Do You Know Your Sex Hormone Status?
Do You Know Your Sex Hormone Status?
Sex hormones are responsible for the development of primary and secondary sexual characteristics, control of puberty, production of eggs and sperms, pregnancy, lactation, and child birth. There are three types of sex hormones, namely: the female sex hormone known as estrogen; progesterone which is responsible for preparing the body for pregnancy and maintaining pregnancy; and the male sex hormones or the androgen hormones. Sex hormone tests are typically advised to evaluate the status of the sex hormones.
Maintenance of healthy sex hormone levels is useful in preventing early onset of age-dependent health risks such as strokes, coronary heart diseases, bone fractures, and osteoporosis.
Sex Hormone Tests
The commonly advised sex hormone tests are listed below:
Estrogen tests are conducted for the evaluation of the menopausal status. This test also helps in diagnosing ovarian tumors. Another key purpose of the estrogen test is to investigate infertility and menstrual problems. The estrogen test is also useful for monitoring the health of the fetus in pregnant women. At times, this test is also advised to evaluate the sexual maturity of a female. Normal estrogen levels in females range between 24-149 picograms/ml of blood whereas in men the normal estrogen levels range between 12-34 picograms/ml of blood. Decreased levels of estrogen can lead to a failed pregnancy, menopause, anorexia nervosa, turner’s syndrome, and primary and secondary hypogonadism. During pregnancy, higher levels of estrogen can lead to cirrhosis and elevated thyroid levels.
Progesterone levels are useful for confirming ovulation and evaluating the functioning of the ovaries while investigating issues related to infertility. In high-risk pregnancy cases, placental growth is monitored by evaluating the progesterone levels. In menstruating women, normal progesterone levels are less than 150 nanograms/deciliter of blood whereas in pregnant women, progesterone levels range between 1500-20000 nanograms/deciliter of blood. Increased levels of progesterone are observed during pregnancy, ovulation, and presence of ovarian cysts. Decreased levels of progesterone can lead to abortion, placental failure, and ovarian dysfunction.
Testosterone levels are tested for evaluating sexual dysfunction or infertility in men. This test also helps to isolate the cause of hypogonadism wherein the levels of testosterone secreted are way below normal. Normal testosterone levels in men range between 300-1200 nanograms/deciliter of blood, whereas in women it ranges between 30-95 nanograms/deciliter of blood. Decreased levels of testosterone can lead to Klinefelter syndrome, chromosomal deficiency, down syndrome, and cirrhosis. Increased levels of testosterone in females is an indication of ovarian and adrenal tumors and hirsutism.
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin ( SHBG)
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) is a protein that is primarily synthesized by the liver. This protein interacts with testosterone and estrogen and plays an important role in maintaining an overall hormonal balance. SHBG is also produced by the uterus, testes, placenta, and the brain. SHBG plays the critical role of a transporter and is responsible for shuttling testosterone and estrogen to the sex hormone receptors in our body. SHBG also plays a vital role in preventing these important sex hormones from degrading very rapidly. Higher SHBG levels can lead to testosterone deficiency leading to gynecomastia, poor sexual performance, diminished libido, and chronic fatigue. Low SHBG levels can lead to conditions associated with metabolic syndrome such as obesity, lipid abnormalities, insulin resistance, and chronic high blood pressure.
“Testosterone, sex hormone-binding globulin, and the development of type 2 diabetes in middle-aged men: prospective results from the Massachusetts male aging study” by R. K. Stellato, et al. Published in April 2000 , Volume 23, of Diabetes Care, accessed on 7 May 2015. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.2337/diacare.23.4.490