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Most folks have a rather basic and some­what com­i­cal grasp of how hor­mones work in the human body. When a preg­nant woman goes off the emo­tion­al deep end for rea­sons that are mys­te­ri­ous to oth­ers, her hus­band might say, “Sor­ry, she’s just hor­mon­al because she’s expect­ing.” Or when teenagers rail against their par­ents’ impo­si­tion of a cur­few, mom and dad sigh and remind each oth­er, “it’s the hormones.”  Yes, hor­mones get a bad rap from just about every­one who isn’t a physi­cian and take the blame for every­thing from mood swings to weight gain to hair loss. Curi­ous­ly, most peo­ple have lit­tle or no fac­tu­al idea that hor­mone imbal­ance can cause minor or severe phys­i­cal prob­lems in men and women, many of which are treat­able if folks only speak up! What is a hor­mon­al imbal­ance, exact­ly? Before being able to under­stand hor­mon­al mal­func­tion, we have to under­stand what they are and how they oper­ate in our bodies. Hor­mones work in many phys­i­cal process­es that gov­ern growth, puber­ty, preg­nan­cy, height, and face and body hair. And that’s by no means a com­plete list. When any of those ingre­di­ents in human health and devel­op­ment go awry, prob­lems occur in both men and women.

First, Let’s Take a Look At How Hormone Imbalances Affect Men

The hor­mones that gov­ern male bod­ies are Testos­terone, growth hor­mone, and cor­ti­sol, which rule the famous “flight or fight” response in every­one. (Women have cor­ti­sol, too, of course). A cer­tain amount of taper­ing off of all these hap­pens in all men once puber­ty is over. How­ev­er, if they decline too much or too quick­ly, cer­tain issues can arise, including:

- Loss Of Muscles Mass & Confidence

Yes, indeed, Testos­terone is part of the mix that makes men sure of them­selves and even brave. When its lev­el declines, a man’s self-esteem may decline, which can lead to depres­sion and anxiety. Some of this reduc­tion is due to the aging process and is part of all men’s expe­ri­ence as they get old­er. But if Testos­terone dips too low, a man’s opin­ion of him­self and his mas­culin­i­ty can fall pre­cip­i­tous­ly and cause despair that is more than sim­ply an inevitable part of aging.

- Erectile Dysfunction Can Be The Result Of Low Testosterone

This is a del­i­cate sub­ject for just about every man, but the real­i­ty is that hor­mon­al decline may cause prob­lems with arousal, desire and even result in impo­tence. To start with, men need to have open and hon­est con­ver­sa­tions with their part­ners and their doctors. Sup­pose the case has low Testos­terone and erec­tile dys­func­tion. In that case, the doc­tor might ask for some blood work to rule out under­ly­ing caus­es and may pre­scribe a tri­al of Testos­terone Replace­ment Ther­a­py to see whether boost­ing your testos­terone lev­els will enhance the qual­i­ty of your erec­tions and improve oth­er symp­toms of low Testosterone. In addi­tion to treat­ment for low Testos­terone, a healthy diet and reg­u­lar exer­cise can raise testos­terone lev­els, help in los­ing weight, improve libido and Erec­tile Dysfunction.

- Men May Get Tender Breasts When Hormones Decline

Plen­ty of men are sur­prised by this, but it is far more com­mon than most peo­ple real­ize. When men reach their fifties, and their hor­mone lev­els begin to ebb, a wide­spread effect of this is ten­der, sore tis­sue around the pec­toral muscles. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, too many men are too embar­rassed to men­tion it even to their physi­cians, but they should­n’t be! Like all side effects of aging, this phase pass­es, usu­al­ly by the time men reach their mid-six­ties. It’s only a prob­lem if it becomes severe and does­n’t subside.

- Hair Loss & Hormones

Whether los­ing hair is a prob­lem depends on a man’s point of view. Hair loss is extreme­ly com­mon, par­tic­u­lar­ly as men get old­er, and genet­ics play a sig­nif­i­cant role in bald­ness. Yet, it is fuelled by a decline in Testosterone. Thank­ful­ly, few peo­ple equate lack of viril­i­ty with bald­ness – think of mega-stars like “The Rock” (Dwayne John­son) who cheer­ful­ly wear their bald­ness as a point of pride and mas­culin­i­ty. But in fact, going bald is pre­cip­i­tat­ed by declin­ing hor­mone levels.

