Hormones and Endocrinology

With 30 years of experience in hormonal disorders, Dr. Scumpia specializes in comprehensive hormone assessment and treatment.

  • Endocrinology is the science of hormones, which are substances released in the blood stream that affect virtually all the functions and cells in your body. The endocrine system is a complex and tightly regulated system, unmatched by any supercomputer today. If you have a hormone imbalance, you should see an endocrinologist. Dr. Scumpia, a board-certified endocrinologist, has provided endocrine care to the Austin community for more than 20 years.
  • An endocrinologist is a medical doctor with extensive additional training: three years of residency, board certification in internal medicine, two to three years of fellowship in endocrinology and metabolism, followed by a second certification as an endocrinologist.
  • Examples of endocrine diseases: thyroid disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome and obesity, hirsutism, menopause, pituitary and adrenal disease, low testosterone in males, andropause and impotence, polycystic ovaries, recurrent kidney stones, irregular or lack of menstrual periods, and high and low calcium.
  • Hormones should not be used for treatment unless there is clinical and laboratory evidence of a hormone deficiency. Using hormones for treatment of symptoms of fatigue, depression, antiaging is strongly discouraged because of multitude of side effects that hormone therapy can cause.
  • Aging causes changes in the hormone production and hormone secretion, interfering in their metabolism (how quickly the hormones are broken down and leave the body) and in how the target tissues respond to the same amount of hormone. Therefore, any hormone therapy must be tailored to the patient’s age.
  • Other diseases and conditions may alter the hormone system. Some of these include genetic and congenital defects, surgery, radiation, cancer treatments, traumatic injuries, infections and autoimmune problems. For example, having had brain trauma as a child can result in pituitary failure. Another example is when you have another autoimmune problem, like Type I Diabetes or Rheumatoid Arthritis, you may have a higher chance of developing thyroid autoimmune problems. Past radiation to parts of your body may also increase the risk of endocrine problems.
  • Stress can trigger the stress response, a mechanism involving the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the adrenal glands. This can trigger a cascade of hormones, which then influence your heart and kidneys.
  • Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC) are environmental factors that can affect you in many ways such as disrupted sexual development, decreased fertility, birth defects. They can reduce your immune response and your ability to handle stress. EDC is still in its infancy, but shows great promise.
  • Finally, genetic factors play a role. Chromosome abnormalities (Down or Turner Syndrome) and other genetic factors render you predisposed to certain diseases such as diabetes, breast cancer, obesity, and cholesterol.

Endocrine Glands

Endocrine system
Consists of several glands: pituitary, hypothalamus, thymus, pineal, testicles, ovaries, thyroid, adrenal, parathyroid, and pancreas.

Pituitary gland
Considered the “queen mother gland,” since it controls many other endocrine glands via the hormones it secretes: prolactin, growth hormone, adrenocorticotropic, thyroid stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, oxytocin, antidiuretic hormone, etc. Pituitary disorders are complicated.

The part of the brain just above the pituitary gland. It releases hormones, which control the pituitary, including the growth hormone that regulates growth.

A gland needed in early life for the development of the immune system by secreting hormones called humoral factors.

Pineal gland
Produces melatonin, which interferes with sleep.

Produce testosterone and help with sperm production. Low testosterone may cause lack of muscles, fatigue depression, and infertility. Check your testosterone if you have a drop in sexual desire, poor erections, low sperm count, enlarged or tender breasts.  Do not undergo testosterone treatment unless a reputable lab produces a clear diagnosis of low testosterone.  Treatment with testosterone in the absence of a deficiency may cause serious health problems.

Produce estrogen and progesterone responsible for development of the breast, ovulation, menstrual periods, and maintaining pregnancy. Disorders of ovaries include polycystic ovaries, menopause, and irregular menstrual periods.  Symptoms include facial hair and irregular or absent periods. Estrogen bioidentical hormones for treatment of menopause cause the same side effects and complications as synthetic hormones: breast cancer, increased risk for cardiovascular disease.  Therefore, hormone replacement therapy is recommended only in early menopause and for severe hot flushes.

