Hormones are a body’s chemical messengers that are secreted from the endocrine glands, and there is a wide variety of them. A person’s body should have a certain level of each hormone; any change, whether too much or too little, can have a major impact on a person’s body. Each hormone has a specific function, so a person can manifest a variety of symptoms depending on which hormone is not balanced.
How hormones impact the body
Hormones are very important to your body, as they tell your organs what they need to do. Some of the body functions controlled by these hormones include:
- Growth and development
- Blood pressure
- Sexual function and reproduction
- Sleep cycles
- Body temperature
Because hormones can influence various areas of the body, it’s not surprising that the body responds in various ways when fluctuations occur.
You may be surprised to learn that there are many types of hormones in the body. Some common hormones you may be familiar with include:
- Cortisol -plays a role in the stress response
- Insulin – helps control blood glucose levels
- Estrogen -regulates the menstrual cycle, develops sexual characteristics, and helps to maintain pregnancy
- Follicle-stimulating hormone – Controls the production of eggs
- Melatonin – controls the sleep cycle
- Oxytocin – helps with childbirth and lactation
- Progesterone – helps prepare the body for pregnancy
- Thyroid hormones – help control metabolism and energy levels
These are only a few of the many hormones your body produces to help it function properly.
Common causes of hormone imbalance
Many women experience symptoms of hormone imbalance and may never know the cause of their symptoms. Hormone imbalance may be a part of the natural aging process, or it could result from the endocrine glands not functioning properly. Times when a female can expect changes in her hormone levels include:
Additional causes of hormone imbalance include:
- Eating disorders
- Certain medications
It’s important to find out the cause of the shifts in hormones so that proper treatment can be put in place.
Symptoms of hormone imbalance
A woman may only experience a few symptoms or experience a wide variety of symptoms in response to a hormone imbalance. Some symptoms commonly experienced include:
- Weight gain
- Weight loss
- Trouble sleeping
- Sensitivity to heat or cold
- Frequent urination
- Decreased sex drive
- Hair loss
- Hair in unwanted areas such as the face
- Dry skin
- Heavy or irregular periods
Experiencing these symptoms can have a major impact on a woman’s life. It is important to seek the help of a medical professional when experiencing any of these symptoms or when you just do not feel like your typical self.
Certain conditions related to hormone imbalances often have a common set of symptoms, so a provider can often recognize and test for these conditions after becoming aware of a person’s symptoms. Common hormone-related conditions include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Cushing syndrome
- Addison’s disease
Diagnosing hormone imbalance
However, diagnosing hormone imbalance is not as easy as just coming in to get lab work. With such a wide variety of hormones and how often hormones fluctuate, it is impossible to diagnose a hormone imbalance with just one lab. Diagnosing a hormone imbalance can be a process. A provider will need a detailed physical and history to narrow down which hormones may be off-balance and to figure out the cause of the imbalance. After a thorough physical and detailed history, some tests you may expect from a provider include:
- Lab work
- Pelvic exam
- Thyroid scan
- MRI or XRAY
It is helpful to keep a detailed diary to bring to your appointment. You should keep a detailed diary of the symptoms you experience when you experience them, what was going on when you experienced the symptoms, and if anything helped resolve the symptoms. Having this detailed report can assist the provider inaccurately diagnosing you.
Thankfully, after determining which hormones are off and the cause of the imbalance, there are treatment options to correct the imbalances. Treatments may include:
- Natural lifestyle changes
- Hormone therapy through medications
Hormone therapy is a common treatment to correct low levels of a certain hormone. For women experiencing symptoms of menopause such as:
- Hot flashes
- Mood changes
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain
A doctor can prescribe estrogen to correct this imbalance. Hormonal birth control may be prescribed for females experiencing acne and irregular periods. For those experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism, a synthetic version of the hormone, such as Levothyroxine, can be given.
Having a healthier lifestyle can also help your body keep a balanced level of hormones. Some lifestyle changes that may improve your hormone levels and, therefore, how your body feels overall include:
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Maintaining healthy body weight
- Getting a good night of sleep each night
- Keeping your stress level low
There are also times when surgery is required to correct a hormone imbalance. For instance, surgery may be required to remove some or all of the thyroid gland with thyroid disorders. Additionally, if a hormone imbalance is the result of a tumor, surgery may be required to remove the tumor.
Contact Nore Health
Whether you are feeling so tired you are struggling to keep up with everyday life, experiencing weight gain without a known cause, feeling down and sad for no apparent reason, struggling with irregular periods or infertility, or just feeling “off,” it is important to put yourself first and to go ahead and make an appointment to start your journey of getting to be the best version of yourself possible. Schedule your appointment today with Nore Health and let the health care providers help you get started on this journey to getting you back to where you want to be.