Hormones are chemicals that function as tiny messengers between organs and tissues in our bodies. Basically, they tell our organs and tissues what to do. This is called the endocrine system. Some hormones that are produced by the endocrine system are: adrenaline, cortisol, estrogen, insulin, melatonin, oxytocin, testosterone,thyroid hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, glucagon, prolactine, luteinizing hormone, parathyroid hormone, and progesterone. When you have too much or too little of a certain hormone, you have a hormonal imbalance. Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance are not pleasant and can sometimes be mistaken for other issues.
This is the reason why I am including this topic on my website. Some symptoms appear to be mental health issues when in fact they can be a consequence of a hormonal imbalance. That’s why it is important to see a doctor and avoid self-diagnosis.
The following are common symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, for men and women:
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
- Frequent urination
- Muscle weakness
- Decreased sex drive
- Increased hunger
- Increased thirst
Some of these can undeniably be mistaken for symptoms of another condition. A doctor consultation can save you months of misdiagnosis, pain, confusion, and wrong self-medication. A hormonal imbalance isn’t always the first thing that comes to mind when you present any of those symptoms, so it is easy to conclude something else.
The following are symptoms for a female hormonal imbalance:
- Heavy or irregular periods, frequent periods, missed periods, stopped periods
- Excessive hair on face, chin, or other parts of the body
- Weight gain
- Trouble losing weight
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings
- Problems with blood sugar
- Night sweats
Symptoms for a male hormonal imbalance
- Low energy
- Decreased sexual performance
- Weight gain
- Brain fog
- Abnormal heart conditions
- Decreased bone density
- Elevated blood sugar
- Low mood
- Inability to maintain muscle mass
A hormonal imbalance can occur as early as in a man’s early thirties. For both men and women, puberty is a big culprit behind hormonal changes (we all know about that one, don’t we?). Women experience strong hormonal changes during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause as well.
What Causes a Hormonal Imbalance?
Extreme stress or stress that is ongoing for years will certainly have an effect; it is a major factor which may unbalance cortisol (this hormone plays an important role in stress response).
Certain lifestyle factors may also cause a hormonal imbalance.
Other causes can be: hormone medication (abuse of steroids, for example); type 1 and 2 diabetes; poor nutrition; being overweight; anorexia; exposure to toxins, pollutants, and endocrine disrupting chemicals; severe allergic reactions or infections; hormonal replacement or birth control pills; poor diet; and other medical conditions, such as under active or overactive thyroid, solitary thyroid nodules, pituitary tumors, Addison’s Disease, Cushing’s Syndrome, benign tumors and cysts, cancers that involve endocrine glands, iodine deficiency, hereditary pancreatis, …
Having too much or too little of one hormone can have serious consequences for the body. It literally unbalances you. You may go through irritable moments or mood swings you cannot explain, you may feel like you want to lash out at someone before you get a hold of yourself. You feel bloated as if you were pregnant. It could be anything, but the ramifications are felt throughout the body.
When we experience any of the above mentioned symptoms, I believe that most of us – myself included – do not always think of a small chemical in our body that suddenly got things wrong and may be behind those profound changes in us, (unless you’re going through pregnancy, puberty, menopause, or you are breastfeeding). For some it can take months before the finger is finally pointed at the real offender.
As tiny as these hormones are, they do affect our bodies. This is why it is important to let your doctor get to the bottom of this.