The Dangers of Imbalanced Hormones in Your Body
As a lifelong athlete, you know that taking care of your body is key. Staying hydrated, eating a balanced diet, and letting your body rest are crucial to staying healthy and preventing injuries. But what does it mean when you’re taking care of yourself yet your body is still exhausted, your skin is changing, and your mood isn’t stabilized? The likely cause is your hormones.
What do hormones do to the body?
Hormones play a vital role in our bodies throughout our lives, not just during puberty. They are chemicals–or chemical messengers–that travel through your blood to your muscles, skin, organs, and other tissues. Hormones tell your body what to do and when, which is why they’re so important to your health. There are over fifty different hormones with unique functions, so if one of them is unbalanced it can pose a dangerous risk for you.
Your endocrine system produces each hormone and each presents a different function. They regulate many areas of your body including your appetite, metabolism, stress levels, mood, and more. Your endocrine system is responsible for producing and regulating hormone production, making them vital to healing injuries. At MedLink Health Solutions, we incorporate hormone therapy and treatment with our naturopathic approach so that we can treat the whole body–and not just mask your symptoms.
Hormones in men
Hormones are present in both men and women, but differ mainly in the sex organs. Men have about twenty times more testosterone than women, and also undergo a hormone cycle (although it’s much different than women’s). Instead of a thirty day cycle, men’s hormones cycle through their bodies every 24 hours. Testosterone peaks in the morning, levels in the afternoon, and dips in the evening.
Testosterone can spike when a man drinks alcohol or caffeine or when he’s playing a competitive sport. Imbalanced hormones in the body can be dangerous with any hormone, but if a man is suffering from imbalanced or low testosterone, he may be experiencing:
Symptoms of hormone imbalance in men can include:
- Loss of muscle mass and strength
- A decrease in body and facial hair
- A decrease in mood and energy
- Loss of their sex drive, and more
Hormones in women
The main hormones in women’s bodies are estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen is produced in the ovaries, with small amounts coming from fat cells and the adrenal glands. It is responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle and affects the bones, skin, breasts, urinary tract, pelvic muscles, and more. Progesterone on the other hand is produced in the ovaries. It prepares the lining of the uterus for a fertilized egg to implant and grow. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus lining sheds during the menstrual period.
When either of these hormones are imbalanced, many symptoms can occur. But because these symptoms can overlap with other issues or feel subtle, it’s important to be vigilant and talk to your doctor if you suspect you’re suffering from hormone imbalance.
Symptoms of hormone imbalance in women can include:
- Night sweats
- Changes in appetite
- A swollen face
- Mood swings
- Difficult and unexpected weight gain or loss
- Thinning hair, and more
Luckily, routine blood tests can help you stay balanced and on track. A blood test can detect sneaky, hidden issues that you have no idea about because they are in the early stages. Several diseases are much more difficult to treat when they are caught late, which is why it’s so important to keep your health in check. Keeping your hormones balanced is key to keeping you active and healthy.
What is hormonal imbalance?
As you can see, your hormones and endocrine system play a vital role in your mind and body functioning properly. When they’re imbalanced they can start a dangerous domino effect on your health that will be much more difficult to correct later on.
When your hormones are imbalanced, your body is creating too much or not enough of a certain hormone. Unfortunately, many people are quick to brush off their symptoms as minor inconveniences because their symptoms aren’t glaring. Hot flashes, exhaustion, and problems with your bowel movements may not sound like long-term issues, but they can be if you don’t get your hormones tested. Some hormones fluctuate naturally throughout your life and may be the result of aging (such as menopause) but more often than not, it’s your endocrine glands that are misfiring and causing you agony.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance
Because your hormones are crucial to several functions in your body, it’s important to keep an eye out for any abnormal changes. Even if your symptoms appear to be mild, they may be an underlying signal that a much bigger issue could be going on.
Symptoms of hormone imbalance include:
- Unexpected changes in your weight (weight gain or loss)
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Increased and severe thirst
- Changes in appetite
- Pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints
- Muscles aches, stiffness, and tenderness
- Abnormal heart rate
- Anxiety or increased irritability
- Changes to your skin
- Changes to your vision
- Thinning or brittle hair
- Puffy or rounded face
- Depression, and more
Causes of hormonal imbalance
It’s normal and expected for your hormones to fluctuate throughout your life, and even throughout the day. Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause are the three big events where these dramatic changes occur, but sometimes it is due to taking certain medications, extreme stress, your diet, using steroids, or health conditions such as autoimmune conditions, endocrine gland injuries, and more.
Lifestyle habits and environmental factors can also play a role in the current state of your hormones. If you do not have an active lifestyle or partake in a healthy diet with regular checkups, you may be at risk for certain imbalances and conditions.
There are other sneaky environmental factors that can disrupt your hormones as well. Did you know that your favorite scented candles often contain phthalates? Phthalates are endocrine disrupting chemicals that have been found to promote fertility issues and cancer. It’s important to be aware of where and how your products are created, not just your food.
