What to know about hormonal imbalances

What to know about hormonal imbalances

Hormones are chemicals that are produced by glands in the endocrine system. Hormones travel through the bloodstream to the tissues and organs, delivering messages that tell the organs what to do and when to do it.
Hormones are important for regulating most major bodily processes, so a hormonal imbalance can affect a wide range of bodily functions. Hormones help to regulate:
 
Metabolism and appetite
Heart rate
Sleep cycles
Reproductive cycles and sexual function
General growth and development
Mood and stress levels
Body temperature
 
Men and women alike can be affected by imbalances in insulin, steroids, growth hormones, and adrenaline.
Women may also experience imbalances in estrogen and progesterone levels, while men are more likely to experience imbalances in testosterone levels.
 
Symptoms
The symptoms of a hormonal imbalance depend on which glands and hormones are affected.
Symptoms associated with the more common causes of hormonal imbalances include:
 
Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
Unexplained or excessive sweating
Difficulty sleeping
Changes in sensitivity to cold and heat
Very dry skin or skin rashes
Changes in blood pressure
Changes in heart rate
Brittle or weak bones
Changes in blood sugar concentration
Irritability and anxiety
Unexplained and long-term fatigue
Increased thirst
Depression
Headaches
Needing to go to the bathroom more or less than usual
Bloating
Changes in appetite
Reduced sex drive
Thinning, brittle hair
Infertility
Puffy face
Blurred vision
A bulge in the neck
Breast tenderness
Deepening of the voice in females
Hormone Imbalances symptoms
 
Causes
Everyone will experience natural periods of hormonal imbalance or fluctuations at particular points in their life.
But hormonal imbalances can also occur when the endocrine glands are not functioning properly.
Endocrine glands are specialized cells that produce, store, and release hormones into the blood. There are several endocrine glands located throughout the body that control different organs, including the:
Adrenal glands
Gonads (testis and ovaries)
Pineal gland
Pituitary gland
Hypothalamus gland
Thyroid and parathyroid glands
Pancreatic islets
Several medical conditions are known to impact some, or several, of the endocrine glands. Certain lifestyle habits and environmental factors may also play a role in hormonal imbalances.
Causes of hormonal imbalances include:
Chronic or extreme stress
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
Hyperglycemia (overproduction of glucagon)
Hypoglycemia (more insulin produced than there is glucose in the blood)
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
Over- or underproduction of the parathyroid hormone
Poor diet and nutrition
Being overweight
Hormonal replacement or birth control medications
Abuse of anabolic steroid medications
Solitary thyroid nodules
Pituitary tumors
Cushing's syndrome (high levels of the hormone cortisol)
Addison's disease (low levels of cortisol and aldosterone)
Benign tumors and cysts (fluid-filled sacks) that affect the endocrine glands
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (low levels of cortisol)
Endocrine gland injury
Severe allergic reactions or infections
Cancers that involve endocrine glands
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
Iodine deficiency (goiters)
Hereditary pancreatitis
Turner syndrome (females with only one functioning x chromosome)
Prader-willi syndrome
Anorexia
Phytoestrogens, naturally-occurring plant estrogens found in soy products
Exposure to toxins, pollutants, and endocrine disrupting chemicals, including pesticides and herbicides
 
Hormonal imbalances in women
Women naturally experience several periods of hormonal imbalance throughout their lifetime, including during:
Puberty
Menstruation
Pregnancy, childbirth, and breast-feeding
Perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause
 
Hormonal imbalances in women
 
Women are also at risk of developing different types of hormonal imbalance disorders than men because they have different endocrine organs and cycles.
Medical conditions causing irregular hormonal imbalances in women include:
polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
hormone replacement or birth control medications
early menopause
primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)
ovarian cancer
 
Symptoms of hormonal imbalances in women include:
 
Heavy, irregular, or painful periods
Osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones)
Hot flashes and night sweats
Vaginal dryness
Breast tenderness
Indigestion
Constipation and diarrhea
Acne during or just before menstruation
Uterine bleeding not associated with menstruation
Increased hair growth on the face, neck, chest, or back
Infertility
Weight gain
Thinning hair or hair loss
Skin tags or abnormal growths
Deepening of the voice
Clitoral enlargement
 
