It’s that disdainful time of the month when your menstrual cycle is in its most undesirable phase, resulting in sugar cravings, unexpected weight gain, tremendous mood swings, painful cramps and whatnot. Usually what we pass off as minor issues could be much more serious. These are all types of hormonal imbalance symptoms.
Hormonal imbalance symptoms are not just exclusive to females; they affect males as well.
What are Hormones?
Hormones are fluids or chemical substances secreted by the endocrine system, which are transported by blood throughout the body to control bodily functions.
The endocrine system includes glands that produce these hormones. Some hormones work on their own while others are interdependent on each other to carry out their processes.
Hormones regulate various body processes like:
- Fluid retention and balance
- Urine production
- Growth and development
- Sexual reproduction
12 Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms
Any sort of disturbance in hormones leads to problems and symptoms, which are known as hormonal imbalance symptoms.
So here are 12 hormonal imbalance symptoms to look out for in your body. If you notice these in your body, it is advised that one must consult a doctor.
1. Sudden Weight Gain
You have been eating healthy and exercising often but still are unable to decipher the cause of those extra pounds that you suddenly put on.
Looks like you may have under-secretion of the thyroid hormone or insulin. Sudden weight gain is one of the most common hormonal imbalance symptoms seen in middle-aged people.
Decreased production of thyroid hormone leads to decreased metabolism whereas decreased insulin causes decreased processing of the glucose present in the body. This leads to sudden weight gain.
In females, PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disorder), a hormonal disorder is a major cause of unexplained weight gain. However, there is no shame in sudden weight gain, especially if it is out of your control.
Consult a doctor to get a professional medical opinion on what you can do to become healthier.
2. Painful Period Cramps
Period cramps can be painful, and the degree of that pain varies from person to person. While for some, they may be just a slight discomfort, for others they can be painful to the extent that they cause a hindrance to day-to-day activities.
Females who experience very painful period cramps, clots while bleeding, pelvic pain or have uterine fibroids, may have hormonal imbalance symptoms related to estrogen and progesterone. These are female sex hormones that regulate the whole reproductive system. PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) is another hormonal imbalance symptom that a female experiences 3-4 days before her period.
3. Hyperpigmentation of the Skin and Easy Bruising
Those patches or spots on your hands, legs or face that differ from your surrounding skin are called hyperpigmentation.
This happens when cortisol is produced in much larger amounts in the body that causing excessive production of melanin (a pigment that gives black or brown colour to eyes, skin and hair)
Also, if you notice that you have started bruising easily nowadays, cortisol increase can be the reason for it.
Cortisol hormonal imbalance symptoms also include thinning of hair along with lots of hair fall, which is a major complaint amongst young women. Here are a few helpful remedies on how to get rid of hair fall.
Cortisol is also called the ‘stress hormone’. Its increased production in the body can affect one’s mental health along with increasing blood pressure and leading to an array of health problems. Therefore, it should be rectified as soon as possible.
4. Extreme Thirst or Hunger Along with Frequent Urination
This happens because of the increased amount of glucose in the body. The body wants the glucose to be diluted to a healthy level and withdraw water through tissues into the blood, leading to muscle dehydration. A signal is then sent to your brain due to which you end up feeling a sudden extreme amount of thirst. And when you keep on chugging litres of water, the outcome would obviously lead to frequent urination.
Overproduction of insulin decreases the amount of glucose in the body, a term known as hypoglycemia. The body cells become starved which leads to excessive hunger along with headaches. Immediate treatment for low blood sugar levels is suggested.
5. Low BP and Light Headedness
Having low BP (Blood Pressure) along with light-headedness is a sign of ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) imbalance in the body.
It is produced by the anterior pituitary gland. It majorly involves the control of the hormone cortisol and is produced in cases when the body is going through biological stress.
This is why the increase in ACTH in the body may also indicate increased cortisol levels, triggering a few other symptoms related to cortisol.
6. Prolonged Fatigue, Body Aches and Muscle Weakness
Having tiredness along with body pain, loss of appetite and sudden weight loss is not just due to exhaustion. These all come under hormonal imbalance symptoms, namely due to adrenaline.
Adrenalin is produced when the body goes to a sudden ‘fight or flight’ response. It increases the blood pressure and heart rate of the body. Adrenal insufficiency can also cause stomach pain and nausea with vomiting.
