Hormonal Imbalance : 8 Important Causes, Signs & Treatment

Are you having a lot of mood swings, weight gain, or fatigue? You may have fallen prey to Hormonal Imbalances1Hormones are chemicals that are secreted by the endocrine glands. These hormones function as the messengers of the body. These endocrine systems are scattered throughout the body.

Hormones help the body to control physiological activities and health. Malfunction in the secretion of hormones causes hormonal imbalances. Hormonal issues are shared between the pituitary, hypothalamus, and adrenal glands.

Both increment and decrement in hormonal secretion affect metabolism, mood, growth, sleep cycles, reproduction, and development.

Hormone secretion can be too much or little, which can have severe effects on the body. The hormone levels fluctuate throughout the lifetime, including the natural ageing process and other changes in the endocrine system.

Causes of Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal imbalance can have various causes depending upon the type of hormone or the gland with which the imbalance is associated. There are some prime causes that may lead to hormonal imbalance.

The causes which are typical for hormonal imbalances are stated below.

  1. Stress.
  2. Medications.
  3. Chemotherapy or other cancer treatments.
  4. Tumours, benign or malignant.
  5. Stress.
  6. Injury or Trauma.
  7. Pituitary tumours.
  8. Eating disorders.

Hormonal imbalances cause the conditions given below:

  • Diabetes, both type 1 and 2.
  • Hypothyroidism, not an active thyroid.
  • Hyperthyroidism is a very active thyroid.
  • Thyroiditis.
  • Hypogonadism.
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
  • Addison’s disease.

Causes related to hormonal imbalances in women are majorly reproductive. A few of the causes include:

  • Menopause.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Premature menopause.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Breastfeeding.
  • Drugs, such as birth control pills.

Diagnosing Hormonal Imbalance

Through one single test, it is sort of impossible to diagnose hormonal imbalances. Visit a doctor to get a reference for the tests.

Prepare yourself to describe the symptoms you are facing, and from the timeline, they are occurring. Don’t forget to inform the doctor about the pills and supplements you are consuming.

Be prepared for a few questions that can be asked by the doctors. The questions can include :

  • Symptoms.
  • Weight loss or gain.
  • Mental health.
  • Periods, if irregular.
  • Erectile malfunction.
  • Vaginal dryness or pain while having sex.
  • Plans for pregnancy.

This questionnaire is important because it can clear things out to doctors so that they can suggest you proceed to the next set of diagnoses. You can request your doctor to perform tests from below.

1. Blood Test

As most of the hormones are detected in the blood, a blood test can be referred by your doctor. The blood sample will be sent to a lab for tests.

The doctor can check the levels of estrogen, cortisol, testosterone, and thyroid through the blood test.

2. Pelvic Area Examination.

In females, the tests are done by performing a pap smear2, which means cells are extracted from the cervix area to feel any kind of cysts, lumps, or tumours.

In males, the doctor can check the scrotum for any kind of lumps.

3. Ultrasound

The ultrasound helps in looking inside your body. It uses sound waves to get images of the testicles, uterus, ovaries, thyroid, or pituitary gland.

4. Other Tests

If the above tests are not enough, your doctor may ask you for additional tests like:

  • X-ray.
  • Biopsy.
  • MRI.
  • Thyroid scan.
  • Sperm count test.

There are other tests you can perform at your home. You have to purchase various test kits that are available in the market.

Some tests require blood from your fingertip to check levels of thyroid, cortisol, and sex hormones. Other tests require urine samples or saliva to check progesterone levels or any indication of menopause.

Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance

The secretion of hormones plays a vital role in the overall health of your body. There is a broad range of symptoms that indicates hormonal imbalance. The signs will clearly indicate whether your hormones are working properly or not.

These symptoms include both men and women and keep in mind that these conditions alone do not confirm you have hormonal imbalances.

  • Weight loss and gain.
  • Fatigue.
  • Weak muscles, stiffness.
  • Palpitations.
  • Constipation.
  • Increased thirst and hunger.
  • Depression.
  • Decreased sex drive.
  • Anxiety, nervousness.
  • Infertility.
  • Dry skin.

Symptoms in Females

There are wide ranges of symptoms in females. A few major symptoms are stated below.

1. Painful and Heavy Periods

If you experience heavy periods, which are also painful in areas like the lower back or lower abdomen, you might have developed fibroids3.

Fibroids are not cancerous growths, and they develop in and around the uterus and are stimulated by estrogen. An individual having a family history of pain and heavy pain is at increased risk.

2. Mood Swings

The sex hormone4 in females, known as estrogen, has the ability to stimulate serotonin, a chemical that enhances mood. Improper estrogen secretions can develop mood swings in females, especially before periods. This is known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

3. Degradation of Sleep Quality or Insomnia 

Hormonal Imbalance
By cottonbro studio/Pexels

During menopause, estrogen and progesterone are produced less by the ovaries. They promote sleep. Lack of estrogen can lead to fatigue and less peaceful sleep.

