Late-night comedians make a living joking about women's hormones. Women have more hormonal fluctuations than men because of their reproductive cycles, and this feeds into stereotypes about women that some people find amusing. However, hormonal deficits or over-supply because of pituitary imbalance is no laughing matter. Women with the condition known as hypopituitarism can testify to the discomfort and damage resulting from not having a specific hormone, or too little of that hormone, in their systems.
What Is the Pituitary Gland?
The pituitary gland, a small pea-sized gland at the base of the skull, is sometimes called the master gland, because it controls the hormone output of many other glands. It signals other glands to produce hormones that control reproductive functions, growth, blood pressure, an individual's metabolism and other hormone body functions.
Symptoms of Pituitary Imbalance
When the pituitary gland is out of balance, the female body does not produce the hormones it needs to function properly. Women with a pituitary imbalance can experience symptoms such as:
- Problems with menstruation
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sleep disorders
- High blood pressure
- Increased body hair
- Excess sweating
- Weight gain or loss
These symptoms could suggest a tumor on the pituitary gland. Other causes of pituitary imbalance symptoms include chemotherapy, medications, brain injury, diseases such as meningitis, and radiation. In some cases, the cause cannot be determined. The bottom line is that the symptoms are related to the gland affected by the pituitary imbalance. For example, a deficiency in follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or luteinizing hormone (LH) could cause sexual dysfunction, infertility and menstrual problems.
Consequences of Pituitary Imbalance
The most common consequences of pituitary imbalance include:
- Cortisol deficiency when the adrenal gland produces the wrong amount of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
- Thyroid problems from a lack of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
- Prolactin deficiency that affects breast milk production and breast growth
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) deficiencies that affect levels of estrogen and progesterone in women
- Incorrect amounts of growth hormone (GH) that stimulates growth of bones and tissues
- Deficiency of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) that controls water loss by the kidneys
- Oxytocin deficiency that hinders labor in childbirth and makes nursing more difficult
Treatment of Pituitary Imbalance in Women
Women often receive estrogen and progesterone to combat deficiencies in FSH and LH to restore sexual and reproductive function. Other common treatments include:
- Steroids to treat ACTH deficiency
- Thyroid hormone replacement
- Surgery if a tumor is involved
- Oxytocin during labor
Some practitioners also prescribe pituitary gland extract.
Pituitary Imbalance Can Be Treated. Find Out How.
Pituitary imbalance is not normal, and it is treatable. To learn more, talk to one of the pituitary imbalance specialists at Balance Hormone Center at 480-718-9960 or request an appointment online.