Hormones are chemical compounds produced by the body that regulate various physical processes. Hormones are involved in many tasks, such as controlling cell growth, maintaining body temperature, regulating mood and maintaining sexual function. When hormone levels become unbalanced, regulatory changes in the body can cause a variety of puzzling symptoms.
If you notice any of these changes, your physician can do a work-up, which can determine if hormone levels are at the heart of the problem. Making adjustments to your hormones can help you to look better, feel healthier and enjoy a more energetic lifestyle.
Here are a few of the commonly seen signs that your hormones are out of whack:
1. Unexplained weight gain or loss
Irregularities in hormone levels are notorious for causing changes is weight. This effect is one of the chief reasons that people tend to gain weight as they get older, but it can also loss appetite and a decrease in weight. If you have had a change in your weight that is not related to your diet and activity, consider having your hormone levels checked.
Fatigue can be caused by many factors, but fatigue related to hormone imbalance does not respond to dietary changes or changes in lifestyle habits. It can feel incredibly draining too. Thyroid imbalance is the most common cause of fatigue, but other hormones play key roles in regulating your energy, including the hormone cortisol.
3. Insomnia or poor sleep
Hormones play a big part in regulating wake-sleep cycles in the brain. When hormones become imbalanced, the natural balance of brain chemicals is disrupted, and individuals may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. This effect often occurs in women around the age of menopause, when estrogen levels begin to fall, causing a variety of symptoms that can impact sleep such as hot flashes, night sweats and inability to fall asleep.
4. Skin changes, dryness, acne breakouts
Because hormones are involved in the regulation of cell growth and replacement, many women experience skin problems when their hormone levels are out of balance. Flaking, irritation, and unexpected eruptions may occur, creating discomfort and embarrassment. Over-the-counter skin preparations often do not provide sufficient relief for these conditions. You may need to talk to a physician about investigating hormone levels.
5. Irritability or moodiness
Hormones are also responsible for regulating mood. They do this by stimulating brain cells to produce chemicals that help to soothe the individual or produce feelings of pleasure. When hormone levels are imbalanced, these brain chemicals are not available, and the person may exhibit moodiness or irritability.
6. Hot flashes or night sweats
Hormones are directly involved in the body’s ability to regulate temperature. When estrogen levels fall around the time of menopause, individuals can experience hot flashes on-and-off throughout the day. Night sweats can also occur, during which the person wakes during the night drenched in perspiration. This can also occur during various times of a woman’s cycle.
7. Menstrual problems
Low hormone levels in women can cause menstrual irregularities when insufficient estrogen and/or progesterone is available for normal function. Restoring these hormones to appropriate levels can help to relieve many menstrual cycle problems.
8. Loss of libido
Hormones also have the task of maintaining normal sexual characteristics and sex drive. Estrogen, the female hormone that regulates sexual characteristics, naturally decreases significantly after the age of 45 or 50. Testosterone, the male hormone that regulates sexual characteristics, also drops off with advancing age, though more gradually than women’s hormones. These changes can cause a reduction in sex drive that can impact personal relationships. Having a frank discussion with your doctor can initiate an investigation of your hormone levels to see if imbalance is at the heart of the problem.
9. Changes in hair thickness or growing hair in unusual places
When hormone levels become imbalanced, the normal cell division and replacement do not function normally. Hair can become thinner or fall out more easily. Hair follicles in other areas of the body may become stimulated, producing hair in areas where it has not grown before. These changes are signs that your hormones are not functioning as they should.
10. Feeling wired and tired
When hormone levels are out of balance, nervous system function can be affected, leaving the individual feeling edgy and unable to relax. Energy levels can also plummet and yet, you still feel like you can’t fall asleep. This is most common with adrenal fatigue.
11. Craving sweets or salty foods
Insufficient hormones in the body can cause lower levels of feel good brain chemicals, which can lead to cravings for sugary foods or salty foods. These foods help to increase the amount of neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. Adrenal issues are often involved in food cravings.