What are the symptoms of hormonal imbalance? Find out how fluctuations in hormone levels manifest in the body.
In this article:
- What Are Hormones?
- What Is Hormonal Imbalance?
- What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
- What Are the Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance?
- What Causes Hormonal Imbalance in Men?
- What Causes Hormonal Imbalance in Women?
- How Do You Balance Your Hormones?
Everything You Need to Know About Hormonal Imbalance
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemicals regulated and produced by the endocrine system. These signaling molecules travel through the bloodstream to regulate the activity in your organs.
Specifically, hormones help with the following functions:
- Heart rate
- Growth and development
- Sexual function
- Reproductive cycles
- Stress response
It’s important to have a balanced level of hormones to maintain a healthy body.
What Is Hormonal Imbalance?
A hormonal imbalance is when you have too much or too little of a certain hormone in your bloodstream. Here are a few examples of hormones which can cause problematic health and well-being issues when imbalanced:
- Adrenaline, aka stress hormone
- Growth hormones
- Sex hormones: estrogen (usually for women), progesterone (usually for women), and testosterone (usually for men)
Hormones play such a crucial role in regulating the function of your body’s organs. Even a slight imbalance may cause side effects.
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormonal fluctuations are normal. In fact, there are periods in your life when hormone levels naturally increase or decrease.
However, a hormonal imbalance can also be the result of a problem with endocrine glands.
What are endocrine glands? These are glands which produce and regulate the release of hormones. The adrenal gland, gonads, thyroid, and pituitary glands are examples of endocrine glands.
Here are a few examples of medical conditions which affect the endocrine glands:
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Addison’s disease
- Turner’s syndrome
- Tumors or cysts on the gland
- Certain types of cancer
Here are a few examples of lifestyle choices or environmental factors which affect the endocrine glands:
- Chronic stress
- Diet and nutrition
- Toxin or pollutant exposure
It’s important to understand the possible underlying cause of hormone imbalance to find the best way to treat it.
What Are the Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance?
Different hormones serve different functions. The specific symptoms of hormonal imbalance depends on the specific hormone lacking or in excess.
Here are a few common symptoms shared by different types of hormonal imbalance:
- Metabolism issues – uncontrollable weight loss or weight gain, insulin resistance
- Sleep issues – trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
- Temperature regulation problems – unwarranted sweating or oversensitivity to low/high temperatures
- Changes in skin and hair quality – dry skin, rashes, thinning hair, or brittle hair
- Cardiovascular changes – irregular heart rate or blood pressure
- Skeletal changes – weaker or brittle bones
- Blood sugar changes – increase or decrease in glucose levels
- Mood and mental functioning changes – brain fog, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression
- Fatigue – constantly feeling tired
- Appetite changes – lack of appetite, increase in appetite, or constantly feeling thirsty
- Sex and reproduction issues – decrease in sex drive or infertility
- Excretion issues – urinating more often, urinating less than usual, constipation, or diarrhea
- Vision changes – blurry vision or headaches
- Physical changes – bloating, puffiness in the face, or bulges in the neck
Sometimes, it’s tricky to diagnose the specific type of hormonal imbalance because of these shared symptoms.
RELATED: 7 Signs That You Are In Menopause
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance in Men?
Puberty and aging are the two main natural causes for hormone changes in men. In addition, prostate condition and hypogonadism can also cause hormonal changes.
What is hypogonadism? It’s a condition wherein there’s a reduction or absence of activity in the gonads (i.e. testes) which leads to a testosterone deficiency.
Here are some of the male-specific hormonal imbalance symptoms:
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Increase in breast tissue
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Decrease in sperm count
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance in Women?
Puberty, pregnancy, breast-feeding, and menopause are all phases wherein different hormones may increase or decrease.
Women’s sex hormones also regularly fluctuate during their monthly menstrual cycle. Apart from these natural causes, there are also medical conditions which can cause hormonal imbalance in women, such as:
- Ovarian cancer
- Early or surgical menopause
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)
Certain medications taken for hormone replacement therapy or for birth control purposes may also lead to a hormonal imbalance. Apart from the symptoms listed earlier, here are a few symptoms of hormonal imbalance which are specific to women:
- Tender breasts
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Irregular periods
- Heavy periods
- Painful periods
- Uterine bleeding
- Vaginal dryness
- Deeper voice
Women go through more hormone-related changes than men, so they’re more at risk for hormonal imbalance.
How Do You Balance Your Hormones?
Here are a few of the common treatment options for hormonal imbalance:
- Birth control for irregular periods
- Estrogen for women who experience uncomfortable vaginal changes
- Testosterone gel or patch for men with hypogonadism or low testosterone levels
- Hormone replacement therapy for women undergoing menopause
- Ovulation stimulation medication or assisted fertility treatments for those battling infertility
- Oral medication for diabetes and hypothyroidism
Apart from these treatment options, there are also lifestyle changes and supplements which promote hormone health. They may be able to help ease the symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
These lifestyle changes include:
- Regular exercise
- Good nutrition and healthy diet
- Healthy body mass index
- Stress reduction and management
- Skin care regimen for acne
Keep in mind, the specific treatment for hormonal imbalance depends on the type of hormonal imbalance you have. Each case is different, so it’s important to talk to a health care provider to have a better understanding of your needs.
A hormonal imbalance may have a negative effect on your quality of life. The symptoms don’t only have an impact to your day-to-day routine, but they may also keep you from achieving important life goals.