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Endocrine Disease and Sexual Function

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Our endocrine system does a lot for our body. Made up of several groups of glands, it is in charge of hormone production and has great sway over our mood, growth, metabolism, development, puberty, and tissue function. Some of the more important glands include the adrenal, pituitary, and thyroid.

It is very common for women to suffer from endocrine diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and hypoglycemia. However, the issues that affect sexual functioning are often the most damaging. In this article, we’ll review some of these diseases and discuss their effects.

1) Amenorrhea – Amenorrhea is the absence of a period in a woman of normal reproductive age. It occurs when the ovaries fail to produce an egg, which is usually the body’s signal to either prepare for a pregnancy or menstruate. The primary cause lies in the dysfunction the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland.

2) Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, affects as much as 5% of women, making it one of the leading causes of infertility. It occurs as a result of an overactive androgenic (masculine) hormones, and is characterized by irregular periods, diabetes, and obesity. In this case, the excess of male hormones leads to several cysts on the ovaries.

3) Delayed Puberty – Hopefully, the discussion of this disorder will bring peace of mind to women around the world. When a woman experiences an endocrine disease, she is often robbed of the hormones that initiate puberty. This means that she may experience delayed growth of pubic hair, breasts, and sexual libido. This disorder is often attributed to other causes during adolescence, such as malnutrition or stress, so it remains undiagnosed in many women.

4) Gender Identity Disorder – Hormones are a driving factor in which gender we choose to identify with. For example, a woman’s feelings of sexual attraction help her to define herself as a “girl,” “lesbian,” “transsexual,” and so on. Therefore, women affected by endocrine diseases have great difficulty deciding their gender, in the absence of necessary hormones.

Obviously, each of these disorders come with their own treatment plans, but most of them revolve around hormone therapy. Problems resulting from endocrine disease are often very debilitating to women, because a woman’s sexuality is so closely tied to her confidence and self-esteem.

However, it can help to remember that it is NOT your fault that you are experiencing these symptoms, and they CAN be treated quite easily by medicinal means. Don't feel alone in your battle to find the answer.


Shaina Gaul is a feminist and freelance writer living in Iowa. View more of her writing at http://www.toasterbyte.com.

Add a Comment2 Comments

Your comment is appreciated Diane! I'm glad this article was of use to you. =)

December 22, 2009 - 6:24pm

Thank you for such a thorough and understandable post. The thyroid gland and its hormonal reach throughout the body is fascinating.

August 31, 2009 - 8:33am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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