Feeling bloated, fatigued, irritable, in a low mood, or generally out of shape? Such symptoms are extremely common when you’re experiencing hormonal imbalance.
Don’t let the term scare you, though. Nearly everyone goes through periods of hormonal imbalance at least once or twice during their lifetime. Puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, stress, and injury, are among the contributing factors.
Before we carry on, note that only a medical test can confirm you have hormonal imbalance.
With this being said, we’ll be going through the most common hormonal imbalance symptoms to help you identify it sooner and know when it’s time to seek treatment.
This article covers the following:
- What Is Hormonal Imbalance?
- Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
- What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
- How Do I Know If I Have a Hormonal Imbalance?
- How to Fix Hormonal Imbalance
What Is Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormones are molecules produced by your endocrine system, responsible for regulating almost all your bodily functions. They control your hunger, sex drive, stress levels, blood pressure, and even tell your body how to breathe and when to spend energy.
Now, due to their vital role, it’s normal for our bodies to experience hormonal shifts throughout the day. For example, after a meal, your pancreas produces insulin, a peptide hormone that regulates your fats, carbohydrate, and protein levels. Or when you’re trying to get a good night’s sleep, your pineal gland produces melatonin to help you sleep faster.
These are examples of healthy, necessary hormone fluctuations that your body needs to function.
It’s when there’s too much or too little of a specific hormone, that you experience hormonal imbalance symptoms. All it takes is one hormone in your glands to be out of line for all others to be affected, quickly creating a vicious cycle that leaves you feeling unwell.
When it comes to hormonal imbalance, “unwell” can mean a lot of things. Sometimes symptoms are light, such as a slight headache, fatigue, or bloating. If left untreated, health issues can become more concerning, and cause insomnia due to the hormonal imbalance, sudden weight shifts, changes in libido, and increased sensitivity. In turn, these issues can influence your comfort, concentration, job performance, and relationships with friends and family.
To better identify the symptoms of hormonal imbalance, let’s look at the most common signs of hormonal imbalance in women, men, and children.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
Although women are more susceptible to hormonal imbalance, both genders can experience imbalance in insulin, steroids, growth hormones, and adrenaline. Teenagers are also likely to experience temporary hormonal imbalance when going through puberty, as the adolescent brain starts producing adrenal, sex, and growth hormones to influence brain development.
Here are some of the most common hormonal imbalance symptoms in women, men, and kids.
Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms in Women
Female hormonal imbalance causes a range of symptoms, depending on which hormones or glands aren’t working properly.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Unexpected weight changes. Excessive weight gain is one of the most common signs of hormonal imbalance in women. This happens as a result of the high levels of estrogen, cortisol, and insulin, and low levels of thyroxine, which lead to extra belly fat that’s difficult to lose.
- Irregular menstrual cycle. Women who experience irregular periods may have developed a hormonal imbalance. This is also known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is a hormonal disorder common amongst women of childbearing age.
- Low libido. Although a variety of external factors influence the desire for sex, low estrogen levels can too. This causes painful sex due to vaginal dryness, mood shifts, breast tenderness, and fatigue.
- Hair loss. A lot of people lose some hair daily and anywhere from 50 to 100 strands of hair loss daily is considered normal. Losing more than that can be a sign of an underlying hormonal imbalance. Specifically, hair loss can come from low thyroid function, an increase in cortisol stress hormones, or PCOS.
- Fatigue. Adrenal fatigue goes beyond feeling a little tired or overworked. An underactive thyroid can cause your body processes to slow down, and result in fatigue, depression, and even memory problems.
- Persistent acne. Hormonal acne can affect adults of any age, but it’s especially common for women during menstruation, menopause, and puberty.
- Night sweats. During perimenopause, one of the most common symptoms is hot flash - a feeling of warmth in the upper body, which causes night sweats. Almost 50% of women who are in perimenopause report hot flashes that last from 5 to 10 minutes, especially during the night.
- Infertility. Hormonal imbalance is a leading cause of infertility in women, as it can disrupt ovulation, prevent the thickening of the uterine lining, and thus, prevent pregnancy.
- Headaches. An abundance of factors may trigger headaches, but low estrogen levels are a common cause in women. If headaches occur routinely, or right before the beginning of your period, then it’s likely that an estrogen imbalance could be the trigger.
