Hormone Imbalance

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Hormones can be proteins, polypeptides, amino acids, or steroids. The most well known hormones are the sex steroids estrogen, produced in the ovaries, and testosterone, produced in the testes. Estrogen and testosterone are also produced in the adrenal glands of both sexes. Other hormones include thyroxin, produced in the thyroid, and insulin, produced in the pancreas. The pituitary and hypothalamus in the brain release a variety of hormones that affect other organs, including the sex glands.

How do hormones work?
From the blood, hormones interact with cells by binding to special proteins called receptors. The binding is specific, like a key in a lock. When enough binding sites are occupied, then a message is passed on to the target cell nucleus unmasking genetic information which results in physiological reactions ultimately responsible for stimulating or regulating proper metabolism, development, growth, reproduction, and behavior. For example, in women estrogen works in this way to control the menstrual cycle, and in men testosterone controls sperm production. Hormones are released into the blood in very small amounts. Their levels are controlled by the rate of release, and the rate of degradation, usually by the liver or kidneys. Timing of hormone release is often critical for normal function. This is especially true during fetal development. Precise hormone control is important, as too much or too little at the wrong time can result in dysfunction of one or several body systems.

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