Hormonal Imbalance: What It Is, Who Experiences It, Signs, & Symptoms
Hormonal imbalances are a common health concern that affects many individuals, regardless of gender or age. Hormones are chemicals produced by the endocrine glands that regulate many bodily functions, including growth, metabolism, and reproduction. When the production or balance of hormones is disrupted, it can lead to a hormonal imbalance. Here's what you need to know about hormonal imbalance.
Who experiences hormonal imbalance?
Hormonal imbalances can affect anyone, regardless of gender or age. However, certain groups are more susceptible, including women during pregnancy, menopause, or menstruation, individuals with thyroid or adrenal gland disorders, and those with certain medications or medical conditions.
What is the percentage of people affected by a hormonal imbalance?
The prevalence of hormonal imbalances varies depending on the specific type. For example, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormonal disorder that affects the ovaries, affects up to 20% of women of reproductive age. Thyroid disorders affect about 20 million Americans, with women being five to eight times more likely to be affected than men.
What are the signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance?
Hormonal imbalances can cause a wide range of signs and symptoms, depending on the type and severity of the imbalance. Some common signs and symptoms include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles (heavy, light, or absent periods)
- Mood changes (anxiety, depression, irritability, or mood swings)
- Hot flashes or night sweats
- Fatigue or low energy levels
- Changes in appetite or weight gain
- Skin problems (acne, dryness, or thinning)
- Hair loss or excess hair growth (hirsutism)
- Sleep problems
- Decreased sex drive
- Infertility or difficulty getting pregnant
It's essential to note that other health conditions can also cause these symptoms, so speaking to a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis is important.
Are supplements a way to treat or prevent hormonal imbalance?
While some supplements may be marketed as natural remedies for hormonal imbalances, the evidence supporting their effectiveness is limited. Hormonal imbalances are complex and can be caused by various factors, including genetics, lifestyle choices, and underlying health conditions. While supplements may offer some benefits, they are not a cure-all for hormonal imbalances.
Additionally, taking supplements without proper medical supervision can be harmful. Some supplements may interact with medications or exacerbate existing health conditions. It's important to speak to a healthcare provider before taking any supplements, especially if you have a history of hormonal imbalances or are currently experiencing symptoms. Healthcare providers can provide personalized recommendations and assist with managing and treating hormonal imbalances safely and effectively.
How can hormonal imbalances be prevented?
While some hormonal imbalances cannot be prevented, certain lifestyle choices may help reduce the risk of developing a hormonal imbalance. These include: maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, getting adequate sleep, avoiding exposure to endocrine disruptors, and talking to a healthcare provider about any concerns or symptoms.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or underweight can disrupt hormonal balance. Eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of hormonal imbalances. Getting advice and accountability from a partner like a registered dietitian or health coach can help you get to or maintain a healthy weight.
- Manage stress: Chronic stress can increase cortisol levels, which can disrupt other hormones in the body. Managing stress through talk therapy, meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises may help reduce the risk of hormonal imbalances.
- Get adequate sleep: Sleep deprivation can disrupt the production of hormones such as melatonin, cortisol, and insulin. Getting adequate sleep can help maintain hormonal balance. Whether needing to talk with a sleep specialist or trying acupuncture can help those who suffer from insomnia.
- Talk to your healthcare provider: Discuss any concerns or symptoms with your healthcare provider. They can help identify potential hormonal imbalances and recommend appropriate treatments or preventive measures.
If you're experiencing any unusual changes in your body or have concerns about your hormonal health, it's important to speak to a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Book an appointment with your Reside care team, whether wanting to book medical appointments with a doctor, or scheduling appointments with our registered dietitians, licensed therapists, and acupuncturist.