Hormonal imbalance is more prevalent than most people would think. This is even more so among men and women in the 35 and above age range. Many of the symptoms that people present in the doctor’s office are hormonal or may have hormonal origins, yet, this is all-too-frequently ignored.
This is not surprising seeing as we live in an age where most people just want to get medications that will instantly alleviate their symptoms, even if they don't fix the underlying problem. A good example of this is depression.
In many cases, the underlying cause is hormonal in nature, although situational elements such as stress, grief, or abuse can produce similar results until a person is removed from the offending environment. But even if the cause is hormonal in nature, most people would rather pop an antidepressant and keep going, when their issue might be better resolved by digging a little deeper.
So How Do You Know if You Might Be Suffering from Hormonal Imbalance?
This is more observed in women than it is in men. For women, this can present in the form of mood swings, fatigue, tiredness, lethargy, low sex drive, extreme irritability, night sweats, insomnia, yeast infections, hot flashes, and vaginal dryness.
All of these things can occur when women have less progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone than they need, and have more cortisol -- the stress hormone -- in the body than they should have.
As for men, hormonal imbalance often presents in the form of low energy levels, low or nonexistent sexual drive, frequent erectile dysfunction, and low sperm volume. This can frequently manifest even when other lifestyle elements such as diet and exercise are being looked after.
They may also suffer from depression and irritability. Naturally, all of these have considerable negative impact on the body, as well as the mind. But before we dive too deep into the effects, let’s discuss the causes.
Causes of Hormonal Imbalance
The primary factors tend to be age, genetics, and for women, pregnancy. Just as our bodies shuffled our hormones around in our teenage years, the mix is altered once again during our later lives.
However, there are other lifestyle factors such as poor diet, little or no exercise, poor sleep, poor liver function and toxicity, sedentary living, and continuously high levels of cortisol, which forces your body to minimize or otherwise alter its normal hormonal regulation.
While menopause and lower sexual drive are common midlife events, the reality is that many people hasten the accompanying hormonal imbalance through certain unhealthy lifestyle choices. The fact is these are all dangerous and have a significant impact on your health, and can hasten the onset of menopause.
That, alone, would be scary enough. But since our hormones control so much of how our bodies behave, the consequences of any sort of imbalance can be quite varied, and pronounced.
Hormones are meant to regulate every process in your body. Too little of one thing or too much of another, and your body responds. A good example of this is excessive weight gain.
To be factual and fair, there are many causes of weight gain. But, chief among those commonly experienced in men and women approaching their middle ages can be traced back to changes in their hormones.
It's not uncommon around the same period of one's life to spend more and more of your time sitting and less time exercising. Naturally, this sedentary lifestyle means that your body has to convert energy to fat. However, the absence or inadequate volume of testosterone further results in fatty tissue stored in places like the hips, lower belly, and chest area. This is why men develop gynecomastia or “man boobs.” This excessive weight gain can and will hinder natural bodily functions, further impacting your health.
In women, the hormones estrogen and progesterone play a critical role in ensuring women’s fertility. These hormones act as “preparers” of the womb before, during, and after menstruation.
Women with proper amounts of these hormones in their bodies tend to have normal cycles, and these normal cycles tend to see the best chances of fertility. But women who don't have these in the right quantities are likely to find it more difficult to get pregnant. This is because the uterus is not being told how to behave by the hormones regulating its function.
As for men, testosterone plays a critical role in the production of semen. Therefore, men who have insufficient hormones, or low testosterone, can find it difficult to impregnate their partners.
Cardiovascular Health Conditions
Hormonal imbalance can even potentially be deadly. Just as sperm production, sexual appetites, or menstruation can be affected by changes in the hormones that regulate them, so can your heart and cardiovascular system.
Hormonal imbalance has been linked to diseases like diabetes, stroke, heart disease, hypertension and heart attack. For instance, insulin resistance triggered by an individual ingesting more sugar than he/she needs is directly linked to obesity and Type II diabetes.
A woman who suffers from a combination of low estrogen levels and high testosterone levels is also more likely to develop heart disease. Women with high or low testosterone levels are at risk of developing osteoporosis as well, as these hormones work to regulate the rate at which bone tissue is produced and resorbed by the body.
Breast Cancer and Other Malignancies
Excessive estrogen has been linked to breast cancer while high testosterone levels have been linked to endometrial cancer. Known as estrogen dominance, this is when women have more estrogen and less progesterone than they need.
Unfortunately, most women don’t know that they have been estrogen dominant for many years -- the symptoms, which include heavy bleeding, tender breasts, and excessively painful cramps, are often dismissed and thought of as part of their menses.
Treatments Options and Solutions
Nevertheless, there are treatment options usually in the form of hormone replacement therapies for women and men who suffer from hormonal imbalance. There are multiple therapies designed to optimize and normalize your hormonal levels again if you have been diagnosed with hormonal imbalance.
So, if you have been experiencing one or more of the outlined conditions, talk to your doctor and find out if hormone therapy from Body Concepts and Wellness is right for you.