Hormone imbalance is a topic that can affect men and women of all ages and is responsible for a huge number of searches online by many people – people like you who want their questions answered simply and well. So, we’ve gathered together a FAQs post to give you everything you might be wanting to know about hormone imbalance. Read on and see if we’ve covered your particular question!
How Do I know if I Might Have a Hormone Imbalance?
Have you been feeling “off,” and you just can’t figure out why?
You’re not exactly sick, but you’re not exactly well.
Some days your brain works just fine, while others, your mind goes blank when you are trying to remember a piece of trivial information.
You’re suddenly tired all the time, but you still can’t sleep at night.
This constant feeling like something isn’t quite right with your physical, emotional, and mental health can take a toll. Searching for ways to “fix whatever it is” can be exhausting. And the experience can be frightening, especially if your doctor can’t figure out why it’s going on either.
It’s possible it might be hormonal imbalance, so let’s look at possible symptoms.
What Are Possible Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance
Have some of these symptoms interfered with your daily life? Common hormonal conditions affecting both men and women could cause any of the following signs or symptoms:
- unexplained, and sometimes sudden, weight loss
- muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
- pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints
- muscle weakness
- increased or decreased heart rate
- a hump of fat between the shoulders
- increased sensitivity to cold or heat
- more frequent bowel movements
- frequent urination
- increased thirst
- increased hunger
- weight gain
- decreased sex drive
- blurred vision
- thinning hair or fine, brittle hair
- dry skin
- puffy face
- rounded face
- purple or pink stretch marks
- No libido
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
That’s quite a list, so let’s turn now to the age question.
At What Age Can Hormone Imbalance Happen?
Hormone imbalance can happen to anyone of any age. Here’s an example. Adolescents. Need we say more? As a child moves through puberty, their bodies are swarming with hormones. During this time, they experience a hormone imbalance. It’s a natural part of aging – from being a child to being an adult.
Puberty isn’t the only time that you can expect a hormone imbalance. For women, hormone imbalances also occur
- during the ebb and flow of the menstrual cycle,
- as the body gestates a fetus and prepares for childbirth, and
- as women transition out of their fertile years and into the post-menopausal stage of life.
And men… Is there such a thing as hormone imbalance in men?
Yes. Men also experience hormone imbalance as they age. Did you know that a male body aged 30+ decreases testosterone production by 1% a year? That’s why many men suffer the symptoms of andropause (male menopause) as they move into their 50s and beyond.
What Causes Hormone Imbalance?
When it comes to the cause of hormone imbalance in women and in men, aging isn’t the only factor. Other factors that can cause hormone levels to fluctuate are:
- hormone therapy
- cancer treatments such as chemotherapy
- tumors, whether cancerous or benign
- pituitary tumors
- eating disorders
- injury or trauma
Sometimes the imbalance forms a vicious cycle because although the conditions can stem initially from hormonal imbalances, they can also lead to further hormonal imbalances. These include:
- diabetes (type 1 and type 2)
- hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules
- diabetes insipidus
- hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid
- hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid
- Cushing syndrome, or high levels of cortisol
- Addison’s disease
- congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which causes low levels of cortisol and aldosterone
What are Common Causes of Hormone Imbalance Symptoms in Females?
Hormonal imbalance in women is often related to reproductive hormones and conditions like:
- primary ovarian insufficiency
- Use of hormone drugs such as birth control pills
The causes and symptoms of hormone imbalance differ, however, depending on which hormones or glands are affected. Why? Well, that leads us to the general hormone question that people ask!
What Are Hormones?
A quick “hormones 101” here, then.
Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. After these chemicals are produced in the endocrine glands, they go out on their own, traveling around your bloodstream telling tissues and organs what to do.
There are 50+ different kinds of hormones in your body. Although they each have different functions, they are networked together, kind of like your devices. They can communicate with one another. And, unlike your devices (hopefully), if one hormone goes down, it affects the other hormones. They respond and react in their own way. That means that if one hormone stops doing its job properly, then others may start to, as well.
Since hormones affect many of your body’s major processes, including growth, metabolism, and reproduction, even one hormone level going awry can cause all kinds of hormone imbalance symptoms.
If you know already that you’d like to speak to us, contact us now to arrange a consultation. Otherwise let’s move on to…
Can My Doctor Just Give Me a Test for Hormone Imbalance?
