Hormones are chemical messengers that essentially tell tissues and organs how to act. Hormones control everything from reproduction to metabolism and more. However, when there’s a hormonal imbalance, meaning you have too much or too little or a specific hormone, these changes can affect your overall wellness.
Since hormones play such an integral role in your health, there is a broad range of symptoms that alert a hormonal imbalance, including:
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle aches
- Stiff joints
- Thinning hair
- Irritability and mood changes
Hormonal imbalances can cause one or more of these symptoms at the same time. Symptoms of hormonal imbalance may change depending on the glands and hormones being affected.
Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms in Women
In women, hormone cycles change naturally during puberty, pregnancy, while breastfeeding, and during menopause. Due to women’s endocrine organs and cycles, women are more likely to suffer hormonal imbalances than men. Some medical conditions that affect hormones include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Birth control medications
- Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)
- Ovarian cancer
Many women experience heavy, irregular, and painful periods during their lifetime. While most believe these symptoms are normal, they might be a sign of hormonal imbalances. An excess of progesterone and estrogen can lead to heavy bleeding during your period since these are the two hormones related to regulating the buildup of the lining of the uterus.
Thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism. An underactive thyroid can lead to unexpected weight gain and make it difficult for you to lose weight, particularly in women over 60 who are most susceptive to suffer from hypothyroidism. On the other hand, an overactive thyroid gland produces excess thyroxine hormones which increase metabolism and often leads to unexpected weight loss.
Hormones in women are closely related to many skin issues including acne on the face, chest, and upper back. Also, darkening of the skin and skin tags can also be attributed to hormonal imbalances. During menopause, most women also experience thin and dry skin which can be a symptom of hormone discrepancies.
Alopecia or hair loss affects about 6.8 million in the United States alone. While there are many causes of hair loss in women, hormonal imbalances is a very common one. Hair loss is attributed to androgens known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that affect hair follicles leading to thinning hair and eventually hair loss.
Hormonal imbalance often leads to vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy. Unbalanced estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels result in drying of the vaginal wall and reduce muscle tone in the vagina which leads to less sensation in the area.
Those same hormones that lead to vaginal dryness, also lead to sexual issues such as low libido and painful intercourse. Since vaginal dryness makes sex painful and uncomfortable, many women experience a decrease in sex drive at the same time. Also, vaginal atrophy leads to lessening sexual sensibility, inhibits the ability of women to orgasm, and can lead to other issues such as incontinence.
Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms in Men
While men don’t experience as many hormonal cycles during their lifetime as women, they still go through hormonal imbalances during puberty and aging. Even though men have different periods, they’re also at risk of developing hormonal imbalances. Some medical conditions that affect hormones include:
- Prostate cancer
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a men’s inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough to have sex. Occasional ED isn’t uncommon; the problem becomes when it becomes continuous. There are many causes attributed to ED. Low testosterone levels reduce sex drive and libido, which inhibits the ability to produce an erection. Low testosterone also leads to other sexual disorders including premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, and the inability to achieve orgasms.
Gynecomastia is a common symptom of andropause or male menopause, which refers to the atypical enlargement of breasts in men. However, the condition is more common in newborns or during puberty, because gynecomastia is associated with hormonal imbalances common during these cycles. Enlarged breast in men occur due to an imbalance of testosterone and estrogen levels when estrogen levels increase, and hypothyroidism is also present, men can suffer from gynecomastia.
Similar to women, hormonal imbalances in men can cause weight gain. In particular, weight gain in men is tied to high cortisol levels in the body; cortisol is the stress hormone. When cortisol levels are high for prolonged periods, it increases appetite and diminishes testosterone levels, which leads to low energy, eventually affecting a man activity level, resulting in weight gain.
Much like in women, men also experience hair loss due to hormonal imbalances. In men, the high concentration of testosterone, which means there are high levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of testosterone, means they’re at higher risk of suffering hair loss. Again, an imbalance in these hormone levels increases hair’s natural resting cycle, diminishing hair growth, particularly in the front and crown of the head.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) refers to the enlargement of the prostate, which makes urination difficult for men. The growth of the prostate gland is regulated by testosterone, estrogen, and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). As testosterone levels decrease, estrogen levels increase creating a hormonal imbalance. A fluctuation of these hormones can also lead to interstitial cystitis (IC) also known as painful bladder syndrome, which diminishes bladder capacity and urinary incontinence.
There Is a Solution to Hormonal Imbalances
Getting your hormones tested can help you rule out your symptoms and get a better idea of what hormones are out of their normal levels. Then, with bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, we can work to get your hormones back to their normal values to ease symptoms caused by imbalanced hormones.