Have you ever felt gloomy and do not know what went wrong? Have you had bursts of anger or broken down in the middle of the day over the slightest inconvenience? Sudden and unaccounted-for bursts of emotions are normally associated with a surge or decrease in human hormones. While many people ignore the warning signs, finding a fix to hormone imbalance is imperative as it may be due to underlying abnormalities.
Hormonal imbalance refers to a disproportion of hormones in your body. It could either be a result of excessive or too less of hormones in the bloodstream. Since multiple hormones control the daily functions of the human body, even the slightest hormonal imbalance leads to prominent side effects. Recognizing it at the earliest and promptly fixing your hormonal imbalance can prevent serious complications in men and women. But first, what are these substances greatly altering normal body function?
What are Hormones?
Hormones are chemicals secreted by the endocrine glands, traveling through the bloodstream to exert their effect on the target organ or tissue. This way, they vastly regulate bodily processes, playing a major role in optimal body functions. Some of these regulations include:
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar level
- General growth and development
- Mood and stress levels
- Reproductive cycles and sexual function
Hormonal imbalances of chemicals such as adrenaline, insulin, and growth hormones affect men and women alike. However, imbalances in testosterone most likely affect men, and an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone is more likely to affect women.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Males
Some symptoms of hormonal imbalance in males specifically arise due to an altered function or serum level of the hormone testosterone.
- Chest tenderness
- Decrease in muscle mass
- Decreased sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction or ED
- Thinning hair and reduced hair growth
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Females
Hormonal imbalances specific to females are due to altered levels of estrogen and progesterone. They present as:
- Abdominal or back pain during menstruation
- Brittle bones
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Decreased sex drive
- Hirsutism (excessive hair growth)
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Skin rash
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
Causes of Hormonal Imbalance
While hormonal imbalances are natural and occur during certain periods in every person’s life, some of them may be concerning and a result of mild or severe diseases. Other causes may include lifestyle or environmental changes. The aforementioned causes alter the function of endocrine glands, which are not functioning properly.
Endocrine glands are groups of specialized cells that partake in the production, storage, and release of hormones into the blood. Endocrine glands located inside the body include:
- Adrenal glands
- Gonads, including testis and ovaries
- Hypothalamus gland
- Pancreatic islets
- Pineal gland
- Pituitary gland
- Thyroid and parathyroid glands
When experiencing symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor and fix your hormonal imbalance in case of any underlying diseases. These medical conditions may include, but are not limited to:
- Acromegaly – overproduction of growth hormone
- Addison’s disease – due to malfunction of the adrenal glands and less production of the adrenal hormones
- Benign tumors and cysts in the endocrine glands, inhibit normal function
- Cancers involving the endocrine glands
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
- Cushing’s syndrome – due to malfunction of adrenal glands and excessive production of corticosteroids
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Diabetes – underproduction of the insulin hormone
- Iodine deficiency – which presents as goiter
- Hereditary pancreatitis
- Hyperglycemia – overproduction of glucagon that is what is required by the body
- Hyperthyroidism – increased activity of the thyroid gland
- Hypoglycemia – overproduction of insulin that is what is required by the body
- Hypothyroidism – the reduced activity of the thyroid gland
- Pituitary gland injury
- Pituitary tumors
- Prader-Willi syndrome
- Solitary thyroid nodules
- Turner syndrome (XO) – females born with just one functioning X chromosome
Other causes relevant to lifestyle and environment may include:
- Birth control medication
- Chronic stress
- Exposure to pollutants, toxins, pesticides, insecticides, or other chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system
- Hormonal replacement therapy
- Misuse of anabolic steroid medications
- Poor diet and nutrition
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance in males may be a result of natural causes or diseases restricted solely to the male gender. The natural causes include:
On the other hand, the diseases that may cause hormonal imbalance in men may include:
- Congenital problems
- Hypogonadism – underproduction of testosterone
- Kallman syndrome
- Klinefelter syndrome
- Prostate cancer
- Pituitary tumor
- Radiation or chemotherapy
- Testicular injury
- Type 2 diabetes
Similarly, natural causes of hormonal imbalance in women are the same as in men. The complicated causes include:
- Hormone replacement or birth control therapy
- Ovarian cancer
- Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Fixing Hormonal Imbalance
While there is no one specific fix for hormonal imbalance, it can be cured by treating the underlying diseases or their causes. Due to the variety of causes of hormonal imbalance in both men and women, their treatment plan needs to be curated according to individual needs.
The fix for hormonal imbalance in males may include, but is not limited to:
Low testosterone levels tend to induce delayed or stunted puberty. Gels and patches containing testosterone as their main ingredient work best to reduce symptoms of hypogonadism.
The treatment for hormonal imbalance in females may include, but is not limited to:
- Anti-androgen Medications
These are generally prescribed to block androgens – the predominantly male sex hormones. They help in reducing hair loss, limiting excessive body hair growth, and severe acne.
- Assisted reproductive technology
People with polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS complications may find it difficult to conceive. In vitro fertilization or IVF is a great fix for people looking to get pregnant despite their PCOS.
- Birth control
Medications containing progesterone or estrogen can prevent you from unwanted pregnancy. Available in the form of a pill, patch, ring, shot, or an intrauterine device (IUD), birth control also regulates the irregular menstrual cycle.
- Clomiphene (Clomid)
This medication is used to stimulate ovulation in people who are otherwise infertile due to PCOS. They may be given in addition to gonadotropin injections to induce fertility and increase the chances of conceiving.
- Eflornithine (Vaniqa)
This prescription cream is used to slow excessive facial growth in women.
- Hormone Replacement Medications
Severe symptoms that are generally associated with menopause may be treated with hormone replacement medications. Hormone replacement therapies are best prescribed for hot flashes or night sweats.
- Vaginal Estrogen
Changes in estrogen levels may cause vaginal dryness. Applying creams or gels containing estrogen directly to the vagina helps relieve vaginal dryness. In addition to this, estrogen tablets and rings may also be used to improve these symptoms.
It is normal for humans to experience at least one or two periods of hormonal imbalance in their life – one at puberty and the other due to lifestyle factors, such as stress. The hormone imbalance during puberty, menstruation, menopause, and pregnancy is common and is not meant to last a long while. However, some people may experience continuous irregular hormonal changes in their bodies due to external factors or medical conditions.
While some people resort to medications to find a fix to their hormonal imbalance, others may resort to lifestyle changes. Regardless of whichever method you choose to treat yourself, make sure you visit a doctor and get yourself checked for any other medical conditions that may be associated with your hormonal imbalances. At Family Medicine Austin, we offer comprehensive preventive and diagnostic disease management care for you and your family! Reach out to us today and avail our full spectrum of healthcare.