Did you know the human body contains almost 50 different hormones? Some hormones that may be familiar include estrogen, insulin and cortisol. However, there are lesser-known hormones such as prostaglandins, which aids tissue repair. All these hormones together regulate many parts of the body, including reproduction, growth and mood. While some symptoms of a hormone imbalance are well-known, there are some signs that may surprise you. Keep reading to learn more about some surprising hormonal symptoms.
What is hormone imbalance?
Hormones are part of the endocrine system, which regulates chemical messages throughout the body. The endocrine system regulates hormones that control your metabolism, reproduction and growth. Today, men’s and women’s hormone levels are more imbalanced than in the past. Compared to two decades ago, the average testosterone levels of men have decreased at least 15%. For women, about 10% live with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, caused by reproductive hormone imbalance. This change has many causes, but some can be attributed to the use of tap water, certain personal hygiene products, chronic stress and sleep deprivation.
What are the symptoms of hormone imbalance?
When you think of hormone imbalance, what do you think are common symptoms? For most, it’s menopause or erectile dysfunction. While these are two common symptoms, there are many more that may affect the entire body. Men and women may have similar symptoms, though there are some that are specific to each gender. The most common symptoms for men include:
- Low sex drive
- Weight gain and muscle loss
- Decreased bone mass
- Mood changes
- Trouble concentrating
- Elevated blood sugar
- High cholesterol
For women, the most common symptoms include:
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Low sex drive
- Weight gain
- Mood changes
- Discomfort during intercourse
Endocrine and reproductive conditions are usually caused by imbalanced hormones. Some of the most common endocrine conditions include PCOS, diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s disease and more. However, there are also some lesser-known symptoms that people may not consider signs of hormonal imbalance. These can include hair loss, cold extremities, trouble sleeping, depression or anxiety and skin conditions.
Some hair loss every day is normal. In fact, most people lose about 50 to 100 strands of hair per day. However, what you may not consider is that your hair loss may be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. Men may lose body and facial hair and both men and women may experience scalp hair loss. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is similar to testosterone and can impact hair. DHT can shrink hair follicles causing male and female pattern hair loss. While DHT imbalance can cause hair, other hormones may also contribute to hair loss. In women, it is most common during menopause. When estrogen and progesterone drop, hair can grow more slowly and thin.
Cold Hands and Feet
Do you have cold hands and feet often? If so, it might be a sign of an underactive thyroid. The thyroid is the energy powerhouse of the body and an underactive thyroid can impair the body’s ability to create energy. Hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels) can slow down metabolism and decrease energy. Some people with hypothyroidism can cause low basal body temperature (BBT), which is the low body temperature you have during rest. This can decrease the amount of heat your body produces, which means less energy. Low metabolism and energy can also cause slower fat burning and weight gain.
Trouble sleeping is both a symptom and cause of hormonal imbalance. Some sleeplessness is common, especially in times of great stress but routine or disruptive sleeplessness is not normal or healthy for the body. Your body needs sleep for hormones to do its jobs. Sleep can particularly be affected by an imbalance of testosterone and estrogen. Sleeplessness is more common in women, especially during menopause. Hot flashes and night sweats may impair sleep. However, men may experience it, too. When hormones are balanced, you may also experience deeper sleep in addition to a more normal sleep pattern.
Depression or Anxiety
Hormonal imbalance doesn’t just cause physical symptoms. It may also cause emotional, psychological and mental side effects that change the way you think or feel. The stress of hormone changes may make you more prone to anxiety and depression. In particular, your thyroid production and estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol and insulin levels may influence your mental and psychological health. Stress is normal, but it shouldn’t affect your everyday life more days than not. If you have anxiety attacks or symptoms of depression, like trouble getting out of bed, you should seek help from your doctor or mental health counselor.
Skin problems are normal with hormonal changes. Typically, skin symptoms that don’t respond to typical treatment plans may be a sign of hormone imbalance. Acne is the most common that usually starts with puberty. Low estrogen or progesterone levels and high levels of androgen can cause hormonal acne. This is common during puberty, pregnancy, menstrual cycles, perimenopause, menopause and high-stress situations. In addition, itchy or dry skin are also common. Women during menopause may experience extremely dry skin or eczema due to loss of estrogen. Moreover, loss of estrogen can cause wrinkles and also slow down collagen production, which controls skin elasticity. Stress from hormone imbalance can cause flareups of psoriasis and other autoimmune conditions.
Do you have any of these surprising hormonal symptoms?
If you have strange symptoms or think you may have a hormonal imbalance, you should talk to your doctor. Common symptoms of hormone imbalance are well-known, but these lesser-known symptoms may not appear related to hormones. Hair loss, cold hands and feet, difficulty sleeping, depression, anxiety and skin problems can all be signs of an imbalance. If you have sudden changes in mood, weight, appetite, sleep pattern or brain fog, it may be time to see a primary care provider to have your hormone levels tested.
Crump Medical is a concierge medical practice in Chattanooga, Tennessee providing men’s and women’s internal medicine, preventive care and hormone therapy. Dr. Chip Crump engages and educates his patients to help them achieve reasonable health goals through individualized dietary, supplement and fitness plans.
To learn more, please contact us today.
Last updated September 4, 2020.