It could be your hormones

It could be your hormones

Hormones are not just about sex drives and physical growth. They play a very important role in your overall wellbeing.

It is very important to maintain a healthy balance of hormones in your body. An imbalance of hormone levels can affect your state of health leading to hormone-related diseases.  Read on and discover medical conditions that are linked to hormones.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Hormonal link: Women diagnosed with PCOS produce slightly higher amounts of androgen which are male hormones.

What is it?

PCOS is the most common hormonal disorder among women who are of reproductive age. It is also one of the most common causes of infertility among women.

PCOS is a condition whereby clusters of cysts, which look like a pearl necklace, appear in a woman’s ovaries. These cysts are filled with eggs (ovum) that have not matured. PCOS appears to run in families and if you have immediate family members who have been diagnosed with this condition, it increases your likelihood of being having it too.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of this condition include irregular menstrual cycles, thinning hair, unwanted facial hair growth, weight issues (especially weight gain around the waist area) and skin issues such as acne.

How can PCOS be treated?

Treatment options vary according to the symptoms that you experience. Generally, it consists of hormonal pills, acne treatments, androgen-blocking medications and hair loss treatments. Weight loss and exercise play an important role when it comes to the management of PCOS symptoms.

Hypogonadism

Hormonal link: Associated with low testosterone levels and androgen deficiency.

What is it?

Male hypogonadism is the underproduction of sperm and/or testosterone in the testes. There are two possible causes of hypogonadism — it could be an issue with the testes or the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small organ (about the size of a pea) that is at the base of the brain. This gland is responsible for producing hormones including luteinizing hormones that promote the production of testosterone. A blood test will show if you are experiencing hypogonadism.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include incomplete sexual development, low libido, small testes, infertility and breast enlargement or discomfort.

How can male hypogonadism be treated?

Treatment of male hypogonadism is testosterone replacement therapy. This is recommended especially for men who are constantly experiencing low testosterone and androgen levels. This treatment option can be administered in several ways including injections, patches, pills and pellets that are implanted under the skin. However, if you have a history of or you are suspected of having prostate cancer, testosterone replacement therapy will not be suitable for you.

Osteoporosis

The hormonal link: The loss of estrogen in the body, especially during menopause can lead to osteoporosis. One of the roles of estrogen is to protect the bones. Low levels of testosterone can contribute to bone loss too. An imbalance of thyroid hormones can also affect your bone density.

What is it?

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones are structurally weak and porous. This then increases a person’s risk of having fractured or broken bones. Osteoporosis is often known as the ‘silent disease’. This is because it usually occurs and progresses without any symptoms. Ageing is a risk factor of osteoporosis as the level of hormones in your body are affected by advancing age and this could have an effect on your bone health.

What are the symptoms?

There are not many symptoms of osteoporosis. An early warning sign of this condition is a bone fracture. Other signs of osteoporosis include a stooped posture and backache.

How can osteoporosis be treated?

The ideal treatment option for osteoporosis is to consume a sufficient amount of calcium and vitamin D daily. Generally, adults over the age of 50 are required to consume 1,200 miligrammes of calcium daily. The recommended intake of vitamin D on the other hand is 800 to 1,000 International Units (IU) daily. The good news is, natural sunlight is a great source of vitamin D. Hence, besides ensuring that you enjoy a healthy calcium intake, be sure to head outdoors for some vitamin D too. Exercising also helps to protect your bones.

Diabetes

The hormonal link: The lack of insulin hormones in your body can affect your blood sugar level.

What is it?

Diabetes is a condition which is affecting millions of people, worldwide. Diabetes occurs when there is an issue with the natural production of insulin in the body. Insulin is responsible for breaking down glucose in your bloodstream which then allowing your body to absorb it and use it as energy. However, when your body does not produce a sufficient amount of insulin, it will result in high levels of sugar in your blood. Diabetes is divided into two categories — Diabetes Mellitus Type 1 and Type 2. The former occurs when the body stops producing insulin and the latter is diagnosed when the body doesn’t produce sufficient amounts of insulin or is not using insulin effectively. Type 2 is very much associated with lifestyle risk factors such as obesity and food intake that is high in sugar.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms of diabetes includes the frequent need to urinate, excessive thirst, constant hunger, weight loss, tingling hands and feet as well as wounds that are healing slower than usual.

How can diabetes be treated?

Diabetes can be treated with medication and lifestyle adjustments such as adopting a healthier lifestyle and diet. However, it is best to prevent diabetes as there is no cure for this condition. Prevention includes leading an active lifestyle and cutting down on food portions.

There are many ways that an imbalanced level of hormones can affect your health. Hence, the best way to prevent these conditions is to exercise, consume healthy meals and to maintain a healthy weight.

Hormones and cancer: Is there a link?

There is a link between hormones and certain types of cancer. Namely, breast cancer, endometrium cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer testis cancer, thyroid cancer and osteosarcoma (a type of cancer which starts in the bones). This is because certain types of hormones in the human body can cause cell proliferation. Cell proliferation is the process where cells duplicate and increase in number. When this occurs, not all cells may be of the same state and quality. Hence, this can lead to random genetic errors in the cells and an increase in a person’s risk of cancer.

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