Do I Have a Hormone Imbalance?
Your body contains chemical messengers called hormones. Your hormones travel throughout your bloodstream to provide organs and tissues with instructions for what they need to do. This is partially how key processes in your body, such as your reproductive system and metabolism, are controlled.
When a hormone imbalance occurs, it means your body has too much or too little of a specific hormone. Even the smallest imbalance can have a serious impact on your entire body. Your hormones are similar to a recipe – if all the ingredients are not properly balanced, your recipe will not be right. Some levels will fluctuate during the course of your life due to natural aging. Other levels can become imbalanced when your endocrine system makes a mistake. Fortunately, there is a simple way to assess your hormone levels – hormone testing.
Do I have a hormone imbalance?
Your hormones are extremely important for your general health which is why so many symptoms may indicate an imbalance. The symptoms you experience will depend on which glands have failed to work correctly and the specific hormones affected. The most common symptoms of an imbalance for both men and women include:
- Decrease or increase in heart rate
- Swelling, stiffness, or pain in the joints
- Need to urinate frequently
- Puffiness in the face
- Gain weight
- Become hungry more often
- Irritability, anxiety, or nervousness
- Sudden or unexplained weight loss
- Having bowel movements more often or constipation
- Roundness of the face
- Blurry vision
- Increase in thirst
- Dry skin
- Pink or purple stretch marks
- Increased sensitivity to either heat or cold
- Fatty hump located between the shoulders
- Brittle, fine, or thinning hair
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle weakness
- Decrease or loss of sex drive
- Muscle stiffness, tenderness, or aches
Do I have enough testosterone?
One of the most important factors of male development is testosterone. If a man is not producing enough of this hormone, a wide range of symptoms can occur including:
- Breast tenderness
- Loss of bone mass or osteoporosis
- Decreased or lost sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Decrease in body hair and beard growth
- Difficulty with concentration
- Develop excess breast tissue
- Hot flashes
- Loss of muscle mass
Could a hormone imbalance cause PCOS?
The most common symptom of a hormone imbalance in women is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This can result from natural changes in the normal hormone cycle. This includes puberty, menopause, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
Symptoms of an imbalance include:
- Chest, face, or upper back acne
- Skin tags
- Night sweats
- Excessive hair on the body, chin, or face (Hirsutism)
- Vaginal atrophy
- Painful sex
- Hair loss or thinning hair
- Skin darkening beneath the breasts, along the groin, or in the neck creases
- Difficulty losing weight or weight gain
- Vaginal dryness
- Irregular or heavy menstruation including missed, stopped, or frequent menstruation
Why are my hormones imbalanced?
There are many different reasons your hormones can be unbalanced. The most common causes include:
- Underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism
- Overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism
- Eating disorders
- Hormone therapy
- Cushing syndrome
- Adrenal insufficiency
- Trauma or injury
- Cancerous or benign tumors
- Treatments for cancer
- Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules
- Pituitary tumor
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
Many imbalances in the female body are related to reproductive hormones. The most common causes for this type of imbalance include:
- Premature menopause
- Primary ovarian insufficiency
- Drugs containing hormones such as birth control pills
What is hormone testing?
Hormone testing typically starts by scheduling a physical examination. During the exam, you will describe your symptoms and provide a list of all supplements, vitamins, and medications. We might also ask you some of the following questions to get a better understanding of what is going on.
- How often are you experiencing symptoms?
- When was your last menstruation?
- Have you recently gained or lost weight?
- Are you experiencing pain or vaginal dryness during sex?
- Do you have plans to become pregnant?
- Does anything provide relief for your symptoms?
- Are you experiencing greater levels of stress than normal?
- Are you having difficulty having or maintaining an erection?
After discussing the above, we may recommend hormone testing, however, you can also request this type of testing during your regular diagnostic tests. The most common hormone testing includes:
- Blood test: A sample of your blood will be taken and analyzed for hormone testing. The majority of hormones are detectable in your blood. Blood tests can be used to check cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, and thyroid levels to determine if there is a hormone imbalance.
- Ultrasound: Sound waves may be used to see inside of your body. This test may be used to see images of the pituitary gland, thyroid, testicles, ovaries, or uterus.
- Pelvic exam: This test is for women only and is used to locate any tumors, cysts, or unusual lumps.