Yes and no. You may be surprised your doctor can’t just give you a “hormone check.” It seems like it would be as easy as checking cholesterol, Vitamin B12, or Vitamin D levels, but it’s not.
So, why can’t my doctor give me a quick hormone imbalance test?
Testing hormones differs from testing cholesterol or iron because it’s natural for your hormone levels to change on a daily, even hourly, basis. Hormone levels shift for a lot of reasons, including
- where you’re at in your menstrual cycle
- when and what you last ate
- what your other hormones are doing
- how stressed out you are
In addition, the sheer number of hormones (over 50) also makes it impossible to use a single test to check hormone levels.
Which Hormones Typically Cause Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance?
The six most common hormone imbalances are:
- Cortisol (the stress hormone)
- Estrogen (a sex hormone found in both men and women)
- Insulin (hormone responsible for blood sugar regulation)
- Progesterone (sex hormone, more prominent in women)
- Testosterone (sex hormone, more prominent in men than women)
- Thyroid (regulates how your body uses energy and affects weight gain)
So, how do you know if you have a hormone imbalance?
Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to find out exactly what’s out of balance.
The first clue that you have a hormone imbalance is the symptoms – as we mentioned up top. The symptoms are pretty easy to notice when your hormones are off.
Your doctor will take an educated guess at what hormones to check, based on these symptoms, your age, and your medical history. Then they’ll run labs.
Some hormones have to be tested multiple times on a specific day of your cycle, so you may not get an immediate answer as to what’s going on.
Is There Something I Can Do to Treat a Hormone Imbalance at Home?
Since hormone levels are affected by so many factors, there are many things that you can try at home to relieve symptoms.
- Eat enough protein at each meal (20-30 grams at each meal)
- Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates
- Consume high-quality, healthy natural fats and avoid trans fats
- Avoid overeating
- Avoid under-eating
- Eat fatty fish
- Drink green tea
- Eat foods that are high in fiber
- Eat eggs
Perform strength training, aerobics, walking, or other forms of physical activity regularly.
Manage your stress
- Get a massage
- Practice yoga
- Listen to soothing music
- Talk with a trusted friend or counselor
- Participate in enjoyable activities
- Plan get 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night
- Keep a regular bedtime routine (same time each night, too)
- Make your sleep environment pleasant, quiet, and comfortable
What if I’ve done all of these things, but my symptoms aren’t going away?
The good news is that there are plenty of options to treat a hormone imbalance medically. Again, the best treatment options depend on the hormones that are causing the symptoms. One of the most common and effective ways to treat many hormone imbalances is Hormone Replacement Therapy.
So now we’ll move on to that question…
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy uses medication that contains hormones. You take the medication to replace the hormones that you are lacking – basically, replacing them.
Is there a natural hormone replacement therapy available?
Yes. The hormones in Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (see link above) have the same chemical structures as the hormones secreted by the ovaries, adrenal glands, or testes. Although they’re made in a lab, they’re produced from plants like soy or sweet potatoes and replicate the natural human hormone.
What’s the best hormone replacement therapy delivery system?
The best way to replace hormones differs for each person. Sometimes it’s necessary to try 2 or 3 different delivery systems until you find what works best for you.
For instance, hormones can be delivered to your body via:
What Happens if I Don’t Treat a Hormone Imbalance?
It depends on what the underlying cause of the hormone imbalance is. If your hormone imbalance is related to the natural transition of perimenopause or menopause, then the effect of not getting treatment could be 10-13 years of suffering from hormone imbalance symptoms.
On the other hand, not treating a hormone imbalance can also lead to other more serious problems like
- elevated cholesterol
- heart problems
- lack of sleep
- sexual dysfunction
Hormone imbalances can also be red flags that a more serious condition is happening in your body and needs treatment, so it’s always best to consult with a doctor if you have concerns.
You know your body. If you think something is off, it probably is.
We are more than willing to discuss any of the many points in the lists above. We realize we’ve kept you reading a long time already! But a face-to-face consultation will clear up any further questions you may have about the individual points we’ve made.
So – if you’ve suddenly lost your verve, aren’t sleeping well, are feeling anxious, or have any other hormone imbalance symptoms, it’s time to see your doctor.
We’re here to help!