Your body contains chemical messengers called hormones. The production of your hormones takes place in your endocrine glands. Your hormones travel throughout your bloodstream to provide your organs and tissues with instructions for what they need to do. This is partially how numerous key processes in your body are controlled such as your reproductive system and metabolism. When a hormone imbalance occurs, it means your body does not have enough or has too much of a specific hormone. Even the smallest imbalance can have a serious impact on your entire body. Your hormones are similar to a recipe in the sense that if all of the ingredients are not properly balanced, your recipe will not be quite right. Some levels will fluctuate during the course of your life due to natural aging. Other levels can become imbalanced when your endocrine system makes a mistake. Fortunately, there is a simple way to assess your hormone levels. We’re talking about hormone testing.
Your hormones are extremely important for your general health. This is the reason so many symptoms may indicate an imbalance. The symptoms you experience will depend on which glands have failed to work correctly and the specific hormones affected. The most common symptoms of an imbalance for both men and women include:
• A decrease or increase in heart rate
• Swelling, stiffness or pain in the joints
• The need to urinate frequently
• Puffiness in the face
• Gaining weight
• Becoming hungry more often
• Irritability, anxiety or nervousness
• Sudden or unexplained weight loss
• Having bowel movements more often or constipation
• Roundness of the face
• Blurry vision
• An increase in thirst
• Dry skin
• Pink or purple stretch marks
• Increased sensitivity to either heat or cold
• A fatty hump located between the shoulders
• Brittle, fine or thinning hair
• Weakness in the muscles
• A decrease or loss of sex drive
• Muscle stiffness, tenderness or aches
One of the most important factors of male development is testosterone. If a man is not producing enough of this hormone, a wide range of symptoms can occur including:
• Tenderness of the breasts
• The loss of bone mass or osteoporosis
• A decreased or lost sex drive
• Erectile dysfunction (ED)
• A decrease in body hair and beard growth
• Difficulty with concentration
• Developing excess breast tissue
• Hot flashes
• Losing muscle mass
The most common symptom of a hormone imbalance in women is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This can result from natural changes in the normal hormone cycle. This includes puberty, menopause, pregnancy and breastfeeding. The symptoms of an imbalance include:
• Acne on the chest, face or upper back
• Skin tags
• Night sweats
• Excessive hair on the body, chin or face called hirsutism
• Vaginal atrophy
• Painful sex
• Hair loss or thinning hair
• Skin darkening beneath the breasts, along the groin or in the neck creases
• Difficulty losing weight or weight gain
• Vaginal dryness
• Irregular or heavy menstruation including missed, stopped or frequent menstruation
Both girls and boys begin producing sex hormones during puberty. A lot of children with a delayed onset of puberty will still go through normal puberty. Some children develop hypogonadism. This condition has different symptoms for girls and boys. Girls will not start menstruation, their rate of growth will not increase and there is no development of breast tissue. The symptoms for boys include:
• The voice doesn’t deepen
• An impairment in testicle and penis growth
• The growth of the legs and arms is excessive
• No development of muscle mass
• Sparse growth of body hair
• The development of breast tissue or gynecomastia
There are a lot of different reasons your hormones can become unbalanced. Depending on which glands or hormones have been affected, the most common causes can include:
• An underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism
• A variety of different eating disorders
• Hormone therapy
• Cushing syndrome
• Adrenal insufficiency
• Trauma or injury
• Cancerous or benign tumors
• Treatments for cancer
• Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules
• Overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism
• Pituitary tumor
• Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
A lot of imbalances in the female body concern the reproductive hormones. The most common causes for this type of imbalance include:
• Premature menopause
• Primary ovarian insufficiency
• Drugs containing hormones such as birth control pills
A Closer Look at Hormone Testing
The process for hormone testing typically starts by scheduling a physical examination with a professional. You will need to describe your symptoms and exactly when you have experienced them. You will need to provide a list of all of your supplements, vitamins and medications you are currently using. The professional will ask you a lot of questions which may include:
• The frequency in which you are experiencing symptoms
• The date of your last menstruation
• If you have recently gained or lost weight
• If you are experiencing pain or vaginal dryness during sex
• If you have plans to become pregnant
• Anything that provides relief for your symptoms
• If you are experiencing greater levels of stress than normal
• If you are having difficulty having or maintaining an erection
Hormone testing with diagnostic tests may be recommended by the professional. You can also request the professional to perform this type of testing. The most common hormone testing includes:
• Blood test: A sample of your blood will be taken by the professional and analyzed for hormone testing. The majority of hormones are detectable in your blood. Blood tests can be used to check your cortisol, testosterone, estrogen and thyroid levels to determine if there is a hormone imbalance.
• Ultrasound: Sound waves may be used to see inside of your body. This test may be used to see images of the pituitary gland, thyroid, testicles, ovaries or uterus.
• Pelvic exam: This test is for women only and is used to locate any tumors, cysts or unusual lumps.
• Scrotum exam: The professional checks for any abnormalities or lumps in the scrotum.
