Hormonal imbalance is largely associated with women due to ‘mood swings’ that come with menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. However, hormones are present in all complex beings: plants, animals, and humans irrespective of gender.
They are the production crew responsible for orchestrating every bodily function imaginable, and even the slightest change in quantity, aka hormonal imbalance, can cause far-reaching side-effects throughout the body.
What are Hormones?
Hormones are chemicals produced by the various endocrine glands located throughout the body. Their primary mission is to transmit messages to and from their originating glands and body-wide tissues and organs via the bloodstream.
The endocrine glands work in harmony to produce, store and release the precise amounts of hormones as and when required. Even the smallest of changes in this hormonal equilibrium, either due to problems with endocrine functioning or external factors like disease and lifestyle, can result in a ‘hormonal imbalance’ which can simultaneously impact multiple bodily processes.
However, not all hormonal imbalances are dangerous. Everyone experiences natural imbalance at certain points in life, like puberty, pregnancy, and old age, which help with proper growth.
Some Famous Hormones:
The human body contains 8 endocrine glands responsible for managing a specific hormone or set of hormones, with the most well-known hormones being:
- Adrenal glands: Adrenaline (fight-or-flight), Cortisol (stress), Aldosterone (water and salt balancing).
- Testes in males: Testosterone (male sex hormone)
- Ovaries in females: Estrogen, Progesterone (female sex hormones)
All sex hormones are present in both sexes but in varying amounts.
- Pineal gland: Melatonin (sleep/wake cycle regulation).
- Pituitary gland: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (stimulating the thyroid gland), Follicle Stimulating Hormone, Luteinizing Hormone (stimulating the ovaries and testes). Human Growth Hormone.
- Hypothalamus gland: Oxytocin (behaviors and emotions), Vasopressin (water level regulation).
- Thyroid and Parathyroid glands: Thyroid hormones T3, T4, and Calcitonin (thyroid function and metabolism), Parathyroid Hormone (calcium breakdown).
- Pancreatic islets: Insulin, glucagon (glucose regulation), Ghrelin (appetite regulation).
Hormonal imbalances aren’t reserved only for adults. The first natural imbalance occurs in the form of puberty, when the specific sexual organs and functions start maturing in children at a certain age. (9-14 for girls and 10-14 for boys). This is not a set limit though, as most children with delayed puberty eventually undergo puberty later but before age 18.
In some children, however, ‘Hypogonadism’ may delay puberty, resulting in:
- Minimal body hair growth, underdeveloped muscle mass, shrill voice, breast enlargement, disproportionate arm and leg growth, and impaired penis and testicular growth in boys.
- Delayed or no periods, underdeveloped breasts, and stunted growth in girls.
Hormonal imbalance presents in numerous different ways according to the gland affected. These symptoms can also serve as ‘effects’ of hormonal imbalance, with some common shared signs being:
- Changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and/or blood sugar levels
- A neck bulge or fatty hump between shoulders
- Irritability, anxiety, and depression
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Frequent or reduced urination
- Appetite changes and bloating
- Increased cold/heat sensitivity
- Unexplained, chronic fatigue
- Pink or purple stretch marks
- Very dry skin or rashes
- Thinning, brittle hair
- Reduced sex drive
- Excess sweating
- Sleep problems
- Increased thirst
- Tender breasts
- Blurred vision
- Weak bones
- Vaginal dryness
- Deepened voice
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Non-menstrual uterine bleeding
- Acneduring or before menstruation
- Enlarged clitoris (outer lip of vagina)
- Excess facial, neck, chest, or back hair
- Darkened skin along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
- Low sperm count
- Reduced body hair
- Breast enlargement
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Reduced muscle mass
Aside from natural, scheduled imbalances, some medical conditions may also disrupt the function of different endocrine glands. These conditions can either be chronic and/or lifestyle-related like diabetes, thyroid dysfunction, stress and anxiety, obesity, a poor diet, or continued exposure to pesticides and other harmful chemicals; or genetic like Cushing’s Syndrome, Addison’s Disease and Turner Syndrome.
Cancers of the endocrine glands and certain birth control medication can also cause a hormonal imbalance. In addition, early menopause, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (high testosterone levels) and Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (loss of normal ovary function) are some hormone-disrupting medical conditions exclusive to women. whereas hypogonadism (low testosterone and/or high estrogen) causes hormonal imbalance in men.
Hormonal imbalances caused by medical conditions further expose the body to other diseases, which is why any signs of an imbalance must not be ignored and reported immediately.
You can also book an appointment with a top Endocrinologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your hormonal concerns.