7. Irregular Menstrual Cycle in Females:
The normal menstrual cycle lasts for about 28-30 days, a maximum of 31-32 days in some females. But in a few women, one of the major hormonal imbalance symptoms includes irregularity of cycle or their cycle lasting for more than 35 days.
Heavy bleeding, bleeding for more than 7 days, sudden bleeding in between the cycle or skipping your period are all common symptoms of progesterone imbalance in the body.
8. Mood Swings, Depression and Insomnia
Men and women equally experience mood swings. Mood swings combined with depression and insomnia are symptoms of serotonin disbalance in the body.
Serotonin helps regulate emotions and moods in the brain and hence lower levels of serotonin lead to a negative mood and emotional health. Serotonin also helps regulate sleep, low levels of which lead to sleep deprivation.
It is important to have a proper hormonal balance of serotonin in order to have a good night’s sleep.
9. Fat Accumulation Between Shoulders in Females
Excess accumulation of fat in between the shoulder blades in females can be part of the many hormonal imbalance symptoms, namely – estrogen dominance in the body.
Females with increased estrogen may also have increased belly fat as compared to the other parts of the body with their belly hanging down. The weight gain caused by estrogen is a bit hard to put off as compared to normal weight gain.
An increase in estrogen can be caused due to decreased progesterone production, leaving the estrogen unabsorbed in the body.
Decreased estrogen causes decreased sex drive, tender breasts and insomnia in women.
This article gives a few tips to control estrogen dominance in the body.
10. Decreased Libido In Males
Testosterone is the male sex hormone that monitors and regulates the male reproductive system. A hormonal imbalance of testosterone is a very common cause of mood swings in males.
One of the most common testosterone hormonal imbalance symptoms is a decrease in sex drive or libido.
Testosterone helps in the production of sperm, increasing the bulk and muscle mass of the body. It is also responsible for the appearance of males.
Hormonal imbalance symptoms of testosterone also include decreased libido, irritability, sleep deprivation and an increase in weight, especially the accumulation of fat tissue in the breast area of males.
An increase in testosterone also has its cons like increased heart rate and also decreased sperm count.
Men having a higher level of testosterone in their bodies are more susceptible to heart attacks.
11. Heat Flashes and Night Sweats in Females
Women who enter the perimenopause phase or menopause phase after the mid-40s experience lots of hormonal imbalance symptoms.
The most common symptom experienced is hot flashes or night sweats – where the woman feels a sudden amount of heat in the neck region along with profuse sweating.
Hot flashes are caused due to abnormalities in the levels of estrogen or progesterone in the body.
Females who drink, smoke, consume large amounts of spicy foods or take certain medications are more at risk of hot flashes and may have severe episodes.
Hot flushes are a part of heat flashes where there is a sudden rush of blood in the facial region, making the face and ears red and sweaty.
A woman may experience several episodes of hot flashes in a day and when it occurs at night, it is termed as night sweats.
Treatment includes – keeping oneself hydrated, performing deep abdominal breathing exercises, using fans or ACs during the day and while sleeping, using ice packs near pillows while sleeping and doing light exercises like walking, swimming and cycling. Taking proper diet and proper water intake is also very necessary to combat this issue.
Diet preferences for females nearing perimenopause can be found here.
The occurrence of acne is seen mostly during the teenage years when the body undergoes hormonal changes associated with the reproductive system.
In females, along with the onset of the menstrual cycle, acne is a very common change that indicates hormonal changes.
In males, the increase in testosterone levels causes acne.
The overproduction of oil glands and sweat glands combined with hormones is the major cause of acne. The build-up of oil and sweat is called sebum, which clogs the pores of the skin which further gets inflamed and forms a pimple.
Not only in teenagers but acne is also seen in adults.
Acne caused due to stress hormone (cortisol) is seen on the forehead and nose whereas acne caused due to reproductive hormonal imbalance symptoms is seen mostly on the cheeks and near the lips and chin.
Skincare routine for acne-prone skin can be found here
Hormonal imbalance symptoms are not that tough to detect or diagnose in the body. Apart from the physical symptoms, there are various blood tests and physiological tests that can be performed to assess the problem and can also be taken care of with medications.
If not medications, hormonal imbalance symptoms can also be brought under control or avoided through various lifestyle changes, proper diet, exercises and yoga.