OHSU

Sex Hormone Deficiency

Your pituitary gland makes hormones that tell the testicles (in men) and ovaries (in women) to produce sex hormones (chemicals that control sex drive and ability to reproduce). The pituitary gland hormones are called luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

In men, LH and FSH signal the testicles to produce testosterone (male hormone) and mature sperm that can fertilize an egg. In women, LH and FSH signal the ovaries to make estrogen and progesterone (female hormones) and produce eggs. They also signal a woman's body to menstruate (have a period).

If your pituitary gland does not signal the testicles or ovaries to produce enough LH and FSH, you have LH and FSH deficiencies (lack). This causes low levels of estrogen in women and low levels of testosterone in men. If you are a man, you might notice:

  • Less interest in sex, less ability to get an erection
  • Less pubic hair (hair around the penis and testicles)
  • Smaller testicles
  • Less energy
  • Smaller, weaker muscles
  • Sensitive or painful breasts, hot flashes and night sweats

If you are a woman, you might notice:

  • Changes in your menstrual cycle
  • Infertility (difficulty getting pregnant)
  • Less interest in sex
  • Hot flashes  

Both men and women can also have lower bone density (normal bone growth), but probably will not know until a doctor diagnoses it.

The treatment for sex hormone deficiency is medication. This can be a pill you take by mouth or a patch, cream or gel you put on your skin. Your doctor will do a complete physical examination and talk with you about your medical history before prescribing hormone medication, because it can make certain conditions worse or raise your risk. Tell your doctor about any medical problems or conditions you have had, including prostate cancer, enlarged prostate, sleep apnea (stopping breathing when you sleep) or congestive heart failure.