What is Hormone Imbalance?

Original article from Healthline.com

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.

Think of hormones like a cake recipe. Too much or too little of any one ingredient affects the final product. While some hormone levels fluctuate throughout your lifetime and may just be the result of natural aging, other changes occur when your endocrine glands get the recipe wrong. 

Symptoms of Hormone 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

  • fatigue

  • 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

  • depression

  • decreased sex drive

  • nervousness, anxiety, or irritability

  • blurred vision

  • sweating

  • infertility

  • 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:

  • puberty

  • pregnancy

  • breastfeeding

  • menopause

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

  • infertility

  • decrease in beard and body hair growth

  • osteoporosis, the loss of bone mass

  • difficulty concentrating

  • hot flashes