Hormones are vital to your body system and your general well-being. However, if you are still wondering what hormones mean, well, hormones are the chemical messengers sent by some parts of your body to coordinate the activities of the other parts of your body.
Hormones are produced by a type of glands known as the endocrine glands. These glands are known as ductless glands which means they have no ducts hence they secrete their contents directly into the bloodstream.
These chemical messengers which are very powerful and quite fast travel all around your body system through your bloodstream giving instructions to tissues and organs telling them what needs to be done.
Majority of the processes that are undergone by the body are controlled chemically by hormones. Processes such as reproduction and metabolism are not left out; they are also controlled by hormones.
Now imagine, if there is an issue with either the hormones or the sources that produce them, there will be disruptions all around the body. When the organs which produce hormones produce either too much or too little, then it will lead to what is known as HORMONAL IMBALANCE.
Hormonal imbalance affects even the tiniest body process you can think of, and this is because everything that goes on in the body is controlled by hormones. Because of how essential they are to the body, any slight change in their levels in the body will affect the body’s output.
While sometimes, it is normal for the hormonal levels to fluctuate and change every once in a while simply because of the natural aging of the body, however, if the fluctuations exceed the normal limit or if there is an external factor causing a change in the normal levels, the body will begin to have problems. However, what then causes the fluctuations in the normal levels of hormones in the body?
It is a regular occurrence for everyone to experience periods where they usually will observe a change in the hormonal levels in the body at some points in their lives. However, there are times when there are abnormal fluctuations which are caused by some unnatural causes within the body.
These hormonal imbalances can occur as a result of a problem with the endocrine glands, i.e. when the endocrine glands begin to malfunction. The primary function of endocrine glands is to produce, store and release chemical messengers(hormones) in the blood.
So if anything goes wrong with the endocrine glands, there will be hormonal imbalances throughout the entire body. There are several endocrine glands that are located around the body, and they include adrenal glands located on top of the kidneys, the male and female gonads (testis and ovaries), pineal gland, pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, and the islets of the pancreas.
Note: These endocrine glands do not control the same systems. This means that each secretion gotten from each of these glands are for different and specific organs. No two different secretions give out the same command to the same organ.
There are some medications and medical conditions that can affect the production of these endocrine glands. Environmental factors and some certain lifestyles can also influence asides medical conditions and drugs, the functionality of these endocrine organs.
The different causes of hormonal imbalances include
Chronic or Severe stress, diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus (type 1 and type 2 diabetes), the overproduction of glycogen also known as hyperglycemia, the reduced production of glycogen also known as hypoglycemia, the reduced production of thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland also known as hypothyroidism, the increased production of thyroid hormone also known as hyperthyroidism, the overproduction of parathyroid hormone, the reduced production of parathyroid hormones, malnutrition, poor nutrition, unbalanced diet, overweight, and so on.
Medical conditions and medications can also cause hormonal imbalances. Drugs such as hormonal replacement medications, birth control medications, abuse of steroidal medicines, solitary intake nodules, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy can cause hormonal imbalances
Medical conditions like pituitary tumours, Cushing syndrome resulting from high levels of the stress hormone known as cortisol, Addison’s disease resulting from the low levels of aldosterone and cortisol, endocrine gland injury, infections, severe allergic reactions, and benign tumours and cysts which affects the endocrine glands.
Others include low levels of cortisol gotten from birth known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia, any type of cancer that affects the endocrine gland, any injury that affects the endocrine gland, iodine deficiency (goiters), hereditary pancreatitis, Turner syndrome that occurs when a female comes out with only one X chromosome, and anorexia.
Symptoms of Hormonal imbalances
There are different symptoms of hormonal imbalances in men, women and children. This means that the symptoms experienced by men will be different from the symptoms experienced by women.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalances in Men include
It is normal for men to once in a while experience hormonal imbalances during their lifetime as a result of aging and aging. However, in men when they have medical conditions such as prostate cancer and hypogonadism, they will experience fluctuations in their hormonal levels.
The different symptoms that will be experienced by men when they have hormonal imbalances include:
- Low libido also is known as low sex drive
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low sperm count
- Reduced muscle and body mass
- Reduced body hair growth.
- Presence of breasts( especially when there is an over secretion of certain hormones)
- Tenderness of breasts
- Brittle bones also are known as osteoporosis.
- Having immense difficulties in concentrating most especially while reading or doing a chore
- Hot flashes
- A decrease in beard and hair growth.
Symptoms of Hormonal imbalances in women
For women, throughout their lifetime, they usually experience several periods of hormonal changes, initially during the puberty stages, during ovulation and menstruation, during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, and during menopause (perimenopause, menopause, post-menopause).
Women are more at a higher risk of developing hormonal imbalance disorders much more than men, and this is because they have different endocrine glands and body cycles than the men. Asides the natural causes of hormonal imbalances, there are some medical conditions that can result in women having this disorders, and they are:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): This is one of the major medical causes of hormonal imbalances in women.
- Hormonal replacement drugs
- Birth Control Medications
- Primary ovarian insufficiency(POI)
- Ovarian cancer
- Early menopause
Symptoms of Hormonal imbalances in women include
- Heavy periods that can be very painful and may be regular or irregular.
- Weak and brittle bones also known as osteoporosis
- Intense internal heat cause hot flashes and night flashes
- Vaginal dryness even after sexual stimulations
- Presence of tender breasts.
- Constipation and severe diarrhoea
- Acne during and after menstruation
- Uterine bleeds not associated with menstruation
- Increased and accelerated hair growth on the face, back, neck, and/or chest.
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Abnormal skin growths
- Deepening of the voice
- The enlargement of the clitoris.
- The intense pain felt during sex
In children likewise, there are symptoms of hormonal imbalances that can be noticed. During the time of puberty, it is expected that children should begin to experience the production of sex hormones in their bodies.
However, some kids may tend to have delayed puberty. Even with them experiencing delayed puberty, when it eventually comes, some will go on to experience normal puberty. However, some children may end up having a disease condition known as hypogonadism.
The symptoms of hypogonadism differ between boys and girls. For boys, the Symptoms they will experience includes:
- Underdevelopment of the body and muscle mass
- The voice won’t deepen or become thick
- They will experience undergrowth of the body hair
- There will be an impairment in the growth of both the penis and the testicles
- Excessive growth of the arms and the legs in relation to the trunk and the body growth
- They will begin to experience gynecomastia which is the development of the breast tissue. This means that they may start to develop breasts like girls.
The symptoms of hypogonadism in girls include
- The lack of a menstrual cycle: This means that they will not experience the monthly menstrual cycle.
- The underdevelopment of their breast tissues: This means that they will not develop breasts.
- They will have stunted growth: This means that there will be no increase in their growth rate.
Once patients begin to experience hormonal imbalances, they are advised to see their physicians immediately. One of the worst conditions caused by hormonal imbalances is infertility. It is the leading cause of infertility both in men and in women.
For children, once their parents begin to notice the hormonal imbalances in their kids, the parents should immediately take them to see the child doctor in order to avoid problems in the future.