Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. Produced in the endocrine glands, these powerful chemicals travel around your bloodstream telling tissues and organs what to do. They help control many of your body’s major processes, including metabolism and reproduction.
When you have a hormonal imbalance, you have too much or too little of a certain hormone. Even tiny changes can have serious effects throughout your whole body.
Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance
Your hormones play an integral role in your overall health. Because of that, there’s a broad range of symptoms that could signal a hormonal imbalance. Your symptoms will depend on which hormones or glands aren’t working properly.
Common hormonal conditions affecting both men and women could cause any of the following symptoms:
- weight gain
- increased sensitivity to cold or heat
- constipation or more frequent bowel movements
- dry skin
- puffy face
- unexplained weight loss (sometimes sudden)
- increased or decreased heart rate
- muscle weakness
- frequent urination
- increased thirst
- muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
- pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints
- thinning hair or fine, brittle hair
- increased hunger
- decreased sex drive
- nervousness, anxiety, or irritability
- blurred vision
- a fatty hump between the shoulders
- rounded face
- purple or pink stretch marks
Symptoms in women
In women, the most common hormonal imbalance is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Your normal hormonal cycle also changes naturally during:
Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance specific to women include:
- heavy or irregular periods, including missed periods, stopped period, or frequent period
- hirsutism, or excessive hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body
- acne on the face, chest, or upper back
- thinning hair or hair loss
- weight gain or trouble losing weight
- darkening of skin, especially along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
- skin tags
- vaginal dryness
- vaginal atrophy
- pain during sex
- night sweats
Symptoms in men
Testosterone plays an important role in male development. If you aren’t producing enough testosterone, it can cause a variety of symptoms.
In the adult male, symptoms include:
- development of breast tissue
- breast tenderness
- erectile dysfunction
- loss of muscle mass
- decreased sex drive
- decrease in beard and body hair growth
- osteoporosis, the loss of bone mass
- difficulty concentrating
- hot flashes
- growth rate doesn’t increase
Causes of a hormonal imbalance
There are many possible causes for a hormonal imbalance. Causes differ depending on which hormones or glands are affected. Common causes of hormonal imbalance include:
- hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid
- hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroid
- Cushing syndrome
- hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules
- hormone therapy
- tumors (benign or cancerous)
- congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- eating disorders
- adrenal insufficiency
- pituitary tumor
- injury or trauma
- cancer treatments
Causes unique to women
Many causes of hormonal imbalance in women are related to reproductive hormones. Common causes include:
- premature menopause
- hormone drugs like birth control pills
- primary ovarian insufficiency
Tests and diagnosis
There’s no single test available for doctors to diagnose a hormonal imbalance. Begin by making an appointment with your doctor for a physical exam. Be prepared to describe your symptoms and the timeline along which they’ve occurred. Bring a list of all medications, vitamins, and supplements you’re currently taking.
Your doctor may ask you questions such as:
- How often are you experiencing symptoms?
- Does anything help relieve your symptoms?
- Have you lost or gained weight recently?
- Are you more stressed than usual?
- When was your last period?
- Are you planning to get pregnant?
- Do you have trouble getting or maintaining an erection?
- Do you have vaginal dryness or pain during sex?
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may suggest one or more diagnostic tests. You can also ask your doctor to perform these tests.
Your doctor will send a sample of your blood to a lab for testing. Most hormones can be detected in the blood. A doctor can use a blood test to check your thyroid, estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol levels.
If you’re female,your doctor may perform a pap smear to feel for any unusual lumps, cysts, or tumors. If you’re male, your doctor may check your scrotum for any lumps or abnormalities.
An ultrasound machine uses sound waves to look inside your body. Doctors may use an ultrasound to get images of the uterus, ovaries, testicles, thyroid, or pituitary gland.
Sometimes more advanced tests are required. These can include:
- thyroid scan
- sperm count
12 Natural Ways to Balance Your Hormones
1. Eat Enough Protein at Every Meal
2. Engage in Regular Exercise
3. Avoid Sugar and Refined Carbs
4. Learn to Manage Stress
5. Consume Healthy Fats
6. Avoid Overeating and Undereating
7. Drink Green Tea
8. Eat Fatty Fish Often
9. Get Consistent, High-Quality Sleep
10. Stay Away From Sugary Beverages
11. Consume a High-Fiber Diet
12. Eat Eggs Anytime