We’ve all heard the snarky menopause jokes, but anyone who’s had a hormone imbalance will tell you: it’s no laughing matter.
It’s not just women, either. Hormone imbalances are common in both men and women and they can affect your mental as well as physical health.
In men, symptoms can include erectile dysfunction, reduced body hair growth, low sperm count and reduced sex drive.
You’re more likely to experience an imbalance during puberty, while having your period, during pregnancy or during menopause. But imbalances can also be caused by such factors as:
- Medical conditions that affect your endocrine system
- Taking hormone medications
- Poor nutrition
- An overactive or underactive thyroid
- Radiation therapy
- Adrenal disorders
- Pituitary disorders
Hormones are chemicals that regulate most of our bodily functions. They are produced in your endocrine system and act as messengers telling your organs and tissues what to do.
Common symptoms of a hormone imbalance include:
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Changes in heart rate or blood pressure
- Increased thirst
- Changes in your skin, hair or nails
- Skin rashes
- Changes in appetite
- Memory fog
Women with hormone imbalances may experience heavy or painful periods, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, breast tenderness and night sweats.
“Weight gain, sleep disturbances and memory loss are also very common complaints,” said Dr. Nunziato.
Eating well, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can help keep your hormones in balance.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance in men can include erectile dysfunction, reduced body hair growth, low sperm count and reduced sex drive.
“Treatments will vary depending on both the cause of your hormonal imbalance and the symptoms you find most bothersome,” Dr. Nunziato said. “Common treatments for both men and women include metformin to help control your blood sugar and levothyroxine to manage hypothyroidism.
“For women in particular, treatment may include medications with estrogen or progesterone, vaginal creams with estrogen, and other medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to control symptoms or replace hormones,” she said.
“For men, testosterone gels or patches can help raise levels of testosterone.”
Can lifestyle choices help? Absolutely.
Eating well, maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise are recommended to help keep your hormones in balance. In short: following the best practices to keep your entire body in great shape!