- Thinning bones. Losing estrogen after menopause is often associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis - a disorder that causes bones to become weak and easily damaged.
- Digestive problems. Sex hormones affect gut function, and the level of bacteria in your gut, which can lead to symptoms such as bloating, nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.
Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms in Men
Men can experience hormonal imbalance at any age, even during their early 30s. Stress, injury, illness, poor dieting and nutrition, insufficient exercise, and a variety of other factors can be the cause.
These are some of the most typical signs of hormonal imbalance in men:
- Mood swings. Just like in women, mood changes can be a symptom of hormonal imbalance. Men's testosterone levels decrease as they age, causing them to become more moody, irritable, and less motivated.
- Difficulty sleeping. Sleep apnea, or the interruption or difficulty of breathing while sleeping, is linked to low testosterone levels. It affects about 9% of male adults and is more prevalent in obese individuals.
- Low energy. Thyroid hormones are responsible for regulating energy production in every cell of the human body. So, when your thyroid hormone levels aren't balanced, your body produces less energy. As a result, you work at a slower pace and may experience fatigue, brain fog, and low mood.
- Low muscle mass. Testosterone is responsible for muscle growth and repair. You may experience muscle fatigue (loss of mass) or weight gain if your testosterone levels decrease.
- Loss of libido. Although low libido is frequently associated with relationship problems, stress, or exhaustion, it might also indicate an underlying medical problem, such as low hormone levels.
- Erectile dysfunction. Although erectile dysfunction and difficulty to maintain an erection during sexual activity are influenced by many factors, hormonal imbalance is also known to commonly interfere with sexual performance in men.
- Gynecomastia is a condition that can result in the overdevelopment or underdevelopment of breast tissue in men or boys. It’s usually caused by an imbalance between estrogen and testosterone - there’s an overproduction of estrogen, and breast growth increases, while muscle mass and body hair growth decrease.
Hormonal Imbalance Symptoms in Children
Hormones play an important part in a child's development and overall health, so if any of their endocrine glands malfunctions, the consequences on a child's health can be serious.
Hypogonadism is one of the most common hormonal imbalance for both girls and boys, occurring when sex glands produce little to no sex hormones.
For teenage girls, the condition causes the following symptoms:
- The menstruation cycle doesn’t begin
- Slow, or absent breast tissue development
- Hot flashes
- Low or no sex drive
While teenage boys tend to experience:
- No muscle mass development
- Loss of body hair
- Abnormal breast growth
- Low or no sex drive
- Reduced penis and testicle growth
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
Some of the most common causes of hormonal imbalance in both men and women include:
- Increased levels of stress upset your hormones and result in mood swings, irritability, decreases in libido, and irregular menstrual cycles.
- Injury or trauma causes insufficient levels of adrenal, which can lead to fatigue, dehydration, and hormone imbalance weight loss.
- Substances and drugs like alcohol, steroids, and tobacco damage your endocrine system and result in hormonal imbalance.
- Aging. In different stages of your life, your hormones will act and respond differently. It’s natural to experience hormonal imbalance during puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation.
- Poor eating habits. Not getting the right amount of nutrients and vitamins, consuming empty calories, or developing eating disorders stimulates the production of your stress hormones, causing higher levels of stress, sleep issues, depression, and an increased heart rate.
- Hormone therapy, commonly known as androgen suppression therapy, is used to treat prostate cancer and reduces male hormones to stop them from fueling cancerous cells.
Certain medical conditions are also known to result in hormonal imbalance, such as:
- Diabetes (both type 1 and 2)
- Benign and cancerous tumors
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism
- Cushing’s syndrome
- Addison’s disease
Hormonal Imbalance Causes Unique for Women
Certain factors and conditions cause hormonal imbalance specific to women. These include:
- Menopause and premature menopause
- Birth control pills
Hormonal Imbalance Causes Unique for Men
Puberty and aging are the main causes of hormonal imbalance in men. They’re also at risk of developing certain medical conditions, such as:
- Prostate concerns
- Male infertility
For a more in-depth guide on the main reasons and causes of hormonal imbalance, you can head over to our blog post on what causes hormone imbalance.
How Do I Know If I Have a Hormonal Imbalance?