3. Lower Libido

A decrease in sex drive is common among females who are experiencing hormonal imbalances. Especially females with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) have a major effect on sex.

4. Sudden Weight Gain

Weight gains are common in females with unbalanced hormone secretion. The thyroid does not adequate amount of hormones to regulate metabolism.

PCOS is responsible for weight gain too. Women who are in menopause can likely experience weight around the abdomen.

5. Infertility

Irregular hormonal secretions are one of the major factors for female infertility. Fertility levels drop in a female on and after the age of 35 years.

Luteinizing hormone is responsible for the stimulation of releasing an egg from the ovary resulting in irregular periods. Inadequate secretion of this hormone leads to infertility. Menopause and PCOS can affect fertility in a female.

Symptoms in Males

Testosterone is the male primary hormone, there are insulin, cortisol, and thyroid hormones which plays an important role in their respective field. Note the symptoms in men who are suffering from hormonal imbalances.

1. Erectile Dysfunction

Men often develop this inability to get a firm erection for having sexual intercourse. Low testosterone secretions lead to this condition.

2. Anxiety Issues

Less amount of testosterone increases anxiety. In men, testosterone helps reduce fears, submissive behaviours, and avoidance. Anxiety disorders are very humiliating and can be fatal at times.

3. Decrease in Muscle Growth

The growth of muscles decreases in men with hormonal imbalances. Testosterone helps in maintaining strong and big muscles. Secretion, in an inadequate amount, can lead to less muscle density.

4. Feeling of Hot Flashes

Men who suffer from loss of libido and mood swings often feel hot flashes. Improper hormonal secretion leads to this feeling.

Treatment of Hormonal Imbalance

Treating hormonal imbalances depend on the cause it. Given below are a few common treatment options:

  • Vaginal Estrogen

Vaginal dryness or irregular pain during sexual intercourse is an alarm that indicates that your body is not making enough estrogen. In this case, you can try estrogen gel or cream, a tablet, and a ring.

  • Testosterone Therapy

Testosterone-based supplements5 reduce the symptoms of testosterone level deficiency in men. If you have delayed puberty, it can really help you boost testosterone levels. It is available in the form of injections, gel, or patch.

  • Hormonal Birth Control

Hormone-based birth control can help you with proper and regular menstrual cycles. Few hormonal birth control includes:

  1. Pills for birth control.
  2. Patches for birth control.
  3. Birth control shot.
  4. Vaginal ring.

  • Medications for Blocking Androgens

Androgens are sex hormones mainly present in men but also in women. Women with higher androgen levels lead to hair loss, hair growth on the face and other parts of the body, and acne. Medications are available to level the effects of androgen.

  • Metformin

It is a diabetes medicine (type 2) that can be effective in some women with PCOS symptoms. However, doctors do not always approve it, but it can help in the reduction of androgen levels and supports ovulation.

  • Estrogen Therapy

If you experience uncomfortable feelings about menopause or hot flashes, then you can request your doctor to recommend a few doses of estrogen.

  • Natural Remedies

Lifestyle change can really help maintain hormonal changes and get better with time. You can try out yoga. It will help you build up confidence, flexibility, and strength. To check on PCOS symptoms, you should lose weight, which in turn will help you have frequent periods. Men with erectile dysfunction should put a check on their weight to reduce the intensity.

Have a proper diet involving an adequate amount of vegetables, pulses, and meat. Learn to use lubes or moisturizers to decrease vaginal discomfort.

Key Takeaways

Hormones created in our bodies take the responsibility to ensure the well-being of bodily processes. Glands that are not functioning in making hormonal balance can be a big issue. They may include the risk of getting medical conditions like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, or other mental and physical health issues.

Changes in diet and lifestyle can help boost the endocrine glands to secret hormones at adequate levels. Doing exercises, quitting smoking, and less alcohol consumption can really help.

Hormonal imbalances can create a lot of serious complications. Talk to your doctor to seek treatment if the conditions worsen as soon as possible.

  1. Robert-Seilaniantz, Alexandre, et al. “Pathological hormone imbalances.” Current opinion in plant biology 10.4 (2007): 372-379. ↩︎
  2. DeMay, Richard M. “Common problems in Papanicolaou smear interpretation.” Archives of pathology & laboratory medicine 121.3 (1997): 229. ↩︎
  3. Stewart, Elizabeth A., et al. “Uterine fibroids.” Nature reviews Disease primers 2.1 (2016): 1-18. ↩︎
  4. Stachenfeld, Nina S. “Sex hormone effects on body fluid regulation.” Exercise and sport sciences reviews 36.3 (2008): 152-159. ↩︎
  5. Aguilar-Morgan, Adrian Andres, Abraham Morgentaler, and Luis Antonio Reyes-Vallejo. “Testosterone Boosters: How Real Are Their Effects?.” Androgens: Clinical Research and Therapeutics 3.1 (2022): 69-76. ↩︎

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