In some instances, further testing is necessary. This may include an MRI, thyroid scan, biopsy, x-ray or sperm count. A hormonal imbalance can also cause acne. Acne results from clogged pores caused by too much oil production. The most common areas for acne are where the oil glands are located. This includes the face, upper back, chest and shoulders. Acne often results from pubescent hormonal changes. There is also an established link between hormones and acne. One of the contributors to acne for both males and females is called androgens. This is a factor because of overstimulation of the oil glands. High androgen levels are experienced by both boys and girls throughout puberty. This is the reason acne occurs so often during this time. During the early twenties, the androgen levels typically go back to normal.
One of the most common triggers for acne is the menstrual cycle. The week before the menstrual cycle begins, acne often develops and then clears up. Hormone testing is recommended by numerous professionals for females with acne when other symptoms are present. This includes excess body or facial hair and irregular periods. A low thyroid hormone level is common for individuals with hypothyroidism. This is because their metabolism is not working the way it should. When an individual has this condition, they can still put on weight when following a healthy and low-calorie diet. Your hormones are extremely important for your metabolism and the ability of your body to use energy. Disorders such as Cushing syndrome and hypothyroidism can cause a person to become obese or overweight. The only way to successfully treat weight gain linked to a hormone disorder is to address the underlying condition.
A lot of women experience weight gain during menopause. This is because the metabolism starts to slow down. Even if the woman is performing the same exercise routine and consuming the same diet, she can still begin gaining weight. When a woman becomes pregnant, her body experiences significant hormonal changes even when the pregnancy is healthy and normal. This is not the same thing as when the hormones become imbalanced. Cushing syndrome is another good example due to the high amount of cortisol present in the blood. This results in a larger appetite, resulting in more fat storage. Temporary hair loss can also result from hormonal changes or an imbalance. This is often linked to the beginning of menopause, childbirth or pregnancy for women. Hair loss can also result from an under- or overproduction of thyroid hormones. Hair loss in men is generally caused by heredity as opposed to hormonal changes.
The main cause of infertility issues is an imbalance. This includes PCOS. When a woman has PCOS, this imbalance can interfere with ovulation. If a woman is not ovulating, she will be unable to become pregnant. Women with PCOS can still become pregnant by using prescription medications for the stimulation of ovulation or simply by losing weight. The most frequently recommended treatment is balancing the hormones. If the medication does not work and the hormones remain unbalanced, in vitro fertilization (IVF) becomes an option. The temporary restoration of ovulation through surgery is always the last resort. PCOS can also lead to numerous issues during pregnancy for both the mother and the baby. The risks for many different conditions increase including:
• Gestational diabetes
• A high birth weight
• Cesarean section
The risk of birth defects when the mother has hypothyroidism increases. This includes having a child with severe developmental and intellectual issues. An imbalance has also been linked to numerous long-term or chronic health conditions. If the woman does not receive the appropriate treatment, she may be at risk for numerous and severe medical issues including:
• Heart disease
• Anxiety or depression
• Breast cancer
• Bone loss or osteoporosis
• Urinary incontinence
• Sleep apnea
• Loss of muscle mass
• High cholesterol
• Sexual dysfunction
• High blood pressure
• Kidney damage
• Endometrial cancer
Treatments for a Hormone Imbalance
The best hormone treatment is dependant on the cause of the imbalance. The most common options for treatment include:
• Estrogen therapy: When women are experiencing the more uncomfortable menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, the professional may prescribe estrogen therapy. The benefits of this option will be thoroughly explained by the professional.
• Anti-androgen medications: Androgens are classified as a male sex hormone found in both men and women. If the level of androgens is too high in a woman, medications can be used for blocking the associated effects.
• Metformin: This medication is for type 2 diabetes. Metformin can offer some relief for women with the symptoms of PCOS. The medication can encourage ovulation and assist in decreasing the level of androgens.
• Testosterone therapy: Testosterone therapy can be used to decrease low testosterone symptoms in men.
• Thyroid hormone therapy: For individuals with hypothyroidism, thyroid hormone therapy is often prescribed. The medication can correct a hormone imbalance.
One of the most common hormone treatments is called hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Generally speaking, this involves the use of bio-identical hormone pills, gels and creams. The treatment can also be performed using hormone injections, patches or pellets. The correct option for your specific needs will be determined by the professional with your input.
In 1939, pellet therapy became available in the United States. This method is used for bio-identical hormones because it is sustainable. This is an excellent option for an imbalance treatment to restore vitality and health for those experiencing the symptoms of an imbalance. The effect achieved with pellets is almost identical to the natural production of hormones in a healthy adult. This type of hormone replacement therapy is convenient and easy because the pellets last for a long time. The procedure takes place in the comfort of our office.
The pellets can contain either testosterone or estrogen. The pellets react to what your body needs. Additional hormones are secreted the same way your body would naturally when you are exercising or stressed. A lot of individuals notice the difference quite quickly. You may need as long as weeks before you begin to feel the full effects. This is an excellent option for relief from the symptoms of a hormone imbalance.
If you believe you may have a hormone imbalance, you owe it to yourself to undergo hormone testing with the professionals at Peak Medical Clinic. We have offices located in Klamath Falls, OR, Medford, OR, Roseburg, OR and Eugene, OR. Contact us today to book an appointment and get started.