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