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Sex Hormone Disorders

Hormones are substances that are produced by the body’s endocrine glands which send messages throughout the system. Hormones affect nearly every function in the human body including libido (sex drive) and sexual function. The menstrual cycle, pregnancy and lactation are also regulated by hormones. If hormones that control sexual function and production over or under produce a sexual disorder may occur. Female sexual hormones include:

  • Estrogen
  • Progesterone
  • Prolactin
  • LH (Luteinizing hormone)
  • FSH (Follicle stimulating hormone)

Sexual hormone disorders are far more common in women and occur twice as often as they do in men. Premenopausal and menopausal women are especially susceptible to disorders because of the fluctuating state of their hormones. Although transitions such as menopause and pregnancy are the main reasons women suffer from sexual hormone disorders there are others such as:

  • Low body fat (under 8%)
  • Ovarian cysts and tumors
  • Hormone supplements (estrogen/progesterone)
  • Hereditary disorders
  • Chronic health problems
  • Thyroid problems (hypo/hyper thyroidism)
  • Dietary supplements
  • Obesity

The most common hormonal disorders are menstrual problems and infertility. Menstrual problems such as irregular periods and heavy periods affect nearly 30% of women according to published reports. Many of these problems can be mitigated through a regimen of proper nutrition, exercise and medication.

Females who work out excessively have an increased risk of hormonal imbalances effecting their menstrual cycle. This disorder is referred to as exercise induced amenorrhea which is a result of intense exercise affecting the body’s ability to produce and regulate estrogen and progesterone.

Symptoms of Sexual Hormone Disorders

There are a wide range of symptoms of sexual hormone disorders such as vaginal dryness, low libido, irregular periods, acne, enlarged clitoris, excessive body hair, and difficulty getting pregnant. Women who experience these symptoms over an extended period of time should see their health care provider. Many times these symptoms are misdiagnosed as premenopausal because of their similarities.

Treatment options range from adjustments to diet and exercise to hormone therapy. Most often physicians will start with the least evasive treatment option before moving on to more invasive methods.

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