Hormone Imbalance: Symptoms, Causes And Tests

Hormone Imbalance: Symptoms, Causes And Tests

What is a hormonal imbalance?

Hormones are our body’s chemical messengers that are produced by the endocrine glands. They travel around our blood stream and tell the organs and tissues what they need to do. They help to control various vital processes of the body including reproduction and metabolism. When our body produces too much or too little of a hormone, it is referred to as a hormonal imbalance. Any imbalance of the hormones makes a huge difference to the body.

Imagine these hormones as ingredients of a dish. If any of the ingredients is added more or less than the required quantity, it can make a huge difference to the final product. Although some hormone levels keep on fluctuating throughout our lives, as a result of the natural process of aging; some others change when the endocrine glands mix the ingredients in the incorrect amount. Let’s find out the hormone imbalance symptoms.

 

Hormone Imbalance Symptoms

Hormones help to regulate various important bodily processes such as:

  • Heart rate
  • Sleep cycles
  • Body temperature
  • Reproductive cycles
  • Metabolism
  • Stress levels
  • Appetite
  • Sexual function
  • Moods
  • General growth & development

Since our hormones play an integral role in our overall health, any imbalance is indicated by several symptoms in the body. The symptoms will largely depend upon which hormone is in excess or scanty or which gland is malfunctioning.

Some of the most common hormone imbalance symptoms are:

  • Gain in weight
  • Fatigue
  • Dry skin
  • Sudden or unexplained weight loss
  • Increased sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Puffy face
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Increased or decreased heart rate
  • Increased thirst
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Muscle weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Frequent urination
  • Tenderness, pain and stiffness in muscles
  • Infertility
  • Increased hunger
  • Hair thinning or hair loss
  • Pain, swelling and stiffness of joints
  • Excessive sweating
  • Pink or purple stretch marks
  • Nervousness, irritability or anxiety
  • Depression
  • A fatty hump between the shoulders

 

Hormone Imbalance Symptoms in Women

The most common hormone imbalance that women suffer from is PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

Apart from this, women experience changes in their hormones during:

  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding and
  • Menopause

 

Hormone Imbalance Symptoms that are only seen in women include:

  • Irregular periods, heavy bleeding
  • Stopped, missed or frequent periods
  • Acne on the face, chest area and back
  • Excessive hair on the face & chin (Hirsutism)
  • Weight gain
  • Trouble losing weight
  • Pain while having sex
  • Hair loss and/or hair thinning
  • Vaginal Atrophy
  • Night sweats
  • Darkening of the skin in the groin, along neck creases and underneath the breasts
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Skin tags

 

Hormone Imbalance Symptoms in Men

The hormone that is responsible for development in males is the testosterone hormone. In case, a man’s body isn’t producing enough of it, the following symptoms can be seen in an adult male:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Development of breast tissue
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Breast tenderness
  • Infertility
  • Hot flashes
  • Decrease in body hair growth and beard
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Loss of muscle mass
  • Loss of bone mass, osteoporosis

 

Hormone Imbalance Symptoms in Children

Boys and girls start producing sex hormones when they attain puberty but in some children, puberty gets delayed. However, these children experience a normal puberty. Some children may experience hypogonadism, in which the body doesn’t produce enough of the reproductive hormones.

 

Here are the symptoms of hypogonadism in girls:

  • Periods do not begin
  • Growth rate doesn’t increase
  • Breast tissue does not develop

 

Here are the symptoms of hypogonadism in boys:

  • Penis and testicular growth is impaired
  • Muscles mass doesn’t develop
  • Gynecomastia, the development of breast tissue
  • Voice doesn’t deepen
  • Excessive growth of the arms and legs in relation to the trunk of the body
  • Body hair grows sparsely

 

Causes of a Hormone Imbalance

The causes of hormonal imbalances depend upon the gland or hormone that is affected.

The most common causes of hormonal imbalances are:

  • Diabetes
  • Eating disorders
  • Thyroiditis
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Hyperthyroidism – overactive thyroid
  • Hypothyroidism – underactive thyroid
  • Cushing syndrome
  • Tumors – cancerous or benign)
  • Pituitary tumor
  • Hypogonadism
  • Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules
  • Medications
  • Cancer treatments
  • Hormone therapy
  • Stress
  • Trauma or injury

 

Hormone Imbalance Test

Although there are no specific hormone imbalance tests that can diagnose an imbalance, you must consult your doctor and let him/her know the symptoms experienced by you. Share your medical history, allergies, any supplements or medications that you’re taking. Most doctors would begin by a physical examination and ask you some questions about the frequency of the symptoms, weight gain/loss, whether you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, low sex drive, stress etc.

 

Based on your answers and symptoms, your doctor may or may not prescribe the following tests to make a diagnosis:

  • Pap smear (for women)
  • Examination of scrotum (for men)
  • Blood tests
  • Ultrasound
  • Thyroid scan
  • Biopsy
  • Sperm count (for men)
  • X-ray
  • MRI

The treatment of your problem will depend upon the diagnosis of these hormone imbalance tests.

 

Click here to know more about hormone imbalance symptoms and signs

 

 

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