Hormone imbalance is a general term referring to either too much or too little of a hormone in the bloodstream. Hormones are chemicals that are produced by glands in the endocrine system. That system includes the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroids, adrenals, pancreas, ovaries, and testes.
Hormones that are commonly imbalanced include:
- Estrogen, which regulates sexual characteristics in females
- Testosterone, which regulates sexual characteristics in males
- Melatonin, which regulates sleep
- Ghrelin, which regulates appetite and fat storage
- Thyroid, which regulates metabolism in every cell
- Aldosterone, which regulates salt and water levels
- Cortisol, which regulates stress and energy
- Progesterone, which regulates pregnancy and menstruation
- DHEA, which is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands in men and women, and whose role is not fully understood.
Symptoms of hormone imbalance include:
- Estrogen: weight gain, hot flashes, migraines
- Testosterone: low sex drive, male pattern baldness, acne
- Melatonin: insomnia, depression
- Ghrelin: excessive hunger, overeating
- Thyroid: fatigue, hair loss, constipation, anxiety, irregular heartbeat
- Aldosterone: high blood pressure
- Cortisol: weight gain, high blood pressure, anxiety
- Progesterone: low sex drive, mood swings, cramps
- DHEA: adrenal fatigue, joint pain, loss of muscle mass
Hormone levels naturally fluctuate throughout life, causing changes in body shape, energy, health, etc. The levels spike during puberty, then decline with age.
Hormones influence many different bodily functions, including:
- Metabolism and weight gain or loss
- Sexual function
- Fertility and reproduction
- Hair growth
Other factors besides age that influence hormone imbalances are:
- Use of certain steroids or birth control pills
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Lack of quality sleep
- Poor nutrition
- High stress
Women often experience hormone imbalance during menopause. The sudden drop in estrogen levels can cause weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, and disinterest in sex.
For men, low testosterone levels can cause reduced energy, mood swings, physical weakness, and disinterest in sex.