The endocrine system is made up of glands that act as a control system for many bodily processes. It produces hormones that help coordinate the functioning of body organs and tissues. A hormone is a chemical substance made by an endocrine gland and carried by the bloodstream to another tissue where it exerts some effect. The amount of hormones released depends on the body’s need at a given time. Hormone levels change in response to stress, infection, and other factors. Hormones affect growth and metabolism, and can also affect a person’s ability to conceive.
Endocrine disorders may occur when there is too much, too little, or no hormone present, when the hormone made is abnormal, or the target tissue cannot use the hormone. Common examples of endocrine disorders include ovulation problems, infertility, diabetes, thyroid dysfunction and pituitary hormone dysfunction.
Symptoms of an endocrine disorder will vary based upon the affected tissue. Any unintentional change from what is normal should be mentioned to a healthcare provider. Some examples include unexplained symptoms of weight loss or gain, fatigue, darkening or thickening of the skin, increase or decrease in hairiness, change in libido or sexual functioning, changes in mood or personality and increased thirst, hunger, or urination. Treatment is available for most endocrine problems.
Treatment is based on test results as well as whether or not a patient is actively trying to conceive.