How to Spot Hormone Imbalance - MetroFamily Magazine
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How to Spot Hormone Imbalance

by Shannon Fields

Reading Time: 2 minutes 

Few people realize how profoundly hormones can affect day-to-day life. Most people think hormones are only problematic for women approaching menopause, and may envision hot flashes and moodiness. But a hormone imbalance can mean much more than that, and can affect women—and men—of all ages.

Different glands and organs throughout the body produce hormones, which act as chemical messengers traveling through the bloodstream to regulate various body systems, emotions, and reproduction, thereby affecting overall health and well-being.

Many circumstances can cause a hormone imbalance. Stress, both positive and negative, is a major factor and can have a profound effect. Diet and lifestyle factors also play a role and should be considered when seeking the assistance of a health professional. Other potential influences include long- or short-term illness, environmental toxins, and prescription medications. The following guide may be helpful in determining whether you may be affected by a hormone imbalance.

Estrogen and Progesterone
The term “estrogen” refers to a group of hormones found in both sexes, but which are more predominant in women. While the body produces several kinds of estrogens, the three produced in major quantities are estradiol, estrone, and estriol. When in balance, estrogens protect against osteoporosis and enhance mental clarity, sex drive, sleep, and mood.

Progesterone is also found in both genders and is a predominantly female hormone. It acts as a balancing hormone, needed to enhance the positive effects of the estrogens and minimize the negative effects of estrogen dominance. Progesterone plays a role in regulating menstrual cycles as well as thyroid and blood sugar levels, and it is absolutely critical in pregnancy.

Symptoms of estrogen and progesterone imbalance include:

  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • mood swings
  • irritability and/or anxiety
  • memory lapses
  • depression
  • bone loss
  • headaches
  • sleep disturbances
  • weight gain
  • low sex drive
  • heart palpitations
  • breast tenderness
  • water retention
  • menstrual changes
  • incontinence
  • fibrocystic breasts
  • uterine fibroids and/or cystic ovaries
  • vaginal dryness

Testosterone and Dehydroepiandrosterone
Testosterone plays a major role in activating the sexual circuits of the brain in men and women, thus promoting a healthy libido. A healthy level helps to maintain energy, increase sex drive, and build and maintain bone mass and muscle tone. Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a precursor to testosterone, and is important for many of the same reasons.

Symptoms of testosterone and/or DHEA imbalance include:

  • increased facial or body hair
  • acne/oily skin
  • sleep disturbances
  • thinning hair
  • incontinence
  • fatigue
  • depression
  • decreased libido
  • bone loss
  • heart palpitations
  • memory lapses
  • irritability and/or anxiety
  • vaginal dryness

Cortisol and Adrenal Imbalances
Cortisol is a corticosteroid hormone that is heavily involved in an individual’s response to stress. Cortisol plays a role in balancing blood pressure and blood sugar levels and mobilizing energy reserves.

Symptoms of a cortisol imbalance include:

  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • decrease in muscle mass
  • thinning skin and hair
  • elevated triglycerides
  • sleep disturbances
  • headaches
  • anxiety or irritability
  • depression
  • memory loss
  • acne
  • stress
  • sugar cravings

Any of the symptoms listed in the categories above could indicate the presence of a hormone imbalance, and should be discussed with a health care professional. Hormone replacement has received widespread media attention in recent years, so there is plenty of information available for the lay person as well. A physician or pharmacist can provide further information and necessary referrals.

Shannon Fields is a freelance writer and a Certified Pharmacy Technician at Innovative Pharmacy Solutions. She holds a BA in Psychology with a minor in English from the University of Central Oklahoma. Shannon lives in Edmond with her husband and two daughters.

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