Having balanced hormones is essential for a well-functioning body. Hormones regulate everything in your body – heart rate, metabolism, mood, reproduction, sleep cycles, and more. But certain habits can make these chemicals malfunction, leading to a hormonal imbalance in your system. If your body produces too much or too little hormones, it can cause problems that seriously impact your quality of life.
It’s important to understand how your body works and what symptoms to watch out for to know if you might be suffering from a hormonal imbalance. The treatment for hormonal imbalances often involves certain lifestyle changes that can help reboot your system and get your body back in balance. Here’s a handy guide to everything you want to know about hormonal imbalances.
If you are experiencing an imbalance, schedule a free discovery call with our team.
What Is a Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormonal imbalances occur in men and women when the body produces too much or too little of a hormone. Endocrine glands produce hormones, which are then secreted directly into your body to travel through your bloodstream so they can tell your body what to do.
Hormones tell your body when to go to sleep, when to eat, and even when to grow. They regulate most major bodily processes, so even the smallest imbalance can affect the whole body. And when one hormone is thrown out of balance, it can affect others, leading to a snowball effect of malfunctioning hormones.
What Are the Most Common Types of Hormonal Imbalance?
Your body secretes and circulates about 50 different hormones, but here are the five that are most commonly imbalanced.
- Cortisol is your body’s primary stress hormone and is best known for producing your body’s “fight or flight” response. But it plays many other roles in your body, such as controlling blood sugar levels, regulating metabolism, battling inflammation, and assisting with memory formation.
Chronic stress often leads to a cortisol imbalance. Too much or too little cortisol could result in mood swings, weight gain, low libido, and chronic fatigue.
- Estrogen is the main sex hormone in women. It controls your menstrual cycle, regulates cholesterol, supports bone health, and affects your mood. Symptoms of imbalanced estrogen levels include weight gain, mood disorders, fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, and low libido.
An estrogen imbalance in men can also cause problems. Symptoms of too much estrogen in men include sexual dysfunction, infertility, weight gain, loss of muscle mass, and diabetes.
- Progesterone is most often associated with supporting menstruation and pregnancy. Signs of a progesterone imbalance are abnormal periods, anxiety, depression, and migraines.
Progesterone in men can help regulate estrogen levels if they experience an imbalance.
- Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men. Typically, testosterone levels decline as you age, but lifestyle factors are causing younger and younger men to experience an imbalance. Chronic stress, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and environmental toxins can lead to low testosterone levels.
High testosterone levels can cause symptoms like oily skin, acne, facial hair, and male-pattern baldness. Symptoms of low testosterone levels include lethargy, muscle weakness, low libido, and weight gain.
Women also produce testosterone in smaller amounts and will experience different effects than men if the hormone is out of balance.
- Insulin regulates glucose in your body and breaks down fat and protein during the metabolic process. Eating too much sugar, feeling constant stress, and not exercising enough can lead to an insulin imbalance, which could eventually lead to Type 2 diabetes. Common symptoms of insulin imbalance include brain fog, dizziness, frequent headaches, and exhaustion.
What Are the Symptoms of a Hormonal Imbalance?
Often when your hormones are unbalanced, your body will let you know. Unable to lose weight, even with a healthy diet and exercise? Mood swings back after months of not being present? Hormonal imbalances could be the culprit. Below are some of the most common symptoms of a hormonal imbalance.
Difficulty waking up and feeling exhausted during the day, even if you’re getting enough sleep, is one of the most common warning signs of a hormonal imbalance. Several hormones could be behind this symptom, but insulin or cortisol imbalances are the most likely culprits.
- Weight Gain
If you haven’t changed your diet or exercise routine but seem to be gaining weight, it could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. Excess estrogen, low thyroid hormones, and insulin resistance are common reasons for hard-to-lose weight.
- Trouble Sleeping
Along with fatigue, difficulty sleeping or insomnia is often the result of a hormonal imbalance. Low testosterone in men or low progesterone in women is often behind this.
- Low Libido
A decreased sex drive can be a sign of low estrogen in women and low testosterone in men.
- Mental Health Issues
Anxiety, irritability, depression, and mood swings are all common symptoms of a hormonal imbalance. Testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol imbalances can lead to mood swings and mood disorders.
- Digestive Troubles
Hormonal imbalances can lead to gas, bloating, and constipation. Estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, or cortisol imbalances are likely to blame.
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
There are many possible causes of hormonal imbalance, depending on which hormones are malfunctioning. Hormonal shifts naturally occur as you age, but they can occur at any age due to poor lifestyle habits. The most common causes of hormonal imbalances include:
- Diet: A diet high in processed foods or sugars can cause hormonal imbalances because they send insulin levels spinning and put your body out of whack.
- Stress: Chronic stress encourages high levels of cortisol over a long period of time. This increase in cortisol causes a chain reaction that often leads to weight gain and an overall hormonal imbalance.
- Too little exercise: Not enough exercise increases stress and can lead to several imbalances in the body. Conversely, exercising too much can cause sex hormones to become unbalanced, leading to an array of health concerns.
- Inadequate sleep: Eating a healthy diet and regular exercise aren’t always enough for a healthy system. Not getting enough sleep at night can lead to hormonal imbalances in the body; it may increase insulin hormones and lead to other imbalances in your body.
- Low blood sugar: You don’t have to be diabetic or pre-diabetic to have low blood sugar. This often-overlooked condition is a common cause of hormonal imbalances.
How Do You Fix Hormonal Imbalance?
If some of the symptoms above sound familiar, here are some lifestyle tips to help you balance your hormones.
- Eat a nutrient-dense diet
Food is the foundation of balancing hormones naturally. Ditch sugar, excess alcohol, and caffeine and instead consume plenty of veggies, healthy fats, and organic proteins to promote hormonal equilibrium.
- Prioritize sleep
If you don’t get enough sleep, cortisol and insulin are negatively impacted, which will keep you in the cycle of hormonal imbalance. Getting solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep is critical to the health of your hormonal systems.
- Move your body
Consistent, moderate exercise will help keep your hormones in check. Just don’t overdo it, as strenuous exercise can negatively impact your hormones.
- Manage your stress
Prolonged stress can lead to hormonal imbalances. Try meditation or implement a new self-care routine to get out of the constant “fight or flight” mode and into the “rest and digest” state.
- Work with a functional medicine practitioner
If you suspect you have a hormone imbalance, it’s best to work with a functional medicine practitioner to determine the best course of action. Tri-Cities Functional Medicine approaches hormonal imbalances from a holistic perspective, using advanced hormone testing and in-depth questionnaires to find out exactly what’s causing your imbalance.
Once the underlying causes have been identified, we work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan to help solve your hormonal imbalance for good.
Struggling with any of these symptoms? Our team is here to help.
Tri-Cities Functional Medicine is located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and serves patients throughout East Tennessee and into Virginia and North Carolina. These areas include but are not limited to: Washington County, TN, Sullivan County, TN, Carter County, TN, Greene County, TN, Knox County, TN, Bristol, TN, Holston Valley, TN, Tri-Cities, TN, Walnut Hill, TN, Elizabethton, TN, Greeneville, TN, Morristown, TN, Blountville, TN, Bluff City, TN, Kingsport, TN, Jonesborough, TN, Colonial Heights, TN, Limestone, TN, Knoxville, TN, Bristol, VA, and Abingdon, VA.