Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. Produced in the endocrine glands, these powerful chemicals travel around your bloodstream.
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.
Think of hormones like a cake recipe. Too much or too little of any one ingredient affects the final product.
Some hormone levels fluctuate throughout your lifetime and may just be the result of natural aging. But other changes occur when your endocrine glands get the recipe wrong.
Read on to learn more about hormonal imbalances and how they might be affecting your health.
Signs and symptoms of a hormonal imbalance
Your hormones play an integral role in your overall health. As a result, there’s a broad range of signs and symptoms that could signal a hormonal imbalance. Your signs or symptoms will depend on which hormones or glands are not working properly.
Common hormonal conditions affecting people of all genders could cause any of the following signs or symptoms:
- weight gain;
- a hump of fat between the shoulders;
- unexplained and sometimes sudden weight loss;
- muscle weakness;
- muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness;
- pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints;
- increased or decreased heart rate;
- increased sensitivity to cold or heat;
- constipation or more frequent bowel movements;
- frequent urination;
- increased thirst;
- increased hunger;
- decreased sex drive;
- nervousness, anxiety, or irritability;
- blurred vision;
- thinning hair or fine, brittle hair;
- dry skin;
- puffy face;
- rounded face;
- purple or pink stretch marks.
Keep in mind that these symptoms are nonspecific. Having one or a few of them doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a hormonal imbalance.
Some of these symptoms may also reflect other chronic conditions. So, if you find yourself dealing with any notable changes in your body or energy levels, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor.
Signs or symptoms in people who were assigned female at birth (AFAB)
In people with ovaries, the most common consequence of hormonal imbalance is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Your hormonal cycle also changes naturally during these stages:
Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance specific to AFAB people include:
- heavy or irregular periods, including missed periods, stopped periods, or frequent periods;
- hirsutism, or excessive hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body;
- acne on the face, chest, or upper back;
- hair loss;
- hyperpigmentation, especially along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath the breasts;
- skin tags;
- vaginal dryness;
- vaginal atrophy;
- pain during sex;
- night sweats;
It’s important to note that many of these issues, including hirsutism, can affect people of other sexes, too.
Signs or symptoms in people who were assigned male at birth (AMAB)
Testosterone plays an important role in development. If you aren’t producing enough testosterone, it can cause a variety of symptoms.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance in AMAB people include:
- gynecomastia, or the development of breast tissue;
- breast tenderness;
- erectile dysfunction (ED);
- decrease in beard growth and body hair growth;
- loss of muscle mass;
- loss of bone mass, otherwise known as osteoporosis;
- difficulty concentrating;
- hot flashes.
It’s important to note that AFAB folks can also experience testosterone imbalances.
Causes of a hormonal imbalance
A hormonal imbalance has many possible causes. They can differ depending on which hormones or glands are affected.
Common causes of hormonal imbalance include:
- hormone therapy;
- cancer treatments such as chemotherapy;
- tumors, whether cancerous or benign;
- pituitary tumors;
- eating disorders;
- injury or trauma.
While hormonal imbalances may initially cause some of the conditions below, having these conditions can also lead to further hormonal imbalances:
- type 1 and type 2 diabetes;
- diabetes insipidus;
- hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid;
- hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid;
- hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules;
- Cushing syndrome, or high levels of cortisol;
- congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which causes low levels of cortisol and aldosterone;
- Addison’s disease.
We offer hormone replacement therapies for men and women based on comprehensive diagnostics and blood tests. To learn more, get in touch!