Hormone Imbalance: Symptoms, Causes And Treatments
In this article, we will discuss about the hormone imbalance and the symptoms, causes and treatments.
Hormones are chemicals that function as messengers of the body. There are different types of hormones, all of which act on different aspects of bodily functions and processes. A few of these functions include:
- Development and growth
- Sexual function, reproductive growth, and health
- Cognitive function and mood
- Maintenance of body temperature and thirst
Hormone imbalance occurs when there is either too much or too little of some hormone in the bloodstream. Since hormones play a major role in bodily functions, even small imbalances in them can lead to noticeable side effects.
Signs Of Hormone Imbalance In Women
The most common hormones that may be imbalanced in our bodies are cortisol, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, and estrogen. When any of these are either more or less than they should be, you’ll be able to notice any of the following signs.
Progesterone is a compound released by the ovaries that helps you sleep. If your progesterone levels are low, it could lead to difficulties in falling or staying asleep. During perimenopause and menopause, the ovaries produce lesser progesterone and estrogen, which leads to a lack of sleep due to night sweats.
Changes In Skin And Hair
A sudden increase in acne is an easy way to identify hormone imbalance. Androgen, a hormone found in both men and women, is responsible for regulating your skin’s sebum production. When this hormone is produced in excess, sebum production increases, leading to increased acne.
Hair loss is also a common symptom during hormonal changes. PCOS and pregnancy are the two main reasons for hair loss during hormonal imbalance. Other reasons could entail psoriasis and thyroid abnormalities.
Weight gain or trouble losing weight is another symptom you might notice when going through hormone imbalance. This usually happens due to high levels of cortisol in our body. Extra cortisol is produced as a defence mechanism when our bodies are going through stress. Low levels of thyroid and PCOS can be two other reasons for unexplained weight gain.
Low levels of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone can all lead to a reduced sex drive. Moreover, the imbalance may lead to vaginal dryness that makes sexual intercourse painful. This is common after the age of 50 since the production of estrogen and testosterone starts declining.
Irregular Menstrual Cycles
Hormone imbalance can often lead to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition in which the female body starts producing higher levels of male hormones. Women experiencing PCOS do not ovulate regularly and may even experience prolonged menstrual cycles.
The reason for fatigue due to hormone imbalance is the same as the reason for insomnia. Low levels of progesterone can make you feel more tired than usual. Low thyroid levels are another reason for fatigue. If you believe that you are tired despite getting enough rest, consider getting a blood test to check your hormone levels.
There can be many other symptoms of hormonal imbalance like mood swings, anxiety, digestive issues, and headaches. However, the signs mentioned above are the common ones.
Signs Of Hormone Imbalance In Men
Diagnosing hormonal imbalance can be tough cause you can face an array of physical and psychological changes. However, these are the five key signs of hormonal balance in men.
Gynecomastia, or enlargement of breast tissues, is a common and often distressing sign of hormone imbalance among men. The breast tissues can grow because of lifestyle choices like an unhealthy diet, or lack of activeness. However, if your breast tissue is disproportionally large as compared to your body, hormone imbalance may be the reason.
It occurs when the ratio of testosterone to estrogen is out of alignment. While it does not pose any physical harm to you, it can be emotionally distressing for many men.
Reduced sex drive or loss of libido is another sign of low testosterone or high estrogen levels. While there could be many other reasons for a reduced sex drive, a hormone imbalance is usually the root cause of the problem. Low libido could lead to mental strain and be psychologically tough.
While low testosterone could be one reason for erectile dysfunction, it is rarely the only reason. Erectile dysfunction is the inability to get or maintain an erection rigid enough for sex. A few other causes for ED could be depression, physical injury, heart diseases, and age.
Losing Muscle And Gaining Fat
Most of the time when we notice that our bodies are losing muscle and gaining fat, we usually blame our poor lifestyle habits. However, in many cases, hormone imbalance is to be blamed for those changes. Testosterone is the main hormone responsible for building and maintaining muscle. Therefore, when testosterone levels drop, you may notice a loss of muscles.
Even high levels of cortisol could lead to weight gain. Excess cortisol is produced as a defence mechanism when your body is under stress. Additionally, even thyroid disorders could lead to decreased metabolism resulting in weight gain.
Besides causing physical changes to your body, hormone imbalance can even cause mood changes. Low testosterone levels can lead to irritability, decreased motivation, anxiety, and depression. Even thyroid disorders can lead to changes in your mood.
A few other signs of hormone imbalance in men are excessive sweating, fatigue, headaches, and increased thirst. With the right medication, it is possible to balance the hormones.
Causes Of Hormone Imbalance
While everyone will experience natural periods of hormone imbalance as a process of growing up, sometimes, there could be other reasons for it. Some of these reasons are:
- Eating disorders
- Birth control pills
- Hormone therapy
- Cancer treatments, like chemotherapy
- Injury or trauma
- Poor diet and nutrition
- Pituitary tumours
- Being overweight
- Severe allergic reactions or infections
- Iodine deficiency
- Underactive or overactive thyroid
- Premature menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency
- Addison’s disease (low levels of cortisol and aldosterone)
- Prostate cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Hyperglycemia or hypoglycemia
Lastly, hormonal imbalance is natural when one goes through puberty. Even exposure to certain toxins and chemicals could cause an imbalance in the body.
Natural Ways To Balance Your Hormones
You may be required to work with an endocrinologist or some other specialist to balance your hormones. However, there are many ways you can balance your hormones naturally. Some of these ways are:
- Eliminate or reduce sugar to keep insulin levels in check
- Manage and reduce stress to balance cortisol levels
- Regular physical exercise to reduce the risk of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes
- Limit toxins to ensure your estrogen levels are not too high
- Follow an anti-inflammatory diet to keep hormone production in check
- Get good sleep since your circadian rhythm impacts many hormones including cortisol and ghrelin
- Eat healthful fats to balance hormones involved in appetite and metabolism
- Consume green tea to boost metabolic health
- Quit smoking tobacco as it may alter thyroid hormone levels
- Women should be careful when consuming dairy products
- Men should consider eliminating alcohol
Applying these lifestyle changes will not only help you balance out hormone levels but will make you healthier and fitter.
Treatment Options For Hormone Imbalance
There is no single test available to treat hormone imbalance. Therefore, you should meet up with the doctor to figure what treatment is best for your symptoms. A few available treatment options for hormone imbalance are:
- Estrogen therapy for hot flashes or uncomfortable symptoms of menopause
- Vaginal estrogen for vaginal dryness or pain during sex
- Hormonal birth control to regulate menstrual cycles
- Anti-androgen medication for controlling high levels of androgen
- Testosterone therapy to reduce symptoms of low testosterone in men
- Thyroid hormone therapy to bring hormone levels back into balance
Each treatment focuses on different hormones, and a few tests will be able to diagnose what hormone imbalance you have.
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Ultimately, even small hormonal changes can have a significant impact on your bodily functions. Lifestyle changes may help you keep these symptoms under control. However, if the symptoms seem more intense, professional medical help is recommended.
May 26, 2021 Sam Bell