Imbalances with Sex Hormones

Hormones play a vital role in your body’s functioning, acting as envoys between cells and organs. The endocrine system produces hormones that regulate our bodily functions such as our heart rate, mood, appetite, sleep cycles, sexual function, and reproduction to name a few. Although the aim is to keep our bodies in perfect balance, that is not always an easily achievable task.

Why does hormonal imbalance exist?

In a 2015 study by the Jinnah University for Women in Pakistan, it was concluded that hormonal imbalance has a direct correlation with factors such as food intake, drug use, and work-life balance. It goes without saying that biological life events such as puberty, pregnancy, postpartum, and menopause (andropause in males) also have significant influences on the overall hormonal balance. Aging or diseases contracted throughout human life also affect hormonal health.

Hormone level variations across the lifespan of both men and women are crucial in how the brain develops and dictate physiological and even psychological developments. Sex hormone imbalance in women during transitional periods in life seem to be a predisposition for mood disturbances including a heightened risk of depressive episodes, as seen in a 2015 research shared by the US National Library of Medicine.

Over or underproduction of hormones such as estrogen and testosterone direct specific functionalities in the human body, most notably in the menstrual cycle of women. Estrogen, the main female hormone, is produced in the ovaries while Androgen or the male-like hormones are produced both in the ovaries and in the adrenal glands. A slight production problem in these organs can have massive effects on a woman’s menstrual cycle, affecting sex drive and fertility as well as the psychological state. Men, likewise, can experience erectile dysfunction, loss of muscle, and loss of libido or sex drive should there be a deficiency in testosterone.

Hormonal Imbalance Signs and Symptoms

According to BioTE Medical, some of the most common symptoms of low testosterone are constant fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, and significant decrease in sexual performance.

In addition, as per the Integrative Psychiatry team in Florida, USA, symptoms of low estrogen include irregular periods, sleep problems, memory lapses and bone loss. Excess in estrogen, on the other hand, is associated with heavy bleeding, breast tenderness, presence of ovarian cysts, and fibrocystic breasts.

Sex hormone imbalances can also be aggravated by non-physiological factors such as stress. A stressful home or work environment are catalysts of unhealthy habits such as overeating and substance or alcohol abuses. As 2011 study on the link between stress and hormones found that levels of cortisol and thyroid hormones, among others, considerably change as a response to stress. However, long term exposure to stress without resolve can lead to many damaging effects further leading to endocrine disorders.

While puberty is when hormone production is at its peak to help the physiological developments of the human body, it is also a time when the body is most vulnerable as hormonal imbalance in teenagers often lead to depression and anxiety. Menopause and andropause can likewise be triggers of psychological disorders although it must be noted that hormonal changes are more gradual later in life as compared to teenage years.

 

Citations and references:

  1. Naveed S., Ghayas S., Hameed A. (2015). Hormonal imbalance and its causes in young females. The Journal of Innovations in Pharmaceuticals and Biological Sciences. Retrieved from http://www.jipbs.com/VolumeArticles/FullTextPDF/38_JIPBSV2I103.pdf
  2. Barth C., Villringer A., Sacher J. (2015, February 20). Sex hormones affect neurotransmitters and shape the adult female brain during hormonal transition periods. Frontiers in Neuroscience. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4335177/
  3. BioTE Medical. (2018) Hormone Imbalance Symptoms in Men. Retrieved from https://www.biotemedical.com/men-hormone-imbalance/symptoms
  4. Integrative Psychiatry (2002-2018). Hormone Balance: The effects hormones have on your mood. Retrieved from https://www.integrativepsychiatry.net/hormone_balance.html
  5. Ranabir S. and Reetu K. (2011, Jan-Mar). Stress and Hormones. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079864/
  6. O’Keefe C., reviewed by Brito J. (2017, December 18). Everything You Should Know About Hormonal Imbalance. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/hormonal-imbalance
  7. Assad S., Khan H. H., Ghazanfar H. et. al. (2017, June 5). Role of Sex Hormone Levels and Psychological Stress in the Pathogenesis of Autoimmune Diseases. Cureus. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5498122/
  8. Huizen J., reviewed by Ernst H. (2018, April 12). What to know about hormonal imbalances. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321486.php
  9. MedBroadcast. Andropause (Low Testosterone, Male Menopause, Manopause). Retrieved from https://medbroadcast.com/condition/getcondition/andropause
  10. National Health Service (UK). Overview on Menopause. Retrieved from https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/

 

 

 

 

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