How to Take Control of Your Hormones

Scent of Stimulation
A new perfume called Eau Flirt is infused with aromas of pumpkin and lavender, which have been shown to stimulate testosterone levels in men, which increases their desire.

The Doctors put the scent to the test and send TV host Camille Anderson out on the street to get first-hand feedback on what smells attract men most.

The Love Hormone
Oxytocin is the body's natural "love hormone," which is secreted from the pituitary gland, and is generally associated with sexual arousal, bonding and maternal instinct. The Doctors discuss how giving or receiving a hug can dramatically enhance oxytocin levels in the body.

"Oxytocin can be involved in pair-bonding," OB-GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson explains. "What [research] has shown is that with orgasm, the oxytocin levels stay [elevated] for about five minutes, but with a hug, [oxytocin] can stay around for about an hour." The Doctors perform a social experiment to test the emotional effects of unexpected hugs on complete strangers.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Testosterone Talk

Several years ago, Shadi, 30, began experiencing unexplained hormonal changes, such as weight gain, acne, male-pattern hair loss and abnormal menstrual cycles. An ultrasound was performed and she was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). As a result, Shadi was prescibed a variety of hormone medications, and is concerned about the potential effects they have on her fertility.

“So many women are affected by polycystic ovarian syndrome,” Dr. Lisa explains. “And this is one of the [major] causes of infertility and menstrual irregularities.” Shadi discusses her symptoms with Dr. Lisa, who explains how PCOS affects the body.

“With polycystic ovarian syndrome, you get this irregular surge of hormones. Everything is out of balance [and] you don’t ovulate.” Dr. Lisa says. “One of the best things you can do [for fertility] is try to keep your weight in balance, because that is going to help with the insulin resistance. Sometimes, just with exercise and diet, it can restore your ovulation.”

Medications and other artificial reproductive techniques, such as in-vitro fertilization, can help women with PCOS conceive.

Ask Dr. Lisa: Hormone Help

Hormone-Replacement Therapy
Dr. Lisa explains different options for hormone-replacement therapy, and how they impact the risks for breast and ovarian cancers.

Menopause Symptoms
Dr. Lisa discusses the safety of natural treatment options for hot flashes and vaginal dryness related to menopause.

How Hormones Affect Bone Density

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Plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon explains how light-emitting earplugs are being used to combat the blues.

Beth, 45, is an avid runner who suffered a sudden stress fracture in one of her feet. Podiatrist Dr. Philip Radovic examines Beth’s x-rays and suspects an early onset of osteoporosis.

“This is a very stable area, because there are two bones on either side of the one that you fractured,” Dr. Radovic explains. “So, it sets up a red flag. Why would you get a spontaneous fracture there?”

Dr. Radovic refers Beth to endocrinologist Dr. Katja Van Herle to have her hormone levels evaluated.

“Hormones are really proteins that we make in the body,” Dr. Van Herle explains. “They’re proteins that go to different receptors – those are the locks – so the hormone is like the key [to those locks]."

Beth and Dr. Van Herle join The Doctors to discuss how atypical hormone levels can lead to bone loss and reveal the results of Beth’s hormone tests.

“Estrogen, in women, is the primary way we build bone density,” Dr. Van Herle says. “By the age of 30, we have maximal estrogen and bone density. It’s like your bone bank, [but] over time [estrogen] gets lower and lower.”

Hormone-Triggered Acne
Lisa, 24, has tried almost every acne medication available, but still suffers from chronic breakouts. Dermatologist Dr. Howard Liu explains how hormone imbalances contribute to severe acne.

"Hormones pump oil deep into the hair follicle and clogs it down low," Dr. Liu says. "So you get big, tender pimples that don't ever come to a head, and they're very frustrating."

Dr. Liu explains how hormone therapy, such as birth control pills, or a hormone blocker, such as spironolactone, can decrease the oil production and prevent acne breakouts.

"I think [Lisa] would be a great candidate for hormone therapy," Dr. Liu adds, and offers Lisa treatments for her condition.

Hormone to Fight Obesity?

Cell biologists at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have discovered a new hormone called irisin, which is produced during exercise, and has been shown to help turn white fat into brown fat.

“Brown fat actually burns calories,” Dr. Travis says. Although it’s in very early stages, scientists are attempting to develop an irisin pill to help fight obesity and other weight-related complications.

The Sleep Hormone
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, and assists in regulating other hormones, in addition to maintaining the body’s natural circadian rhythm. A consistent and healthy sleep schedule is imperative to keeping melatonin levels in the right range.

“Low melatonin levels can increase your chances of getting breast cancer,” board-certified breast specialist Dr. Kristi Funk says. “The American Cancer Society found that sleeping less than seven hours a night increases breast cancer [risks] by 47 percent.”

Men also have a higher risk for prostate cancer if their melatonin levels are too low. ER physician Dr. Travis Stork explains how melatonin works in the body, and how to keep melatonin levels in check.

“Like every other hormone in your body, you want [melatonin] to be at the perfect level,” Dr. Travis says. “The pineal gland is like a pinecone in the center of your brain, and it produces melatonin due to a change in light. It’s an antioxidant [that] goes into your cells and fights off free radicals that can cause cancer.”

Many people suffering from sleep deprivation, or even jetlag, will take melatonin supplements, and with certain developmental disorders, such as autism, supplements may be recommended to restore a healthy sleep cycle. The Doctors discuss the safety of supplementation if melatonin levels are low.

“Even though [melatonin] is considered safe [in the U.S.], I’m just nervous about the lack of long-term studies in kids,” pediatrician Dr. Jim Sears says. “And if your teenager or younger child is not sleeping well, I don’t think [melatonin] is the answer."

Consuming olive oil, cherries, tomatoes and tryptophan-rich foods, such as turkey, oatmeal and tuna are natural ways to enhance melatonin levels. Wine and beer, in moderation, can also help boost melatonin production.