Hormone problems – Preventive Medicine

by Roger

Hormones are the chemical messengers produced by the body’s endocrine glands. These include the pancreas, pituitary, thyroid, and adrenal glands. Men produce sex hormones in the testes and women in the ovaries. An imbalance in the proper level of hormones required by the body can lead to medical problems. These may be treated with preventive medicine.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

In women, an imbalance between the hormones progesterone and oestrogen can lead to problems such as acne, hirsutism and polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS. It is thought that it may be caused by resistance to the hormone insulin. High levels of insulin cause the ovaries to produce too much testosterone, thus preventing ovulation. Excess insulin may also cause weight gain, which, in turn, causes further excess insulin production. NHS Choices advises that maintaining a healthy weight should improve symptoms while a contraceptive pill may be prescribed to induce regular periods. Women with PCOS who are having trouble becoming pregnant may be treated with drugs such as clomifene and metformin.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone imbalance also occurs during the lowering of oestrogen and progesterone levels experienced by women before and during the menopause. While the menopause is a life-stage rather than an illness, some menopausal women experience troublesome symptoms such as night sweats, mood swings and hot flushes. These symptoms are widely treated with hormone replacement therapy or HRT. The aim of systemic treatment is to restore normal levels of the hormones so that the body can function normally. The medication can be in the form of tablets, patches, implants or gels and is usually taken until the menopause is completed.