Produced by our endocrine glands—adrenals, thyroid, pancreas and ovaries or testes—hormones perform essential functions, relay important warnings and communicate messages throughout the body. In layman’s terms, hormones assure that everything is running smoothly and that your rhythms stay in sync.
Despite their vital role, an estimated 80% of women suffer from some kind of hormonal imbalance. And for men, starting at age 20, their hormone levels decline about 14% every 10 years.
Often times the symptoms of hormone imbalance are difficult to discern, as they are commonly viewed as normal parts of aging or mistaken for other conditions. Here are X common signs of hormone imbalance that you should be aware of:
- Fatigue: Sure, everyone gets tired from time to time. But, most people feel better once they’ve had adequate rest, hydration and a healthy diet. Chronic fatigue is different. If you are taking care of yourself but are still frequently exhausted, you may want to consider a comprehensive evaluation of your hormone levels to rule out conditions such as adrenal fatigue or hypothyroidism.
- Anxiety: There’s an entire discipline call neuroendocrinology dedicated to the study of the relationship between neurotransmitters in the brain and hormones. What researchers have learned is that cortisol and norepinephrine, which are produced and released by the adrenal glands, often underlie the feelings that may be perceived as anxiety.
- Weight Management: Increased production of cortisol when the body is stressed causes the body to hold onto fat because it’s a great storage form of energy. While lifestyle habits such as lack of physical activity and poor eating habits often play a role, weight gain or difficulty losing weight can be signs of hormonal imbalance.
- Insomnia: What people may not realize is that melatonin, the well-known sleep chemical, is a hormone. Additionally, low levels of progesterone can affect your ability to sleep. There are a variety of reasons you may have difficulty sleeping such as too much caffeine or screen time before bed, but persistent insomnia is likely related to a hormone imbalance.
- Skin and hair changes: The quality and vitality of your skin and hair is directly related to your hormones. For example, thyroid abnormalities may cause dry hair or skin, thinning hair, hair loss or brittle nails. A hormone imbalance can also trigger acne.
- Low Sex Drive: Both men and women are subject to irregularities related to their sex hormones–estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Imbalances of these hormones can cause sexual dysfunction and low sex drive.
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Often considered a normal part of a woman’s monthly menses, the symptoms of PMS are often related to an abnormality in the quality, quantity or function of the sex hormones. Periods that are too long, too short, or unpredictable, as well as heavy bleeding and cramping, can all be signs of hormone imbalance.
When to Seek Help
The effects of hormone imbalance are far-reaching and can result in a mix of physical and mental health challenges. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms you should consult a licensed healthcare professional.
Dr. Karen Clark of Chapel Hill Gynecology has extensive experience in the field of hormone therapy. By reviewing an analysis of your hormone levels in the context of symptoms you are having, she can make recommendations regarding the best treatment method for specific needs. To schedule an appointment, call (919) 960-2720.