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Balanced Hormones

Balanced Hormones

Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers.

Produced in the endocrine glands, these powerful chemicals travel around your bloodstream telling tissues and organs what to do. They help control many of your body’s major processes, including metabolism and reproduction.

When you have a hormonal imbalance, you have too much or too little of a certain hormone. Even tiny changes can have serious effects on your whole body.

Think of hormones like a cake recipe. Too much or too little of any one ingredient affects the final product.

While some hormone levels fluctuate throughout your lifetime and may just be the result of natural aging, other changes occur when your endocrine glands get the recipe wrong.

Read on to learn more about hormonal imbalances.

Signs or symptoms of a hormonal imbalance

Your hormones play an integral role in your overall health. As a result, there’s a broad range of signs or symptoms that could signal a hormonal imbalance. Your signs or symptoms will depend on which hormones or glands aren’t working properly.

Common hormonal conditions affecting both men and women could cause any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • weight gain;
  • a hump of fat between the shoulders;
  • unexplained, and sometimes sudden, weight loss;
  • fatigue;
  • muscle weakness;
  • muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness;
  • pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints;
  • increased or decreased heart rate;
  • sweating;
  • increased sensitivity to cold or heat;
  • constipation or more frequent bowel movements;
  • frequent urination;
  • increased thirst;
  • increased hunger;
  • decreased sex drive;
  • depression;
  • nervousness, anxiety, or irritability;
  • blurred vision;
  • infertility;
  • thinning hair or fine, brittle hair;
  • dry skin;
  • puffy face;
  • rounded face;
  • purple or pink stretch marks.

Keep in mind that these symptoms are nonspecific, and having them doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a hormonal imbalance.

Signs or symptoms in females

In females of reproductive age, the most common hormonal imbalance is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Your normal hormonal cycle also changes naturally during these stages:

  • puberty;
  • pregnancy;
  • breastfeeding;
  • menopause.

Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance specific to females include:

  • heavy or irregular periods, including missed periods, a stopped period, or a frequent period;
  • hirsutism, or excessive hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body;
  • acne on the face, chest, or upper back;
  • hair loss;
  • darkening of the skin, especially along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath the breasts;
  • skin tags;
  • vaginal dryness;
  • vaginal atrophy;
  • pain during sex;
  • night sweats;
  • headaches.

Signs or symptoms in males

Testosterone plays an important role in male development. If you aren’t producing enough testosterone, it can cause a variety of symptoms.

Symptoms of hormonal imbalance in adult males include:

  • gynecomastia, or the development of breast tissue;
  • breast tenderness;
  • erectile dysfunction (ED);
  • decrease in beard growth and body hair growth;
  • loss of muscle mass;
  • loss of bone mass, otherwise known as osteoporosis;
  • difficulty concentrating;
  • hot flashes.

Causes of a hormonal imbalance

There are many possible causes of a hormonal imbalance. Causes differ depending on which hormones or glands are affected. Common causes of hormonal imbalance include:

  • hormone therapy;
  • medications;
  • cancer treatments such as chemotherapy;
  • tumors, whether cancerous or benign;
  • pituitary tumors;
  • eating disorders;
  • stress;
  • injury or trauma.

While the conditions below may be initially caused by hormonal imbalances, having the conditions can also lead to further hormonal imbalances:

  • diabetes (type 1 and type 2);
  • diabetes insipidus;
  • hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid;
  • hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid;
  • hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules;
  • thyroiditis;
  • hypogonadism;
  • Cushing syndrome, or high levels of cortisol;
  • congenital adrenal hyperplasia, which causes low levels of cortisol and aldosterone;
  • Addison’s disease.

Causes unique to women

Many causes of hormonal imbalance in women are related to reproductive hormones. Common causes include:

  • menopause;
  • primary ovarian insufficiency, which is also known as premature menopause;
  • pregnancy;
  • breastfeeding;
  • PCOS;
  • hormone drugs such as birth control pills.

Tests and diagnosis

There’s no single test available for doctors to diagnose a hormonal imbalance. Begin by making an appointment with a doctor for a physical exam.

Be prepared to describe your symptoms and the timeline along which they’ve occurred. Bring a list of all medications, vitamins, and supplements you’re currently taking.

A doctor may ask you questions such as:

  • How often are you experiencing symptoms?
  • Does anything help relieve your symptoms?
  • Have you lost or gained weight recently?
  • Are you more stressed than usual?
  • When was your last period?
  • Are you planning to get pregnant?
  • Do you have trouble getting or maintaining an erection?
  • Do you have vaginal dryness or pain during sex?

Depending on your symptoms, a doctor may suggest one or more diagnostic tests. You can also request that a doctor perform these tests.

Blood test

A doctor will send a sample of your blood to a lab for testing. Most hormones can be detected in the blood.

A doctor can request a blood test to check your thyroid and your levels of estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol.

Pelvic exam

If you’re female, a doctor may perform a Pap smear to feel for any unusual lumps, cysts, or tumors.

If you’re male, a doctor may check your scrotum for any lumps or abnormalities.


An ultrasound machine uses sound waves to look inside your body. Doctors may request an ultrasound to get images of the uterus, ovaries, testicles, thyroid, or pituitary gland.

Additional tests

Sometimes more advanced tests are required. These can include:

  • biopsy;
  • MRI;
  • X-ray;
  • thyroid scan;
  • sperm count test;
  • at-home tests.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, you may also consider using a home testing kit. They’re available for a variety of conditions.

Home testing kits for menopause measure follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in your urine. FSH levels increase when you enter menopause.

Levels also rise and fall during a normal menstrual cycle. Other factors, such as the use of hormonal birth control, can also affect your FSH levels.

As such, these kits can give you an indication of whether menopause has started, but they can’t tell you conclusively. A healthcare provider’s confirmation may be necessary.

Home testing kits typically use saliva or blood from the fingertip to measure your levels of cortisol, key thyroid hormones, and sex hormones such as progesterone and testosterone. Some tests may require a urine sample.

These kits require you to send the sample off to a lab. Your test results are usually available online within 5 to 9 business days.

Regardless of which at-home test you choose, it’s important to discuss your test results with your healthcare provider and let them know if you’re concerned about certain symptoms or a possible diagnosis.

Treatment options for a hormonal imbalance

Treatment for a hormonal imbalance will depend on what’s causing it. Some common treatment options are described below.

Estrogen therapy

If you’re experiencing hot flashes or other uncomfortable symptoms of menopause, a doctor may recommend a low dose of estrogen.

Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with a doctor.

Vaginal estrogen

If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness or pain during sex, you may want to try applying an estrogen cream, tablet, or ring.

Using this local therapy treatment helps eliminate many of the risks associated with systemic estrogen, or estrogen that travels throughout the bloodstream to the appropriate organ.

Anti-androgen medications

Androgens are male sex hormones that are present in both women and men. Women with high androgen levels may choose to take medication that blocks the effects of androgens.

These effects include:

  • hair loss;
  • facial hair growth;
  • acne.

Testosterone therapy

Testosterone supplements can reduce the symptoms of low testosterone in men. In adolescents with delayed puberty, it stimulates the start of puberty. It’s available in many forms, including injections, a patch, and gel.

Thyroid hormone therapy

If you have hypothyroidism, the synthetic thyroid hormone levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, Unithroid) can bring hormone levels back into balance.

Contact our doctor to receive a free consultation right from the comfort of your own home.