- Scrotum exam: We check for any abnormalities or lumps in the scrotum.
In some instances, further testing is necessary. This may include an MRI, thyroid scan, biopsy, X-ray, or sperm count.
Could a hormone imbalance be causing my acne?
Hormonal imbalance can also cause acne. The most common areas for acne are where oil glands are located which include your face, upper back, chest, and shoulders. One of the contributors to acne is due to high androgen levels and overstimulation of the oil glands. This is common in both men and women during puberty, however, levels typically go back to normal in their early ’20s.
One of the most common triggers for acne is the menstrual cycle. The week before the menstrual cycle begins, acne often develops and then clears up. Hormone testing is recommended for females with acne when other symptoms are present. This includes excess body or facial hair and irregular periods.
Is a hormone imbalance making me gain weight?
A low thyroid hormone level is common for individuals with Hypothyroidism. This is because their metabolism is not working the way it should. Individuals with this condition can still put on weight when following a healthy and low-calorie diet. Your hormones are extremely important for your metabolism and the ability of your body to use energy. Disorders such as Cushing’s Syndrome and Hypothyroidism can cause a person to become obese or overweight. The only way to successfully treat weight gain linked to a hormone disorder is to address the underlying condition.
A lot of women experience weight gain during menopause as their metabolism starts to slow down. You could perform the same exercise routine and consume the same diet, but continue to gain weight.
When a woman becomes pregnant, her body experiences significant hormonal changes even with a healthy and normal pregnancy. This is not the same thing as when your hormones become imbalanced.
Cushing’s Syndrome can also cause weight gain due to the high amount of cortisol present in the blood. This results in a larger appetite and more fat storage. Temporary hair loss can also result from hormonal changes or an imbalance that is often linked to the beginning of menopause, childbirth, or pregnancy. Hair loss in men is generally caused by heredity as opposed to hormonal changes.
Why am I having infertility issues?
The main cause of infertility issues is hormone imbalance. This includes Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS can interfere with ovulation and makes it difficult to become pregnant. Women with PCOS can still become pregnant by using prescription medications for the stimulation of ovulation or simply by losing weight. The most frequently recommended treatment is hormone balancing. If the medication does not work and the hormones remain unbalanced, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is another option. The temporary restoration of ovulation through surgery is always the last resort. PCOS can also lead to numerous issues during pregnancy for both the mother and the baby. Risks associated with PCOS include:
- Gestational diabetes
- High birth weight
- Cesarean section
Treatments for hormone imbalance
The best hormone treatment is dependant on the cause of the imbalance. The most common options for treatment include:
- Estrogen therapy: When women are experiencing uncomfortable menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, we may prescribe estrogen therapy. The benefits of this option will be thoroughly explained by your provider.
- Anti-androgen medications: Androgens are classified as male sex hormones found in both men and women. If the level of androgens is too high in a woman, medications can be used for blocking the associated effects.
- Metformin: This medication is for Type 2 Diabetics. Metformin can offer some relief for women with PCOS by encouraging ovulation and decreasing the level of androgens.
- Testosterone therapy: Testosterone therapy can be used to decrease low testosterone symptoms.
- Thyroid hormone therapy: Thyroid hormone therapy is often prescribed for individuals with Hypothyroidism. This medication can often correct a hormone imbalance.
One of the most common hormone treatments is called Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Generally speaking, this involves the use of bioidentical hormone pills, gels, and creams. The treatment can also be performed using hormone injections, patches, or pellets. You and your provider will determine the correct option for your specific needs.
What are bioidentical hormone pellets?
In 1939, bioidentical hormone pellet therapy became available in the U.S. This sustainable method is an excellent option to restore vitality and health for those experiencing symptoms of an imbalance. The effect achieved with pellets is almost identical to the natural production of hormones in a healthy adult. This type of hormone replacement therapy is convenient, easy, and lasts for a long time. The procedure can be done in all of our OnePeak Medical Clinics.
Depending on what you need, pellets contain either testosterone or estrogen. Additional hormones are secreted the same way your body would naturally when you are exercising or stressed. A lot of individuals notice the difference quite quickly, while others may need a couple of weeks before feeling the full effect.
Contact us today.
If you believe you may have a hormone imbalance, you owe it to yourself to undergo hormone testing. Contact us today to book an appointment and get started.