Hormonal Imbalance

Hormones play a very vital role in the human body. They are present in the bloodstream, and an increase or decrease in hormones level might lead to hormonal imbalance. There are a variety of hormones that act on various aspects of the body and its functions & processes. They help regulate the body's physiological and psychological health. For example, thyroid hormones oversee metabolism, body temperature, and energy levels, while cortisol (the stress hormone) plays an essential role in fetal development and response to physical and psychological stress. From appetite to heart rate to sexual function, every hormone has its own importance.


Where are hormones secreted from?


Hormones are secreted from endocrine glands. Endocrine glands are ductless, so hormones are secreted directly into the blood rather than into the ducts. Major endocrine glands of the body include:


1. Hypothalamus: Regulates body temperature, hunger, thirst, emotions, sleep, mood and allows the production of hormones


2. Pituitary gland: It is known as the master control gland. The pituitary gland control other glands behind the scenes and develops the hormone that triggers growth and development.


3. Pineal gland: It is known as the thalamus and produces melatonin that regulates the body clock.


4. Parathyroid: It regulates calcium.


5. Thymus: It helps in the production of T- cells and the functioning of adaptive immunity.


6. Thyroid: Produces hormones that control heartbeat and how the body uses calories.


7. Adrenal gland: Produces hormones that regulate cortisol and stress hormones.


8. Pancreas: Produces insulin that uses food as an energy source.


9. Testes: Secretes male sex hormone (testosterone) and also produce sperm.


10.  Ovaries: Secretes female sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and other female sex hormones).


The glands, as mentioned above, secrete hormones in a microscopic amount. It only takes a tiny amount to bring major changes in the body.


Hormones and diseases


Many hormonal disorders occur with the endocrine gland malfunctioning. Most common hormonal disorders are associated with the hypothalamus, adrenal, and pituitary glands. An increase or decrease in these hormones secretion can adversely affect the body's growth, metabolism, and development. Hyperthyroidism, osteoporosis, and diabetes are some of the most common hormonal disorders.


With the right balance of hormones, the body is well synchronized, whereas a slight hormonal imbalance can cause side effects throughout the body. There are many hormones that are shared by men and women, such as insulin and adrenaline. While specific hormones can affect men and women differently. For example, men may notice an imbalance in testosterone, and women may experience an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone levels.


Symptoms of hormonal imbalance


Hormones play a fundamental role in general health. Therefore there can be a wide range of symptoms that may indicate a hormonal imbalance. Although signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance depend on which gland and hormones are affected.


Common symptoms in men and women


  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Excessive sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle ache
  • Increased sensitivity to cold and heat
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Skin rashes
  • Uniform heartbeat
  • Brittle or weak bones
  • Change in blood pressure
  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Breast tenderness
  • A bulge in the neck


Unique symptoms in women


  • Heavy, irregular, or painful menstrual bleeding
  • Night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Acne
  • Uterine bleeding
  • Unwanted hair growth
  • Infertility
  • Pain during sex
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Clitoral enlargement


Unique symptoms in men


  • Reduced sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Low sperm count
  • Reduced body hair
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Overdevelopment of breast tissue


What causes the hormonal imbalance?


Everyone will experience a natural phase of hormonal imbalance at particular points in their lives. Hormonal imbalance can also take place when the endocrine system is not working properly. Endocrine glands are specialized to produce, store and release hormones into the bloodstream. Many medical conditions are known to affect some or many of the endocrine glands. These include:


  • Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
  • Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia
  • Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism
  • Poor diet
  • Obesity
  • Hormone therapy
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Addison's syndrome
  • Endocrine gland injury
  • Few allergic reactions
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hereditary pancreatitis
  • Goiter
  • Anorexia
  • Turner syndrome
  • Any injury or trauma
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia


Why are hormones known as chemical messengers?

The principal role of hormones is that of a chemical messenger. This is because they are the chemical agents that travel throughout the body to tell particular cells to perform a specific function. The term hormone refers to an assortment of chemicals that perform these signaling functions. Our body has an endocrine system that comprises of certain glands which secrete hormones when they receive signals from the brain. Hormones are required for a range of activities like digestion, respiration, metabolism, sleep, stress induction, growth & development, etc.
Sometimes, hormones act more of a regulator than a messenger. Changes in hormone production level results in some changes in the body. Thus, as a regulator, hormone maintains the homeostasis of the body. Once the hormones reach their target, the production needs to be controlled. This response is achieved by a mechanism known as a control mechanism.


Hormonal imbalance in women


Women naturally undergo hormonal imbalances several times throughout their lifetime. Such as during:


  • Pregnancy
  • Menstruation
  • PCOS
  • Breastfeeding
  • Premenopause, menopause, or postmenopause
  • Ovarian cancer
  • POI (Primary Ovarian Insufficiency)


Hormonal imbalance in men

Like women, men also experience a natural phase of hormonal imbalance during their lifetime. Causes can be:

  • Puberty
  • Aging
  • Prostate cancer
  • Hypogonadism


Lifestyle changes that may reduce the symptoms of hormonal imbalance

Bringing some healthy changes in the lifestyle may help reduce the likelihood and symptoms of hormonal imbalance. These changes may include the following:


  • Being physically active
  • Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet
  • Maintain healthy body weight
  • Practice good personal hygiene
  • Avoid triggers that can cause hot flashes
  • Limiting sugary food and refined carbohydrates
  • Learn to manage stress
  • Get consistent, good quality sleep



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