Penn Fertility Care

Endocrinology Services

Conditions Treated

Penn Fertility Care treats the following glandular conditions that may commonly alter normal reproductive function:

Elevated levels of androgens

The adrenal gland produces male hormones which, when found in excess, may lead to fertility problems in both men and women. Elevated levels of androgens may be found in women with polycystic ovaries, or women with a tumor in the pituitary gland, adrenal gland, or ovary.

Hypogonadotropic hypogonadism

The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that regulates hormones. In both men and women, this tissue secretes gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRH) every ninety minutes or so. These hormones tell the female ovaries and male testes to secrete hormones that are responsible for normal sexual development in puberty. A disruption in this chain of events can cause hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, which is absent or decreased function of the male testes or the female ovaries.

Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism

The thyroid gland, the endocrine gland in the front of the neck, produces thyroid hormones to regulate the body's metabolism. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can cause menstrual disturbances and fertility problems.

  • Hyperthyroidism: Occurs when the thyroid gland produces too much hormone. The resulting increased metabolism "burns up" estrogen too rapidly and interferes with ovulation.
  • Hypothyroidism: Occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormone. The resulting lowered metabolism interferes with the normal breakdown of "old" hormones and causes lethargy. Men will suffer from a lower sex drive and women will suffer from elevated prolactin and estrogen, both of which can interfere with fertility.

A condition such as amenorrhea, when a woman does not get her period, can be caused by the dysfunction of various endocrine organs. For example, a woman with low body fat may not have regular periods due to the gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) failing to release (a pulsating release) in her body. This can cause periods to stop. Pituitary tumors which raise prolactin levels or certain medications which raise prolactin levels can also cause amenorrhea. In addition, an aging ovary may cause amenorrhea.

There are procedures available to help many endocrine–related conditions. Penn Fertility Care can evaluate thyroid functions with modern blood analysis, evaluate hypothalamic pituitary function with the newest radiologic procedures such as MRI, and evaluate ovarian function with estrogen and gonadtropin levels.