What surprises a lot of people is that hormonal imbalances can affect both men and women – and of all ages. And although there are types of imbalances that are gender specific, I see many patients in Central Minnesota who are able to successfully treat hormonal imbalances with minor changes.
Hormones control many of the inner-workings in our bodies, when they’re not functioning at their highest potential; we’re not functioning at our highest potential. And as a Certified Nurse Practitioner with years of experience, my goal is to help each and every person who sees me feel their absolute best – from their hormones to their heart. In this blog, I’ll cover some background info on hormonal imbalance, as well as common signs you can look for.
What is Hormonal Imbalance?
The correlation between estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels within the body, along with their effect on other hormones can range from moderate to severe, but are treatable. When our bodies are in balance, our hormones work in a perfectly choreographed motion. Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of things - like stress and our environment - that can wreak havoc on this dance.
Hormonal imbalances can be created by the foods we eat, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, and solvents that we are exposed to in our daily lives. Unfortunately for many of us, it doesn't take much to send hormone production into a tailspin.
What are the Effects of Hormonal Imbalance?
An excess of estrogen can cause us to gain weight, which creates additional estrogen, triggering an endless cycle. Cortisol – also referred to as the "stress hormone" – will increase in production as people experience chronic stress. This affects the thyroid, increases blood pressure, and affects glucose levels. Grhelin is a hormone that increases the appetite, while leptin reduces it, and the levels of other hormones within our bodies influence their production. Can you see how one imbalance can start a spiral of other imbalances? One thing leads to another.
Natural hormonal fluctuations occur from puberty through menopause in women. Levels rise and fall throughout the month, particularly just prior to menstruation, often causing PMS. Vaginal dryness and breast changes are caused by elevated estrogen levels, and are commonly experienced by women as they enter menopause. Insulin resistance, increased belly fat, and higher levels of estrogen have been linked to a higher rate of breast cancer in women. It is important to treat hormonal imbalances to help reduce the risk of these and other problems.
Men, on the other hand, also begin to experience changes at puberty, then gradually experience a decline of their testosterone and growth hormone levels. Erectile dysfunction and gynecomastia, or breast development, are two gender specific signs of hormonal imbalances in men.
Common Signs of Hormonal Imbalance
When an individual comes into Williams Integracare with questions or concerns, hormones can be a good place to start so I get to the bottom of what’s going on. Below are five of the most common signs experts associate with hormonal imbalance, as well as what can be done.
- Weight gain, especially around the abdominal area is frequently experienced as we age, but is more drastic when hormonal imbalances are present. Treatment may include having thyroid levels checked and adjusted.
- Anxiety, mood swings, irritability, and depression are common symptoms of hormonal imbalance, often lasting for a few days or even weeks. This is often associated with an estrogen imbalance during the menstrual cycle, and can typically be treated. A daily vitamin B6, limiting caffeine, and limiting sugar, are simple methods that can help reduce the effects of PMS.
- A lessening libido, or even a total loss of desire, is frequently seen in both men and women as hormone levels fluctuate. Discussing this naturally occurring problem with your doctor can help you find a successful treatment option.
- Constant fatigue is often a result of hypothyroidism, and is often associated with weight gain, digestive problems, and brain fog, as the entire body slows down. A comprehensive thyroid test can determine hypothyroidism. Increasing thyroid levels can help you return to a more vigorous life.
- Hot flashes, night sweats, and other sleep disorders are typically caused by an imbalance of progesterone and estrogen, and occur most often as women enter menopause.
Just remember – you’re not in this alone – that’s what I’m here for! If one or more of the items on this list concerns you, or even if you just need peace of mind… I’m only a phone call and appointment away.
Experiencing one or more of the common signs of hormonal imbalance can have a negative effect on your daily routine, and we don’t want that. Discussing your problems at your next appointment can help us uncover the best course of action to return your body to a natural balance. There are many treatment options available for both men and women to help you regain control of your life and kick the signs of hormonal imbalance to the curb.