Hyperandrogenism

Hyperandrogenism is a hormonal disorder in women characterized by abnormal production of male hormones, which may cause infertility and changes in physical appearance.

The sex hormones determine the physical appearance and sexual development of an individual. Apart from the female sex hormones, i.e. estrogen and progesterone, ovaries also produce minimal amounts of androgen. Any abnormalities that cause an increased production of androgen when compared to the female hormones may induce hyperandrogenism.

Causes

Hyperandrogenism may be secondary to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and diabetes mellitus. In the polycystic ovarian syndrome the cysts, present in the ovaries, may induce excessive production of androgen hormone that may lead to hyperandrogenism. In the case of diabetes mellitus, a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism, excessive androgen secretion may be triggered by high levels of insulin in the blood stream. In rare cases, any ovarian tumour may also increase androgen secretion and lead to hyperandrogenism. The presence of congenital adrenal hyperplasia also may induce hyperandrogenism.

Symptoms

Patients with hyperandrogenism may experience infertility, hirsutism (excessive growth of hair in the face, chest or abdomen and pelvic areas), enlargement of muscles, deepening of voice, acne over the face and back or thinning of the hair. Patients may also experience abnormal or irregular menstrual period, reduction of breast size and enlargement of the clitoris.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of the condition includes a detailed medical history and a careful physical examination of the patient, to evaluate the signs and symptoms. Laboratory examination such as blood sampling may help to evaluate the hormonal levels. Other advance imaging techniques such as MRI, CT scan or ultrasound imaging may also be used to detect the presence of ovarian tumour or polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Treatment

The treatment of this condition includes the treatment of the underlying cause such as PCOS or ovarian tumour. A healthy diet comprising of antioxidant rich foods such as fruit and vegetables may help in recovery.

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