests may be used, depending on your symptoms. And a saliva test can detect certain hormones as well.


Further testing may be needed if your endocrinologist is concerned about a gland. Imaging tests like ultrasounds, X-rays or MRIs are used to diagnose gland conditions. Lumps, cysts or other abnormalities may require biopsies.