A small gland in front of the neck. It secretes the thyroid hormones, T3 and T4, and controls your metabolism, your body’s ability to break down food and store energy.  Thyroid disease includes hypothyroidism (low thyroid), hyperthyroidism (high thyroid), Hashimoto, Graves’ disease, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer.  Symptoms include a lump in the neck, history of radiation to the face, chest, and neck, family history of thyroid problems, fatigue, weight gain or loss, slow metabolism, irregular periods, lack of libido, hair loss, cold sensitivity, heat intolerance, constipation, diarrhea, palpitations, and rapid heartbeat.  Do not use thyroid hormone for treatment of depression, fatigue, or weight loss.

Adrenal gland
Secretes cortisol, which controls stressors and response to stress and blood sugar, and epinephrine (adrenaline), which regulates the response to stress. Adrenal diseases are adrenal failure (Addison disease), Cushing’s disease, Conn Syndrome, and pheochromocytoma.

Located by the thyroid, secretes the parathyroid hormone, which maintains the proper calcium balance, and helps develop the bones. Too much parathyroid hormone leads to high calcium in the urine and blood and causes Kidney stones and osteoporosis.

A large gland located behind the stomach. It secretes insulin, which helps the sugar move from the blood stream to the cells, and glucagon, which tells the liver to release the sugar stored for proper energy maintenance. Diseases of the pancreas are Type 1 Diabetes, which requires insulin at all times.

Vitamin D
Now considered a hormone. Vitamin D deficiency affects 35% of the population and can lead to osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones.  Symptoms are fatigue, memory loss, brain fog, diffuse muscle and joint and bone pains.

Myth vs Fact
Male Menopause
“Male Menopause” is not real.  Testosterone, the male sex hormone, is needed for growth of body hair, building strong bones and muscles, and producing sperm. As men age, testosterone levels (T-levels) can decline because of medication, illness, injury or lifestyle factors. This drop in testosterone is inaccurately classified as “male menopause,” when in fact, should simply be considered a symptom of male aging.
Adrenal Fatigue
“Adrenal Fatigue” is not a real disease, since no scientific facts exist to support this term.  It is derived   from the belief that when you are under stress, you require more adrenal hormone, because your adrenal glands may be tired.  However, adrenal failure is a true disease caused by a damaged pituitary or adrenal gland, is life threatening, and must be treated and followed closely.
Bio-Identical Hormones
“Bio-identical Hormones” are not human identical hormones.  Examples: Armour Thyroid, which is pork thyroid, and progesterone, derived from yams.  Both are bio-identical, since they come from a biological source, but they are not human identical.  Bio-identical hormones may cause the same complications as any other hormones treatments.
Fountain of Youth Hormones
“Fountain of Youth” Hormones include Growth Hormone and DHEAS.  Neither one should be used for antiaging, since they can cause serious side effects.  Growth hormone deficiency requires a firm diagnosis by stimulating tests and its treatment needs to be under the guidance of an endocrinologist. Treatment with DHEAS in the absence of a deficiency may result in excessive hair growth and deepening of the voice in women and enlargement of the breast in men.
HCG Diet
“HCG Diet” uses the human choriogonadotrophic hormone secreted by the placenta in a pregnant woman and does not cause weight loss.  Using hCG can cause irregular periods, ovarian cysts, blood clots in women and breast enlargement and decreased sperm production in men. The weight loss in the hCG diet is caused by following the 500 calories a day diet, which may be harmful if not carefully supervised.
HCG Diet
“HCG Diet” uses the human choriogonadotrophic hormone secreted by the placenta in a pregnant woman and does not cause weight loss.  Using hCG can cause irregular periods, ovarian cysts, blood clots in women and breast enlargement and decreased sperm production in men. The weight loss in the hCG diet is caused by following the 500 calories a day diet, which may be harmful if not carefully supervised.
Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome
“Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome” is not accepted by the medical community, since no scientific data supports it.  It pretends to be a diagnosis for many common ailments, from fatigue to headaches to depression.  All are common, non-specific, and can occur in many diseases or even part of normal life.  Practitioners who accept Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome treat it with T3 hormone. However, excessive T3 levels can cause heart complications and risk of bone fractures due to calcium loss.