Comprehensive, Compassionate Care for Adolescent and Child Development

Hormones are a critical component to each of the stages of development. When issues arise that impact the release of needed hormones, teenagers can face issues with growth, metabolism, puberty and overall well-being during some of their most vulnerable years.

At University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s, our expert endocrinologists draws from deep experience treating adolescent hormonal issues and understands the unique physical and emotional challenges that can surface. Families can depend on our multidisciplinary pediatric endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism team to treat the whole patient. Our comprehensive approach includes nurses, dieticians, social workers and others who walk alongside families in a caring, supportive way.

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition for females and is caused by a hormone deficiency in the ovaries. For young women, PCOS keeps an adolescent from ovulating. This condition can lead to the development of cysts in the ovaries that release their own hormones called androgens – a type of male hormone.

While women produce androgens in small amounts, higher than normal levels can result in menstrual cycle issues and other symptoms. If not treated, polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms can include weight gain, hair growth and acne as well as other serious health issues.

Our team of endocrinology specialists understand the complexities and sensitive nature of PCOS. We work collaboratively with patients and families to determine the best course of action for PCOS treatment. Following a medical exam that determines the overall health of a female’s reproductive organs, patients receive an individualized polycystic ovary syndrome treatment plan based on specific considerations regarding age, severity of PCOS symptoms and pregnancy considerations.

If a patient is planning to become pregnant, polycystic ovary syndrome treatment may include a change in diet and activity or medication that will help with ovulation. For patients where pregnancy is not a consideration, care plans may include a change in diet and activity, birth control pills, diabetic medications that lower insulin or other medications.

Expert Gynecomastia Treatment

Gynecomastia is a condition associated with enlarged breasts in males. A fairly common condition for adolescent males going through puberty, this condition is caused by a deficient amount of the testosterone hormone or an increase in the female hormone estrogen.

Gynecomastia will often correct itself in less than two years. While gynecomastia symptoms typically include breast tenderness, some patients may experience increased swelling, pain or nipple discharge. In these cases, it’s important to seek our expert help.

UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s multidisciplinary team of endocrinology specialists are uniquely positioned to help adolescents and families identify and navigate the best approach to gynecomastia treatment and prevention. Our team understands that even when physical symptoms of gynecomastia are minimal, emotional issues may surface related to appearance.

In some cases, a medication for another condition may play a role in gynecomastia including:

  • Anti-anxiety drugs and anti-depressants
  • Antibiotics
  • Cancer treatments
  • Certain steroids
  • Heart medications
  • Medications to treat AIDs
  • Medications to treat gastric conditions 
  • Medications used to treat prostate conditions

If one of these medications is contributing to this condition’s symptoms, our gynecomastia doctors will work together to discontinue use of certain medications or find a healthy replacement.

Street drugs and alcohol can also be gynecomastia causes as can certain health conditions that create hormonal imbalances. Some of these include:

  • Conditions that interfere with normal testosterone production
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Kidney and liver failure
  • Malnutrition 
  • Normal aging
  • Tumors

If symptoms do not improve over time, our team may consider other medications or gynecomastia surgery to remove excess breast tissue such as liposuction or a mastectomy.

Early or Delayed Puberty Concerns

The onset of puberty is considered normal if it begins at age eight or later in girls or age nine or later in boys. Sometimes, these developments begin too soon, and a child is diagnosed with precocious puberty.

While the causes of early puberty can sometimes be attributed to certain conditions such as infections, tumors, hormone imbalance and brain abnormalities, physicians are often unable to identify the specific source of the condition. Symptoms of early puberty will follow the typical progression of puberty in girls and boys, although this condition can result in stunted growth or social and emotional issues.

Parents can trust the expert endocrinology specialists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s to determine the best course of treatment. In some cases, a monthly injection of hormone modifying therapy, called Gn-RH analogue therapy, can help delay further development until a child reaches normal age. If precocious puberty is related to another underlying condition, our team will make recommendations for addressing those issues to improve the outlook.

In contrast, a delayed puberty is present when an adolescent female has not experienced breast development by age 13 or menstrual period by age 16. In the case of males, this condition exists when testicles have not developed by age 14.

While delayed puberty can be normal in some adolescents, sometimes a medical problem exists that needs to be addressed. Our multidisciplinary pediatric specialist team can help and determine the best path forward for your child’s specific condition. Chances are that no treatment is needed. In cases where there is an underlying condition, our pediatric endocrinologists may prescribe a hormone therapy to jump-start the process.

Family-Centered Care Approach Addresses Concerns

Adolescent hormonal issues can leave patients and families with a lot of questions and uncertainty. We are here to help you find the best path to a positive outlook and healthy life. Patients and families can have confidence that they are receiving a comprehensive approach to treatment that takes their specific concerns into consideration. Plus, you can expect 24/7 access to our team of endocrinology specialists as part of our commitment to you.

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