What Causes Hormone Imbalance? Symptoms & Remedies
Drowsiness, restlessness, loss of hair, chest pains, mood swings, sugar level problems, trouble focusing, and infertility are only some of the signs of a hormonal imbalance.
When you have a hormone imbalance, there’s either too much or too little of a hormone within your bloodstream. And because of the essential role that hormones play in your body, even the smallest hormonal imbalance can have a huge impact on your health.
The reasons behind a hormone imbalance vary from stress, poor dieting, injury, and trauma, to more severe underlying issues such as diabetes, Addison’s disease, or thyroiditis.
We’ll be covering all the possible causes of a hormone imbalance, the key symptoms you should look out for, and what remedy options you need to seek, depending on your specific hormone imbalance.
This is an in-depth guide on:
- What Is Hormone Imbalance?
- What Are the Main Causes of Hormone Imbalance?
- What Are the 10+ Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance?
- 7+ Natural Remedies for Hormonal Imbalance
What Is Hormone Imbalance?
When we think of “hormones”, we usually think of sex hormones like testosterone or estrogen. However, there are currently more than 50 different types of hormones ‘working’ inside our bodies.
Our hormones are responsible for almost every single one of our bodily functions. Your stress response relies upon the adrenal glands secreting hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. The sensation of feeling hungry is your stomach working and secreting ghrelin, the hormone that encourages appetite. Even your metabolism relies on the thyroid gland’s hormones and the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin.
We don’t notice our hormones’ importance when they’re in balance, because they’re in sync and our body is alive and healthy. It’s when they’re imbalanced that health issues start taking over the organism. Specifically, what happens is that there’s too much or too little of a specific hormone, resulting in a hormone imbalance.
Although general causes bring about hormone imbalance, such as stress or a poor diet, reasons usually vary depending on the gender, age, and genetics of the person who’s going through it.
To confirm the source and extent of your hormonal imbalance, you’ll need to set up an appointment with a healthcare professional and go through conclusive tests that can check your hormones effectively.
We wouldn’t recommend a self-diagnosis, as it could lead to picking the wrong remedies and doing more harm than good.
Now, with this being said, let’s go through some of the main causes, conditions, and risk factors likely to cause a hormone imbalance.
Want to improve your hormone balance by changing up the food you eat? Check out our full guide to a healthy hormone balance diet!
What Are the Main Causes of Hormone Imbalance?
Most Common Hormone Imbalance Causes
There’s a variety of factors that can cause a hormone imbalance. They differ depending on the affected types of hormones or glands.
Some of the most common causes of hormonal imbalance include:
- Hormone therapy, or androgen suppression therapy, reduces the levels of male hormones to stop them from fueling cancerous cells.
- Substances and drugs, such as alcohol, steroids, tobacco, damage the endocrine system and thus, your hormonal cycles.
- Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy don’t just kill cancer cells, but they also affect healthy cells and disturb your hormone balance. They’re usually associated with changes in sexual health and lower libido.
- Eating disorders can stimulate the production of stress hormones, which result in a high level of stress, sleep issues, increased heart rate, depression, and panic.
- Too much stress can upset your hormones and trigger mood irritability, an irregular menstrual cycle, as well as a decreased libido in both men and women.
- Injury or trauma causes adrenal insufficiency, meaning that adrenal glands don’t produce enough hormones, which results in fatigue, hormone imbalance weight loss, and dehydration. These symptoms could appear right after the injury, or months later, and can become life-threatening if not treated properly.
Conditions That Can Cause Hormone Imbalance
Certain medical conditions are known to impact some or multiple glands that are part of your endocrine system. These conditions include:
- Diabetes (type 1 and 2). The cells responsible for producing insulin and amylin are absent, or malfunctioning, in people suffering from type 1 and 2 diabetes. The body can’t use insulin properly, either, which builds up glucose in the blood.
- Tumors, both cancerous or benign.
- Pituitary tumors can cause your pituitary gland to produce lower levels of hormones.
- PCOS stands for polycystic ovary syndrome, which is a common hormonal disorder amongst women during their reproductive age. It causes infrequent or prolonged periods, excess androgen levels, and an inability of the ovaries to regularly release eggs.
- Hypothyroidism is a condition that causes your thyroid gland to not produce enough thyroid hormone.
- Hyperthyroidism does the opposite, meaning it’s a condition that causes your body to produce too much thyroid hormone.
- Thyroiditis is the inflammation of your thyroid gland and can either produce too much or too little thyroid.
- Cushing’s syndrome is a disorder that makes your body produce too much cortisol, over an extended period.
