What is Endocrinology?

By: Florida Medical Clinic | On: April 28, 2016

Hormones regulate moods, emotions, bodily functions and more. You may not notice that hormones are doing their job properly when they are in balance. However, when hormones are out of balance, they can affect many aspects of daily life. A trip to an endocrinologist may be necessary if you are experiencing any of the symptoms or conditions described below.

Understanding Endocrinology

Endocrinology is the branch of medicine that researches, studies, diagnoses and treats problems with endocrine glands. Endocrine glands are located throughout the body and make up what is known as the endocrine system. These glands produce hormones and send them throughout the body to perform specific tasks.

The endocrine system controls many bodily functions, including:

  • Growth
  • Metabolism
  • Movement
  • Reproduction
  • Respiration
  • Sensory perception
  • Sexual development

Hormone levels change naturally throughout life as the body matures and ages, but sometimes problems can arise. Certain diseases and conditions can develop when glands in the endocrine system produce too many or too few hormones. A hormonal imbalance is usually caused by one or more glands in the endocrine system. Endocrinologists are medical specialists who diagnose and treat hormone imbalances in patients. An endocrinologist’s goal is to restore the body back to normal hormone levels.

Endocrinologists treat conditions such as:

  • Cancers of the endocrine glands
  • Cholesterol disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Infertility
  • Menopause
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Osteoporosis
  • Over or under-production of hormones
  • Thyroid disease

What is Reproductive Endocrinology?

In the United States, 15% of couples experience infertility – the inability to conceive a child after at least one year of unprotected intercourse. Reproductive endocrinology is a sub-specialty that focuses on treating infertility in men and women. Many of the hormones involved in reproductive endocrinology are produced directly by the body’s reproductive organs.

A reproductive endocrinologist identifies factors that play a part in infertility, which can be physical, hormonal, or a combination of the two. They will then determine the best way to treat those factors.

Endocrinology and Metabolism

The endocrine system is closely linked to the metabolism. A problem with the metabolic system has the potential to cause several problems. Diabetes is the most common endocrine disease.

Potential metabolic conditions include:

  • Diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Complications with diabetes
  • Body weight fluctuations or abnormalities
  • Osteoporosis
  • Metabolic bone disease
  • Thyroid diseases and cancer
  • Pituitary gland problems
  • Adrenal gland problems
  • Lipid disorders

When to Visit an Endocrinologist

A problem with the endocrine system can cause many different conditions. As a result, the signs and symptoms of these conditions manifest in many ways. Your primary care physician should be your first resource when you aren’t feeling quite right. A primary care doctor is experienced with many of the diseases and conditions that affect the body, and can identify when you need to see a specialist. Your primary care physician will refer you to an endocrinologist for conditions related to your endocrine glands.

As a specialist, an endocrinologist is familiar with all the latest treatment options available. They are also more knowledgeable about complications or non-traditional conditions which can affect a standard diagnosis or treatment.