Hormonal imbalances in men
Men also experience natural periods of hormonal imbalance during their lifetime.
Natural causes of hormonal imbalances in men include:
Puberty
Aging
Men are also at risk of developing different hormonal imbalances than women because they have different endocrine organs and cycles.
Medical conditions causing hormonal imbalances in men include:
Prostate cancer
Hypogonadism (low testosterone)
Symptoms of hormonal imbalances in men include:
Reduced sex drive
Erectile dysfunction (ed)
Low sperm count
Reduced muscle mass
Reduced body hair growth
Overdevelopment of breast tissue
Breast tenderness
Osteoporosis
 
Treatment
Treatment for hormonal imbalances may vary depending on the cause. Every person may require different types of treatment for hormonal imbalances.
Treatment options for women with hormone imbalances include:
Hormone control or birth control. For those who are not trying to get pregnant, medications containing forms of estrogen and progesterone can help regulate irregular menstrual cycles and symptoms. People can take birth control medications as a pill, ring, patch, shot, or an intrauterine device (IUD).
Vaginal estrogen. People experiencing vaginal dryness associated with changes in estrogen levels can apply creams containing estrogen directly to vaginal tissues to reduce symptoms. They can also use estrogen tablets and rings to reduce vaginal dryness.
Hormone replacement medications. Medications are available to temporarily reduce severe symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes or night sweats.
Eflornithine (Vaniqa). This prescription cream may slow excessive facial hair growth in women.
Anti-androgen medications. Medications that block the predominately male-sex hormone androgen can help limit severe acne and excessive hair growth or loss.
Clomiphene (Clomid) and letrozole (Femara). These medications help stimulate ovulation in people with PCOS who are trying to become pregnant. Those with PCOS and infertility may also be given injections of gonadotropins to help increase the chances of pregnancy.
Assisted reproductive technology. In vitro fertilization (IVF) may be used to help those with PCOS complications get pregnant.
Treatment options for anyone with hormonal imbalances include:
Metformin. A medication for type 2 diabetes, metformin can help manage or lower blood sugar levels.
Levothyroxine. Medications containing levothyroxine, such as Synthroid and Levothroid, can help improve symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Treatment options for men with hormonal imbalances include:
Testosterone medications. Gels and patches containing testosterone can help reduce symptoms of hypogonadism and other conditions that cause low levels of testosterone, such as delayed or stunted puberty.
 
Natural remedies
People have used natural supplements to treat hormonal imbalances for thousands of years.
However, there are no natural remedies that have been consistently proven in clinical studies to treat hormonal imbalances and their causes, aside from lifestyle changes.
 
Natural Remedies
 
Natural supplements commonly used for the reduction of symptoms associated with hormonal imbalances include:
 
Black cohosh, dong quai, red clover, and evening primrose oil for hot flashes caused by menopause
Ginseng for irritability, anxiousness, and sleep disturbances caused by menopause
Ginseng, and maca for ED
 
Lifestyle changes that may help reduce the likelihood and symptoms of hormonal imbalances include:
Maintaining a healthy body weight
Eating a nutritious and balanced diet
Exercising regularly
Practicing good personal hygiene, focusing on washing areas with a lot of natural oils, such as the face, neck, back, and chest
Using over-the-counter acne washes, rinses, and medicated creams or gels for minor to moderate acne
Avoiding triggers that cause hot flashes, such as warm weather and spicy, rich, or hot foods and drinks
Reducing and managing stress
Practicing yoga, meditation, or guided visualization
Limiting sugary foods and refined carbohydrates
Avoiding packaged foods
Replacing older non-stick pans with ceramic pans
Using glass containers to store and heat foods and drinks
Restricting the use of cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals, such as bleach
Buying fruits and vegetables that have not been sprayed with pesticides or ripening chemicals
Not microwaving foods and drinks in plastics
 
Outlook
Nearly everyone experiences at least one or two periods of hormonal imbalance during their lifetime.
Hormonal imbalances are more common during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy. But some people experience continual, irregular hormonal imbalances.
Many hormonal imbalances are caused by external factors, such as stress or hormone medications. However, hormonal imbalances can also be caused by any medical condition that impacts or involves the endocrine system or glands.
A person should speak to a doctor about long-term unexplained symptoms, especially those that cause pain, discomfort, or interfere with everyday activities.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Date: 8/14/2019

2019 August 14