- Addison’s disease is an adrenal deficiency that occurs when the adrenal glands produce too little cortisol or aldosterone.
Causes of Hormone Imbalance Unique to Women
For women specifically, hormone levels fluctuate due to certain conditions, such as:
- Menopause. During menopause, a woman’s body goes through major hormonal shifts, decreasing the number of hormones it produces - specifically estrogen and progesterone.
- Premature menopause.
- Menstruation. During ovulation, your body releases an egg, causing estrogen and progesterone hormone levels to drop. These changes influence your serotonin levels, hormones linked to feelings of sadness, irritability, food cravings, and sleep issues.
- Pregnancy. During pregnancy, women experience drastic and sudden increases in estrogen and progesterone. These changes peak during the third trimester, or at around 32 weeks into the pregnancy.
- Breastfeeding can cause a decrease of the prolactin hormone, also known as the milk-making hormone. This hormone’s levels stay high while you're breastfeeding, but as the baby starts eating solids, it eventually decreases.
- Birth control pills upset your natural hormonal balance as they contain synthetic versions of estrogen and progestin that suppress ovulation.
Causes of Hormone Imbalance Unique to Men
Hormonal imbalance isn't limited to women, as it’s natural for men to also experience hormonal changes during their lifetime.
The natural causes of hormone imbalance in men include puberty and aging.
During puberty, testosterone increases and brings about male traits, such as a deeper voice, facial hair, and muscle development. Then, male growth hormones tend to steadily decrease up until the age of 20. By the time they’re 40, most men are able to maintain only half of their original growth hormones, and by 80, they only possess 5%.
As far as medical issues go, men are usually at risk of developing the following:
- Prostate concerns, including enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.
- Hypogonadism, or permanently low testosterone production, which slows down masculine growth and development during puberty.
- Male infertility is the inability to produce adequate reproductive sperm, which can result from a hormone deficiency.
What Are the 10+ Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance?
Sign #1: Weight Fluctuations
You eat healthy, exercise, get enough hours of sleep, but you still gain weight no matter how hard you try. Or maybe you begin to unexpectedly lose weight, although nothing in your daily routine has changed.
If you’re experiencing sudden weight changes, a hormonal imbalance could be to blame. For women, there’s a number of hormone-related conditions that can cause weight fluctuations, such as an underactive or overactive thyroid, PCOS, and menopause.
For men, it’s usually due to testosterone deficiency, which decreases muscle growth, mood, energy, while leading to weight gain.
Sign #2: Trouble Sleeping
Rapid changes in thyroid, testosterone, cortisol, progesterone, melatonin, and/or growth hormones can all provoke sleep issues.
In women, sleeping problems are frequently caused by either an excess of estrogen or a deficiency of progesterone. Because estrogen stimulates the mind while progesterone relaxes it, estrogen and progesterone must be balanced for a good night's sleep to occur.
In men, sleep issues arise from elevated cortisol levels, which reduce testosterone production.
For strategies on how to get your hormones and sleep back on track, you can head over to our guide on hormone balance and insomnia.
Sign #3: Blood Pressure Changes
Hormones send messages controlling your heart’s blood output, the stiffness of your arteries, and your blood volume fluctuations. So, for instance, when you’re in a stressful situation and in need of more blood and oxygen, your body releases adrenaline to regulate your needs.
Sign #4: Chronic Acne
During puberty, hormonal acne usually develops in the T-zone, so in your forehead, nose, and chin. Whereas hormonal adult acne appears on the lower part of your face - your cheeks and jawline.
Sign #5: Anxiety and Depression
Your mental health and hormones are connected. The endocrine system works jointly with your nervous system to create a sense of physiological equilibrium. When something’s out of balance with your hormones, it affects your entire system, including both body and mind.
For example, people with imbalanced adrenal hormones, tend to often experience anxiety, depression, and insomnia often. Others with hyper or hypothyroidism also commonly report mania, anxiety, depressive episodes, and confusion.
If you are going through physiological discomforts and emotional unease, you can try using essential oils to support a healthy hormone balance.
Sign #6: Memory Fog
Changes in estrogen and progesterone can make you feel “dizzy” or “foggy”, making it harder to remember things. For women, these attention and memory issues are especially common during menopause.
#Sign 7: Ongoing Fatigue
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a hormonal imbalance. Excess progesterone, an underactive thyroid gland, and adrenal fatigue can all make you feel sleepy and tired.
Sign #8: Infertility
A hormone imbalance in women can cause disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and anovulation. Men can also have hormonal issues that cause infertility, such as low testosterone levels.