Even common plastics contain hazardous chemicals that are harmful to your health. Synthetic chemicals in products can mimic hormones, meaning that they can disrupt the delicate balance of your endocrine system. Bisphenol-A, or BPA contains phthalates that are dangerous, and it’s unfortunately impossible to avoid plastic completely. BPA is even found in cans and cleaning products, making it highly likely that you’ve come into close contact with it.
Thankfully, hormone imbalances are likely to be temporary and can be recalibrated with the proper treatment. With chronic hormone-related conditions however, it’s more difficult to balance due to the differentiating factors especially if you have not been diagnosed. If you suffer from an autoimmune condition your immune system decides to attack a gland or organ that produces hormones, forcing a hormonal imbalance. This leads to a series of uncomfortable symptoms in your body that you do not want to ignore.
The dangers of hormonal imbalances in your body
Surprisingly, the most dangerous thing about hormonal imbalance is not the symptom itself, but what it may represent. It’s possible that your body is reacting with chemical changes due to a deeper issue that isn’t yet apparent–and if left untreated, can become extremely dangerous.
In women, hormonal imbalance can signify polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), ovarian cancer, and early onset menopause, among other serious conditions. Men may be experiencing symptoms of prostate cancer as well as other serious health issues and be completely unaware.
You only have one body, and you should take care of it as best you can. But even the biggest health enthusiasts can experience these imbalances and shrug them off as minor sickness and pay the consequences later.
If you believe you are experiencing symptoms related to hormone imbalance, do not hesitate to talk to your doctor. Something as “normal” in your life as fatigue could be part of a much bigger issue.
The most common types of hormone imbalances
Hormone imbalances can happen to men or women, but you may be more likely to have a certain imbalance over another due to your gender. Remember, hormone imbalance symptoms can be sneaky so it’s important to pay attention to any new changes happening to your body.
The most common hormonal imbalances in men and women include:
- Low testosterone in men
- High testosterone in women
- High estrogen levels
- Thyroid hormone imbalance
- Insulin imbalance
- Cortisol imbalance
The connection between hormonal imbalances and your body not healing
As an athlete, you’re well aware of the painful yet crucial role inflammation plays with your body. Your body knows when it’s hurt and inflammation is triggered in order to begin the healing process. It may be inconvenient to miss a pickleball game or two, but your body will pay the consequences if you do not allow it to heal.
Your hormones don’t become imbalanced randomly. They respond to the ecosystem of your body: your emotions, your diet, your thoughts–they all play a role in how your body functions. Taking care of your health starts from within and as a whole. In naturopathic medicine, we believe in treating you as a whole human being rather than a body part suffering from symptoms. When your hormones aren’t in alignment it’s difficult for the rest of your body to function properly, which is why it’s so important to take a deeper look into every aspect of your life.
How can I check my hormone levels?
At MedLink Health Solutions, we provide thorough consultations to get to know you and properly treat you. This includes blood tests to check your hormone levels, micronutrient levels, and more. Your physician will determine your hormone levels to detect deeper health issues that are not visible on the surface and prevent future issues. Take note of any symptoms you have and freely discuss them with your doctor so you can receive a proper diagnosis.
For your first blood draw you may need to fast. Our team is quick with phlebotomy appointments and we usually get results back within 1-2 weeks. In addition to detecting your hormone levels, blood tests can also detect certain diseases, food intolerances and allergies, and more. Our office conducts a comprehensive metabolic panel, a complete hormone and thyroid panel, a food sensitivity profile, micronutrient assays, and more.
For more information on the benefits of routine blood work, click here to check out our previous blog.
How to treat hormonal imbalances naturally
It’s completely possible to treat hormonal imbalances, but the treatment plan varies on what’s causing the imbalance in the first place. Traditional Western medicine will often prescribe medication or hormone therapy that come with their own dangerous side effects.
Natural medicine, on the other hand, works in conjunction with your body. Your body was made intelligently and works hard to maintain it. By looking at your body as a whole, we work with each of our patients to find the root cause of your issue–not masking it with dangerous prescription drugs. By recalibrating certain lifestyle habits you will feel the difference from within.
A few ways to balance hormones naturally are:
- Regular exercise
- Resetting your hormones with a whole foods, plant-based diet (or eating more plants in general)
- Avoiding alcohol and processed foods
- Prioritizing quality sleep
Feel the MedLink difference
At MedLink Health Solutions we take pride in bringing hospitality to healthcare. We are not your typical doctor’s office and strive to change the lives of everyone that walks through our doors. Unlike a traditional doctor’s office, you are seen as an individual and not a number. We treat you with compassion and love to see our patients thrive. Our patients look forward to their visits because they are part of our family.
Do not wait to get tested
Do not become a statistic. Your hormones play a vital role in your health and no symptom should go ignored. By taking charge of your health you can return to the golf course, pickleball court, or gym sooner than you know it. Feel the MedLink difference, and schedule your appointment today.