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Are Your Hormones Imbalanced? Look Out for These Signs

By Skye Sherman  •   July 17, 2023
•    Medically Reviewed By Dr. Christine Bishara, MD - Aug 3, 2023

Photo Credit: by freepik.com
Photo Credit: by freepik.com

When you have a cold or break a leg, the symptoms are obvious and the diagnosis is easy. Treatment, too, is a relatively cut and dry approach. However, when a person is suffering from hormonal imbalances, the seemingly unrelated symptoms and signs can make it confusing and time-consuming to diagnose. Finding a treatment plan that works can also be a challenge.

And yet, our hormones determine so much about how we feel, think, act, and more. It may not be the most obvious connection, but our hormones are powerful chemicals that can practically make or break our wellbeing. If your hormones are imbalanced, it can trickle down and disrupt just about everything else related to your physical and even mental and emotional health.

So how do you know if your hormones are imbalanced? And how do they get that way? What are some hormonal imbalance disorders and how can you work to keep your hormones balanced? In this article, we’ll cover everything men and women need to know about imbalanced hormones. Read on to learn more.

The basics of hormones

Did you know that hormones control everything from metabolism to our body’s homeostasis (internal balance or lack thereof), growth and development, sexual function and reproduction, sleep-wake cycle, and mood?

Our bodies are a delicate balance of chemicals and processes all working in sync. We often have imbalances in nutrition or don’t take great care of ourselves by getting inconsistent sleep, not being as active as we should be, and other lifestyle choices without dramatic effect. However, when our hormones are out of whack, it’s not quite so easy to avoid the effects.

Scientists currently have researched more than 50 hormones in the human body, and if just one of those is imbalanced, it can have a domino effect with all kinds of unfortunate symptoms and even entire disorders.

What’s more, people often think of being “hormonal” as a female thing, or maybe a thing for teenagers going through puberty. But that couldn’t be less accurate. At all ages, both women and men have hormones and are subject to their effects. Everyone is hormonal and can develop imbalances leading to a whole host of symptoms!

The main difference is that women’s hormones are on a month-long cycle, whereas men’s hormones operate on a 24-hour cycle. Both genders go through hormonal changes on a regular, cyclical basis, but the changes are not always so obvious since men experience fluctuations as they go about each day.

As you can see, hormones are powerful chemical signals that can change everything about ourselves, which is why it’s important that they’re in working order.

What you need to know about hormonal imbalance disorders

According to Cleveland Clinic, “A hormonal imbalance happens when you have too much or too little of one or more hormones. … For many hormones, having even slightly too much or too little of them can cause major changes to your body and lead to certain conditions that require treatment. Some hormonal imbalances can be temporary while others are chronic (long-term). In addition, some hormonal imbalances require treatment so you can stay physically healthy, while others may not impact your health but can negatively affect your quality of life.”

Many medical conditions are caused by issues with our hormones. Here are just a few:

● Irregular menstruation (periods), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), anovulation, amenorrhea, low testosterone levels (hypogonadism), endometriosis, perimenopause, and menopause

● Infertility

● Acne, especially during puberty

● Hormonal acne (adult acne), especially during pregnancy, menopause, and for anyone on testosterone therapy

Diabetes (this is the most common endocrine, or hormone-related, condition in the US), which is caused by the pancreas not making any or enough of the hormone insulin

● Thyroid disease, including hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels) and hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone levels)

● Hashimoto’s, Graves disease, Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease

● Obesity, such as when it’s caused by excess cortisol (also a hormone) or hypothyroidism

Hormone imbalances become more likely to occur in anyone as they age, but they can affect anyone at any time due to factors like genetics, stress, poor diet, exercise habits, environmental toxins, gut health, and even medical conditions and medications.

Signs of hormonal imbalance in women and men

To illustrate just how varied the effects of hormonal imbalances can be, check out this line from an article published by Cool Springs OBGYN:

“Are you feeling tired and irritable? Noticing that your hair is thinning and your waistline expanding? How about your sex life? Is your drive at an all-time low, and intercourse not as ‘exciting’ as it once was? You might think these things are just an unfortunate result of getting older or from everyday stress, but it could be your hormones that are causing chaos in your body.”

The article continues, “Hormones can be the culprit behind a wide range of health issues, and we’re not just talking about the usual suspects like your sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.) Your thyroid, kidneys, pancreas, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, brain, and nerve cells also produce hormones that can throw your body off balance.”

While some things apply only to women and their unique physiological processes, many of these symptoms can apply to men as well. For example, weight gain, low libido, excess body fat, decreased muscle mass, fatigue, weight gain, hair loss or thinning, sleep disturbances, digestive issues such as bloating or constipation, and even sensitivity to cold can all be experienced by men or women having hormonal imbalances.

Symptoms unique to women can include irregular periods, mood swings, hot flashes, breast tenderness, pain during or after sex, and vaginal dryness. For men, symptoms might look like a decrease or loss of body hair, erectile dysfunction (ED), gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue), infertility, or a loss of interest in sex.

Either way, it’s important to address any hormonal issues as soon as possible.

Women dealing with hormonal imbalances may be able to treat their symptoms by making lifestyle changes or they may need prescription medications like Synthroid, Premarin vaginal cream, Endometrin, or Culturelle

What creates a hormonal imbalance?

So, how exactly do you develop a hormonal imbalance? Sometimes our bodies just do things and there is no clear explanation behind it, or maybe our genetics are a factor. In other cases, though, lifestyle choices can lead to an imbalance.

One of the biggest culprits is too much stress, which can lead to an excessive amount of the stress hormone, cortisol. Chronic stress can also lead to excess adrenaline, which can disrupt the balance of hormones like insulin, estrogen, and progesterone, which have a major impact on how we feel and think.

A poor diet high in processed foods (which is the opposite of an anti-inflammatory diet), sugar, and unhealthy fats is another big culprit of hormonal imbalances, especially when paired with a lack or insufficient amount of physical activity. On the flip side, over-exercising or having too strict of a diet can also lead to imbalances.

As you can see, the word balance is important here, because it all comes down to striking the right balance. Too much or too little of anything can create problems. Hormonal imbalances can also come from lack of sleep, exposure to environmental toxins, and medications, especially birth control pills and antidepressant medications.

Of course, various medical conditions and genetics or family history can also play a part in hormonal imbalances and may require treatment with prescription medications under the advisory of a trusted physician.

How to balance your hormones

Wondering how to balance your hormones? Sometimes, making lifestyle changes will be enough. Improving your diet, exercise, and sleep routine may be sufficient to get your hormones back in balance. Stress management and supplementation of vitamins and minerals are also key.

However, in some cases, medical intervention or treatment will be required. Surgery or radiation therapy are sometimes the best course of treatment, but are usually a last resort or when there is a risk of cancer. For example, if women are experiencing severe endometriosis or uterine fibroids causing heavy bleeding and chronic pain, a hysterectomy to remove the uterus may be recommended; in other cases, a person with thyroid cancer may need to have their thyroid gland removed.

Cleveland Clinic also explains another common course of treatment: “If you have lower-than-normal hormone levels, the main treatment is hormone replacement therapy [HRT]. Depending on which hormone is deficient, you may take oral medication (pills) or injection medication.”

Balancing your hormones should be accomplished under the supervision of a medical doctor and after consulting with qualified health professionals regarding your unique situation. However, balancing your hormones may be the key to unlocking the healthy, happy state of being you have been seeking.



The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.