The only way to officially diagnose a hormonal imbalance is by making an appointment with your doctor for a physical examination.
A blood test is the most common way to detect a hormonal imbalance. However, you’ll need to properly disclose all of your symptoms to the doctor, for them to test you for the right hormones. So, be prepared to answer questions related to the hormonal imbalance symptoms you’re experiencing, how long they have been occurring, and what type of medications or hormone balance pills you’re currently taking.
Doctors can also determine whether you have a hormonal imbalance by performing a pelvic exam to check for any unusual lumps, cysts, or tumors. If you’re a male, alternatively, your doc will be checking your scrotum for any lumps or deformities.
Other additional tests include ultrasounds, biopsies, X-rays, thyroid scans, sperm count tests, and at-home testing kits.
How to Fix Hormonal Imbalance
The treatment for your hormonal imbalance ultimately depends on the exact hormone that’s out of balance, as well as the underlying issue that’s causing it. Often, hormone imbalance can be treated by simple changes in diet and exercise, but some cases require a prolonged course of medications.
Here are some of the most common medical treatment options for hormonal imbalance:
- Estrogen therapy is a hormone replacement therapy that contains female hormones. It’s usually used to treat common menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
- Anti-androgen medications have been used for over 30 years to treat hormonal acne and exercise body hair - they block androgen receptors and suppress androgen production.
- Testosterone therapy increases muscle mass, which helps control weight and increase energy. It can be done in the form of injections, pellets, patches, or gels.
- Thyroid therapy is used when natural thyroid levels in the body are extremely low. It’s typically a pill that treats an underactive thyroid and stimulates the secretion of thyroid hormones.
- Birth control regulates menstrual cycles, helps improve acne, and reduces hair on the face and body.
Natural remedies and fixes for hormonal imbalance include:
- A hormone balanced diet contains food rich in nutrition such as salmon, seaweed, bell peppers, avocados, probiotics, and more. It’s also crucial that proteins, fiber, and other healthy fats are part of your diet, as consuming the right amount of protein suppresses your appetite and helps you feel full during the day.
- Drinking green tea. Green tea is widely known as one of the healthiest drinks out there - for a very good reason. The drink is filled with antioxidants and metabolism-boosting ingredients linked to various health benefits that can help you balance your hormones naturally. Additionally, research suggests that consuming green tea increases insulin sensitivity and lowers insulin levels. If you like drinking tea, you can check out our full guide on the top ten herbal hormone balance teas for women.
- Regular exercising boosts your serotonin, estrogen, and testosterone levels, increasing your mood, sex drive, memory, and overall health.
- Avoid sugar and refined carbs. Studies show that high sugar intake is linked to insulin resistance. Avoiding the amount of sugar and refined carbs in your diet can help you decrease insulin levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and avoid diabetes, obesity, and other diseases.
Take vitamins and supplements. While a balanced diet is important for your overall health, sometimes additional hormone balance supplements may be required to cover nutritional deficiencies that may be creating the hormonal imbalance. Here are some of our top supplement recommendations to fix hormonal imbalance:
- Go With The Flow is a natural supplement that includes four powerful hormone-balancing herbs and is designed to help with PMS, PCOS, and menopause hormone imbalance. It has been shown to promote mental and emotional relaxation, hormone balance, and the reduction of annoying physical symptoms (acne, bloating, tenderness).
- Ashwagandha Root is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years to alleviate anxiety symptoms and enhance overall hormone balance. It lowers cortisol levels, protects your immune system from stressors, strengthens your immune system, and accelerates stress recovery.
- Organic Maca is well known for providing long-lasting energy, mental calmness, and estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone balance. It also helps to treat menopause symptoms and improves fertility, a healthy reproductive system, and libido.
Hormonal imbalance symptoms vary depending on your age, gender, genetics, lifestyle habits, and medical conditions. Hormonal imbalance in women are more common and signs typically include irregular menstrual cycles, low libido, fatigue, persistent acne, and infertility.
For men, hormonal imbalance symptoms usually include low energy, difficulty sleeping, erectile dysfunction, and gynecomastia. The good news is, there’s plenty of ways you can fix hormonal imbalance, both naturally or by using medical treatments. Regular exercising, a nutrient-rich diet, and daily vitamin intake can go a long way in normalizing your hormone levels.