When they hear about hormones, most people think of sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone. However, the body has nearly 50 hormones, and most of them have nothing directly to do with sexual function or characteristics. Hormones are substances that are secreted into the bloodstream by an organ. Insulin, produced by the pancreas, is a hormone. It helps blood sugar enter cells. It’s needed there for energy. Thyroxine, secreted by the thyroid gland, is another hormone. It’s vital to proper metabolism. When the thyroid malfunctions, it can also cause infertility problems in both sexes.
Pituitary Gland Hormones
The pituitary gland, located in the brain, releases many hormones:
ACTH stands for adrenocorticotropic hormone. It tells the adrenal glands, which sit atop the kidneys, to release cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is involved in tissue repair and regulation of blood sugar, especially in the brain. TSH refers to thyroid-stimulating hormone. It tells the thyroid when and how much thyroxine to release. Thyroxine regulates the body’s metabolic functions and is involved in the menstrual cycle. It also influences normal development of male sperm.
LH is also known as luteinizing hormone. It controls sexual functioning in both sexes. In women, it tells the ovaries to produce estrogen and progesterone, the primary female sex hormones. In men, it directs the testes to make testosterone and sperm. Another pituitary hormone, FSH, or follicle-stimulating hormone, is involved with the development and release of eggs in the female ovary.
Prolactin is the hormone involved in lactation, or breast feeding, in females. It does have other functions in both sexes. A pituitary tumor, called a prolactinoma, can result in a disruption of prolactin production. Symptoms like vaginal dryness, milky breast discharge and excessive hair growth can occur in women. In men, possible symptoms include erectile dysfunction and decreased facial and body hair. This kind of tumor is generally benign and can be treated with medication, surgery and radiation.
Another type of pituitary disorder is called pituitary apoplexy. This is also usually caused by an adenoma, or tumor. It can cause the pituitary to swell and bleed, causing severe headache and visual problems. Often, the gland no longer secretes the hormone cortisol, which is necessary for life. It’s usually treated with cortisone supplements, such as hydrocortisone and prednisone. If the condition is more severe, surgery is necessary to correct it.
Human Growth Hormone
GH stands for growth hormone. Everyone has probably heard about this one. It stimulates and controls normal growth in children. Adults have it, too, but in much lower levels that tend to steadily decline after the age of about 30. Some adults seek replacement therapy with GH, too. Although GH will not cause an adult who has completed their growth to get taller or bigger, GH still has vital functions:
- Involved in the maintenance of healthy tissue
- May accelerate the healing process
- Increases muscle mass
- Bolsters metabolism
- Is involved in the burning of fat and also bodily fat distribution
- May influence quality and appearance of skin
Physicians determine if you have a normal hormonal balance through a combination of physical exam, taking your medical history, evaluating symptoms and ordering specific hormonal blood tests. However, there is no such thing as a single normal hormone level for everyone. These hormonal test results are always expressed as a range. Most people with adequate hormone levels and function will fall within a range that is reported as low normal to high normal. Anything out of this range is suspect and may be causing or contributing to certain symptoms of a hormonal problem.
Many hormonal problems are rather easily corrected by a special kind of doctor called an endocrinologist. This is a medical doctor who has completed additional years of training in the function of the body’s glands and hormones. A suspected problem with the endocrine system is best evaluated by this kind of physician. They have the training to understand and treat the delicate interplay between glands and their hormones.
A hormone test can reveal important things about your hormones and your health. Here at Vital Force, our trained and experienced physicians and staff will evaluate your overall health and recommend a treatment plan tailored just for you. We offer hormone replacement therapy, stem cell therapy, vitamin therapy and other types of IV therapy. Call us at (205) 352-9141. We warmly welcome new patients, and we look forward to speaking with you.