Sign #9: Low Libido
Hormonal imbalance can be a significant cause of libido loss in both men and women. Low libido is most common between the ages of 40 and 55, during early and later-stage menopause, and andropause.
Sign #10: Hair Loss
Hair loss in men usually occurs due to aging, but low levels of testosterone also play a part. You’ll usually notice bald spots you hadn’t had before or an increased thinning of hair in multiple areas of the body.
The same applies to women: if estrogen and progesterone levels fall, and androgens increase, hair becomes thinner and falls out more easily.
Sign #11: Heavy or Painful Periods
In women, a hormonal imbalance often leads to heavy or painful periods.
If you experience heavy or painful periods, abdominal and lower pain, a frequent need to urinate, bowel problems, and/or painful sex, you may have an estrogen imbalance.
7+ Natural Remedies for Hormonal Imbalance
There’s many ways you can balance hormones naturally. Let’s check out some of them:
1. Eat the Right Amount of Protein
Proteins, fibers, and other healthy fats are crucial to normal bodily and hormonal functions. When you consume an adequate amount of protein, your body produces hormones that suppress appetite and keep you feeling full. Aim for a minimum of 20-30 grams of protein, per meal, daily.
2. Regular Exercise
If you’ve ever completed an intense workout, you’ve probably experienced what is known as the “runners high” - a brief, deeply relaxing state of joy and release of “feel-good” chemicals. These chemicals are nothing but hormones - specifically, dopamine being released in the brain.
Besides dopamine, exercising also boosts your serotonin, estrogen, and testosterone levels, positively impacting your mood, sexual function, appetite, memory, and overall health.
3. Cut Off Sugar and Refined Carbs
Sugar and refined carbohydrate-rich diets have been associated with insulin resistance. Avoiding these foods and limiting total carbohydrate intake lowers your insulin levels and increases your insulin sensitivity.
4. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is hyped up as one of the healthiest drinks around for a reason. The drink contains metabolism-boosting caffeine, along with the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been linked to a variety of health benefits.
Additionally, research suggests that consuming green tea increases insulin sensitivity and lowers insulin levels for both healthy people, and those who are overweight, obese, or have diabetes. The antioxidant also cleanses your body from all the toxins that might be messing up your hormone levels.
Enjoy drinking tea? Check out our full guide to hormone balance teas, including vitex berry, black cohosh root, and lady’s mantle tea!
5. Avoid Overeating and Undereating
Try to eat regularly, without overeating or undereating, so that you don’t throw your metabolism off balance. Focus on proteins, fiber, vitamins, amino acids, and other foods directly related to the production of your hormones.
If you’re interested in learning about the expected health benefits of incorporating super greens into your diet, we’ve got a guide on super green weight loss you can check out.
6. Quit Drinking and Smoking
According to a 2018 study, tobacco can alter your thyroid hormone levels, and raise steroid hormones like cortisol, which causes stress. Whereas alcohol interrupts the communication between the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems and causes hormonal disturbances, which have serious behavioral and physiological negative effects.
7. Take Vitamins and Supplements
While a healthy diet is key for all health aspects, sometimes it’s necessary to take hormone balance supplements and vitamins to fill nutritional voids that can be causing the hormonal imbalance.
Here are some of our top supplement suggestions you can use to fix hormone imbalance:
- Go With The Flow is a natural supplement that combines 4 powerful hormone balance herbs, and it’s designed specifically to address hormone imbalance related to PMS, PCOS, and menopause. It has been proven to provide mental & emotional relief, balance hormone levels, and reduce bothersome physical symptoms (acne, bloating, tenderness)
- Ashwagandha Root is an adaptogen used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to ease symptoms of anxiety and improve the overall hormone balance. It normalizes cortisol levels, resists stressors, boosts your immune system, and quickens stress recovery.
- Organic Maca is mostly popular for the long-lasting energy, mental clarity, and stabilization of your estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone level. It also relieves menopause symptoms and promotes fertility, a healthy reproductive system, and increased libido.
- Omega-3 improves your adrenal functions and normalizes cortisol levels in your body. The supplement is also vital for heart and eye health, helps fight anxiety and depression, and offers anti-inflammatory effects.
Hormone imbalance is a common issue amongst women and men today. It's caused by a variety of conditions, some of which come naturally due to aging and puberty, while others result from health conditions or unhealthy lifestyle patterns. What’s important when dealing with hormone imbalance, is recognizing the symptoms, figuring out the root of the issue, and then taking the necessary remedies to ease the signs and possibly even eliminate the imbalance altogether.