Dr. Christopher Cummins works as a Family Medicine Physician in Oxford. In the following article, Chris Cummins, M.D., discusses the signs and symptoms of imbalanced hormones and how to treat these common issues.
As the body’s chemical messengers, hormones are responsible for everything from physical growth to stress responses. Hormones can become imbalanced due to illness, puberty and menopause, stress, genetic disorders, and even environmental factors, causing a wide range of effects on the body. Luckily, there are ways to spot, diagnose, and treat a hormone imbalance to continue living a healthy life.
Chris Cummins, M.D., Explains What to Look For
Imbalanced hormones can occur naturally within the body or through environmental factors. No matter the cause, an imbalance often calls attention to itself by disrupting daily living. Doctors may suspect a hormonal imbalance if their patient shows any of the following signs.
Dr. Christopher Cummins, Family Medicine, in Oxford explains that several hormones play a crucial role in fertility, including the luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone, progesterone, and prolactin. If a woman has been unsuccessful for at least 6 months, this may be a sign of a hormonal issue.
Irregular or Disruptive Menstrual Cycles
The same hormones mentioned above are also responsible for regular menstrual cycles. The standard cycle ranges from 21 to 35 days.
Dr. Christopher Cummins, Family Medicine, in Oxford says that if a woman has an irregular cycle, excessively heavy cycles, ovarian cysts, or breast discharge while not breastfeeding, she may have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or another hormonal imbalance.
Persistent Weight Gain or Loss
Chris Cummins, M.D., reports that certain hormonal imbalances can cause weight gain, including:
- Menopause: Many women experience hormonal changes and weight gain as metabolism slows during menopause later in life.
- Hypothyroidism: Low levels of thyroid hormone may lead to hypothyroidism, causing weight gain.
- Hyperthyroidism: Too much thyroid hormone may lead to hyperthyroidism, causing weight loss and restlessness.
- Cushing’s syndrome: A less common hormonal imbalance, Cushing’s syndrome, has excess cortisol which may result in rapid weight gain in the face, back of the neck, and chest.
An imbalance in sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone can cause hair loss in both men and women.
Women may also experience an excess of coarse body hair on the face, chin, or other body parts.
Chris Cummins, M.D., explains that acne during puberty is often caused by hormones, but it doesn’t necessarily signal a hormonal imbalance. Adult acne on the face, chest, or upper back, on the other hand, may point to such a case.
Symptoms of Imbalanced Hormones
While signs are objective and measurable, hormonal imbalances also cause symptoms which are experiences reported by those affected. These are often described in a patient’s own words and can vary in intensity and quality. These symptoms also differ between men and women.
Some general common symptoms of imbalanced hormones include:
- Muscle weakness
- Stiffness in the joints
- Decreased sex drive
Symptoms more common in women include:
- Mood Swings
- Increased sensitivity to cold or heat
- Breast tenderness
Symptoms more common in men include:
- Elevated blood sugar
- High cholesterol
- Reduced mental focus
- Loss of muscle mass
Chris Cummins, Family Medicine Physician, says that it’s important to note that having one or multiple symptoms does not automatically point to a hormonal imbalance. Many disorders, diseases, and external causes could cause these symptoms. Follow up with a medical professional for an appropriate diagnosis.
Causes of Imbalanced Hormones
Imbalanced hormones often begin on their own, while certain circumstances or disorders could also initiate or exacerbate them.
Various milestones in life cause a natural change in hormones, including puberty, pregnancy, post-partum, menopause, and time post-partum.
Hormonal Imbalance Caused by External Factors
Chris Cummins, Family Medicine Physician, reports that hormone therapy, medications, certain treatments such as chemotherapy, eating disorders, injury, trauma, and stress may cause a hormonal imbalance.
Conditions that Worsen Hormonal Imbalances
While some of these conditions may form from hormonal changes or issues, these conditions may also exacerbate an imbalance.
- Cancerous or benign tumors
- Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
- Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Addison’s disease
- Damage to an endocrine gland
- Autoimmune conditions
Diagnosing Imbalanced Hormones
Chris Cummins, M.D., says that the best way to diagnose and treat imbalanced hormones is with the help of a medical professional, such as a primary care physician. Since hormones are released directly into the bloodstream, most doctors will begin their evaluation by ordering a blood test after acquiring the patient’s medical history. Some physicians may also issue glucose or insulin tolerance tests.
Dr. Christopher Cummins of Oxford notes that hormonal imbalances can often be treated or managed effectively. Treatment methods will depend on the cause and hormones involved but may include medications, lifestyle changes, dietary changes, stress management, holistic and herbal remedies, or surgical interventions.