What Are the Signs of Hormonal Imbalance?
When most people hear the word “hormones” they think of estrogen and testosterone, the main sex hormones. But the body’s endocrine system produces a wide variety of hormones which control most major bodily functions, from hunger and heart rate to mood and reproduction. When hormone levels are imbalanced, it can negatively affect the entire body. (For example, too much cortisol – the “stress hormone” – can lead to adrenal fatigue.) So what are the signs of hormonal imbalance and what treatments are available?
What Are the Signs of Hormonal Imbalance?
The most common hormone deficiencies are found in the sex hormones – estrogen, progesterone, testosterone – and the thyroid. The signs of hormonal imbalance can range from mild or moderate to severe and debilitating.
The main sex hormone in women is estrogen, which causes puberty, prepares the body and uterus for pregnancy, and regulates the menstrual cycle. Progesterone is a secondary female sex hormone that also plays a key role in pregnancy and the menstrual cycle. Decreased levels of estrogen during menopause cause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, bone loss, and emotional instability. Estrogen deficiency in women can also cause:
- Decreased memory and attention span
- Decreased libido
- Difficulty sleeping
- Dry skin and wrinkles
- Elevated cholesterol
- Hot flashes
- Increased weight gain, particularly in the hip and abdominal areas
- Shortness of breath
- Vaginal dryness and itching
Symptoms of progesterone imbalance in women include:
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Fluid retention
- Heavy or irregular menstrual cycles
- Mood swings
- Sleep disturbances
Testosterone, the main male sex hormone, causes puberty, facial hair growth, muscle mass growth and strength, and increases bone density. Testosterone levels decline naturally in men as they age, but abnormally low levels of testosterone can cause symptoms such as:
- Body and facial hair loss
- Decreased effectiveness of workouts
- Decreased morning erections
- Decreased muscle mass
- Difficulty concentrating
- Fatigue and poor energy level
- Longer recovery time between erections and orgasms
- Loss of drive and competitive edge
- Low sense of well-being
- Pain and stiffness in joints
- Reduced libido and erectile function
The thyroid is a small gland in the neck that helps regulate metabolism, heart rate, body weight, muscle strength, and other vital bodily functions. Over 12% of people will have some sort of thyroid problem in their lifetime, and thyroid disorders are far more common among women than men. The thyroid can become imbalanced and produce either too little or too much of the thyroid hormones. Symptoms of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) include:
- Difficulty gaining weight
- Feeling nervous and emotional
- Heart palpitations
- Increased pulse rate, even at rest
- Inward trembling
- Night sweats
Symptoms of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) include:
- Depression and lack of motivation
- Difficult, infrequent bowel movements
- Dryness of skin and/or scalp
- Feeling cold (in hands, feet, or all over)
- Feeling tired or sluggish
- Gaining weight easily, even when adhering to a low-calorie diet
- Mental sluggishness
- Morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses
- Require excessive amounts of sleep to function well
- Thinning of hair on scalp, face, or genitals, or excessive hair loss
Approximately 90% of hypothyroid cases are the result of an autoimmune disorder known as Hashimoto’s. Patients with Hashimoto’s can swing back and forth between overactive and underactive symptoms as a flare up that damages thyroid tissue causes excess thyroid hormone to spill into the bloodstream.
How is Hormone Imbalance Treated?
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) uses hormones derived from natural sources – such as soybeans or yams – to restore your hormones to normal levels. Since the bioidentical hormones have the same type of chemical makeup as the human body, it is easier for your body to absorb the hormones and reduces side effects.
If you are experiencing signs of hormone imbalance, call Anchor Wellness Center today at (832) 246-8437 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Malhotra. Board Certified in Family Medicine as well as Board Certified with the American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, Dr. Malhotra will develop a personalized treatment plan to help you regain optimal health.