What is an endocrine disorder?
The endocrine system is responsible for regulating the hormones within the body, thus disorders of the endocrine system may cause hormone imbalances that affect the reproductive system such as menstrual irregularities, premenstrual syndrome issues, infertility, delayed puberty and hirsutism.
The following disorders are endocrine related disorders that affect the reproductive system:
- Amenorrhea – this condition causes absent, abnormal or irregular menstrual periods due to hormone imbalances caused by obesity, excessive exercise or low body fat percentages.
- Polycystosis – otherwise known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), is a condition in which a hormone imbalance causes ovarian cysts, changes in menstruation and skin problems.
- Hirsuitism – this condition causes excessive hair growth for women in areas where hair would not normally grow due to disorders of the endocrine system.
- Turner syndrome – although rare, this endocrine disorder stunts growth and puberty of females.
- Premature ovarian failure – or ovarian hypofunction, results in decreased production of hormones causing problems with the functioning of the ovaries.
What are the symptoms?
Women who suffer from an endocrine disorder may have one or more of the following signs:
STDs and STIs may be caused by bacteria, parasites or viruses, and are spread by genital contact during sexual activities. Dr Makhubo encourages young women to prevent STDs and STIs by educating young women and adolescents on safe sex and contraceptives that protect women from contracting STDs and STIs – especially life threatening conditions such as HIV and AIDS. If you believe you may have any of the above mentioned symptoms, it is essential to book an appointment with your gynaecologist to treat and manage a possible infection or disease.
- Growth delay
- Short in stature
- Delayed puberty
- Irregular or absent menstrual periods
- Excessive hairiness
- Infertility issues
- Early onset of menopause
What are the causes?
The causes of these disorder will differ depending on the condition, however some factors are known to lead to the development of a hormone condition such as:
- Thyroid disorders caused by absence of glands or removal of glands
- Genetic endocrine disorders
- Tumors of the pituitary gland
How can they be diagnosed?
By discussing your symptoms and medical history during a gynaecological consultation, Dr Makhubo will use a blood test to test the hormone levels in your body to determine if a particular hormone is absent or too low, and may be causing the symptoms you are experiencing. Once diagnosed, she will be able to advise you on possible treatment options.
What are the treatment options?
The treatment you receive will largely depend on the type of the endocrine disorder you are suffering from. In severe cases, surgery may be considered to treat the underlying cause of the condition such as a tumour or nodule. Once removed, your hormones should be able to stabilise naturally. Hormonal supplements may also be given to treat your disorder by fixing the imbalance of hormones and reduce the symptoms being experienced. Treatment may however, be more complicated as increasing the levels of one hormone may throw off another and cause the body to produce more of that hormone as a response. For this reason, depending on the diagnosis Dr Makhubo may refer you to an endocrinology specialist to treat the particular condition.