Skip to content
f381014a-e0bc-47f3-9234-8bfe544c5cda
f381014a-e0bc-47f3-9234-8bfe544c5cda
Menu
happy-healthy-woman

ENDOCRINE HEALTH

happy-healthy-woman

ENDOCRINE HEALTH

The following information is to be used as a guide to and at the discretion of the end-user and should not replace a doctor’s opinion.

OVERVIEW

Your endocrine system consists of the tissues (mainly glands) that create and release hormones.

Hormones are chemicals that coordinate different functions in your body by carrying messages through your blood to your organs, skin, muscles and other tissues. These signals tell your body what to do and when to do it.

Hormone disorders are the result of a hormonal imbalance, meaning you have too much or too little of one or more hormones. Hormones are essential for life and your health.

FUNCTION OF THE ENDOCRINE SYSTEM

The main function of your endocrine system is to release hormones into your blood while continuously monitoring the levels. You have more than 50 different hormones, and they affect nearly all aspects of your health — directly or indirectly.

Some of the functions your hormones affect include:

  • Metabolism
  • Homeostasis (constant internal balance), such as blood pressure and blood sugar regulation, fluid (water) and electrolyte balance and body temperature
  • Growth and development
  • Sexual function
  • Reproduction
  • Sleep-wake cycle
  • Mood

HORMONE DISORDERS

The cause of a hormone disorder will depend on which disorder it is. Typically, the main reason is an imbalance that affects either the reproductive system or the thyroid.

Some common hormones that can play a role in female hormone disorders are:

  • Insulin
  • Androgen and other steroid-type hormones
  • Thyroid hormone
  • Oestrogen
  • Progesterone
  • Testerone
  • Cortisol

COMMON HORMONE-RELATED HEALTH ISSUES FOR WOMEN

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): This is the most common of the female hormone disorders. It causes irregular periods, ovarian cysts, weight gain, and fertility problems. PCOS affects about 1 in 10 women of reproductive age.
  • Thyroid disease: This includes hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) and hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone). Women are more than 5 times more likely than men to have a thyroid disorder. Thyroid disease can lead to various symptoms like weight changes, fatigue and mood disturbances.
  • Hormonal acne (adult acne): Hormonal acne develops when hormonal changes increase the amount of oil your skin produces. This is especially common during pregnancy, menopause and for people who are taking testosterone therapy.
  • Hirsutism: This hormone disorder triggers the growth of excess hair, especially in places where women do not usually have much hair.

More

RISK FACTORS FOR HORMONAL IMBALANCE

  • Genetics: Some hormone disorders are related to gene mutations that run in families. Diabetes and PCOS are two hormone-related diseases that may be related to genetics.
  • Age: A woman’s hormone levels change throughout her life. Oestrogen levels, for instance, decrease as a woman approaches menopause.
  • Ethnicity: Depending on the specific disorder, women of some ethnic backgrounds may be at higher risk. For example, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and South Asian women are at higher risk for hirsutism.
  • Medications: Some medications, including steroids, influence hormone production and secretion.
  • Weight: Women who are obese can be at a higher risk for hormone disorders.

More

HOW CAN I PREVENT HORMONE IMBALANCE?

When it comes to female hormone disorders, there are some factors you can control and some you can’t. As with any aspect of your health, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle that includes a diet of fresh, whole foods and plenty of exercise. This can keep insulin levels and other hormones in balance, and it will help you maintain a healthy weight.

More

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A HORMONAL IMBALANCE?

Hormones are complex and powerful chemicals. An imbalance in any one of them can cause symptoms that make you feel like you’re not in control of your body. If you have new and persistent symptoms, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider. The sooner you reach out for help and treatment, the sooner you’ll be able to feel like yourself again.

Common signs of hormone conditions include:

  • weight gain
  • hump of fat between the shoulders
  • unexplained and sometimes sudden weight loss
  • fatigue
  • muscle weakness
  • muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
  • pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints
  • increased or decreased heart rate
  • sweating
  • increased sensitivity to cold or heat
  • constipation or more frequent bowel movements
  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst
  • increased hunger
  • decreased sex drive
  • depression
  • nervousness, anxiety, or irritability
  • blurred vision
  • infertility
  • thinning hair or fine, brittle hair
  • dry skin
  • puffy or rounded face
  • purple or pink stretch marks

Some of these symptoms may also reflect other chronic conditions. If you have any, speak with your healthcare provider.

TREATMENT FOR HORMONAL IMBALANCES

Healthcare providers typically order blood tests to check hormone levels since your endocrine glands release hormones directly into your bloodstream. Your treatment and prevention options depend on the type of hormone disorder, the severity of the disorder, and your medical history, age, and reproductive goals.

Treatment for hormone disorders may include:

  • Medication: Some medicines help control symptoms, and hormone replacement therapy restores hormone levels.
  • Lifestyle changes: Losing weight, increasing physical activity, and improving your diet can ease the symptoms of many hormone disorders.
  • Fertility treatment: Fertility specialists help women explore their reproductive options, including in vitro fertilization (IVF).
  • Surgery: If a hormone disorder is related to a tumour, doctors may surgically remove the tumour.

FURTHER READING