- Cortisol Level – The Goal Is Low

Unlike the oth­er hor­mones in men’s bod­ies, which should be high depend­ing on the man’s age and growth stage, cor­ti­sol needs to be kept in check. The best way to do that is by get­ting lots of sol­id, con­sis­tent sleep, not just four or five hours a night. Ele­vat­ed cor­ti­sol lev­els can neg­a­tive­ly impact oth­er hor­mone lev­els, and in turn, cause obe­si­ty (par­tic­u­lar­ly bel­ly fat), bone den­si­ty loss and oth­er health con­cerns. If insom­nia is a chron­ic prob­lem, it’s def­i­nite­ly time to head to the doc­tor’s office!

Now Let’s Examine Hormone Imbalances In Women – What Causes Them, The Problems They Can Lead To, and How To Address Them

Wom­en’s bod­ies pro­duce two hor­mones – estro­gen and prog­es­terone – that are respon­si­ble for all mat­u­ra­tion and devel­op­ment, from puber­ty to adulthood. Once a woman reach­es her mid-to-late thir­ties, both those hor­mones begin to decrease, and con­se­quent­ly, her fer­til­i­ty starts to dimin­ish. This is why doc­tors rec­om­mend that women who hope to start fam­i­lies do it by their late twen­ties or ear­ly thir­ties; dif­fi­cul­ty con­ceiv­ing is much less of a risk dur­ing those years. Once lev­els of prog­es­terone and estro­gen start ebbing, sev­er­al health prob­lems may occur:

- Bone Density Loss

When a wom­an’s bones lose their strength and den­si­ty, she may devel­op osteo­poro­sis, a con­di­tion that caus­es bones to eas­i­ly frac­ture or even break. Cal­ci­um sup­ple­ments address this to some degree, but get­ting lots of it nat­u­ral­ly in the diet is vital. Foods rich in cal­ci­um include milk, cheese, and green, leafy veg­eta­bles like spinach.

- No Periods, No Problem? Myths About Menopause

Many women look for­ward to being rid of the wor­ries of men­stru­a­tion, like buy­ing sup­plies and con­cerns about birth con­trol. But because hor­mones decline con­sid­er­ably dur­ing this phase, gyne­co­log­i­cal prob­lems may arise. Once peri­ods stop, a woman may expe­ri­ence vagi­nal dry­ness, painful inter­course, and a loss of inter­est in sex. For­tu­nate­ly, there are top­i­cal treat­ments avail­able that can alle­vi­ate phys­i­cal prob­lems, like sup­pos­i­to­ries that ease dry­ness dur­ing sex. Avail­able by pre­scrip­tion, your doc­tor can rec­om­mend one that’s right for you. It is always best to seek your doc­tor’s opin­ion before using any med­ica­tion, either with med­i­c­i­nal or non-med­i­c­i­nal ingredients.

- Depression & Anxiety

hormone imbalance symptoms l symptoms of hormone imbalance l hormone imbalance in women l hormone imbalance in men When hor­mones stop cir­cu­lat­ing as they did dur­ing a wom­an’s twen­ties and thir­ties, she may become depressed, as estro­gen con­tributes to men­tal health. There are social fac­tors as well, tied into the way old­er women are per­ceived and valued. Many fac­tors beyond the phys­i­cal con­tribute to this prob­lem, and any woman who begins expe­ri­enc­ing this dur­ing or after menopause needs to seek sup­port from her part­ner, friends and fam­i­ly, and her physi­cian for pro­fes­sion­al help.

- Weight Loss or Gain, Hair Loss & More…

Since estro­gen and prog­es­terone play such out­sized roles in a wom­an’s devel­op­ment, it isn’t sur­pris­ing that a lack of them can cause a whole host of con­di­tions. Even con­sti­pa­tion, or con­verse­ly diar­rhea, can hap­pen when hor­mones are out of whack. And many women are famil­iar with what pop cul­ture calls the “menopause mid­dle,” that small lay­er of tum­my bulge that often arrives when a woman hits her fifties. Because estro­gen plays a role in the skin’s elas­tic­i­ty, its absence leads to wrin­kles and crow’s feet. It can feel, to many women, that the arrival of menopause means the depar­ture of their looks, and this con­tributes to feel­ings of worth­less­ness. Any woman who feels per­sis­tent­ly depressed needs to see her doc­tor; treat­ments are avail­able for all these prob­lems that are part and par­cel of hor­mone imbalances.

Final Thoughts

hormone imbalance symptoms l symptoms of hormone imbalance l hormone imbalance in women l hormone imbalance in men Hor­mon­al changes are, to some extent, a nat­ur­al part of grow­ing old­er, as men’s and wom­en’s bod­ies change and pre­pare for the lat­er stages of life. How­ev­er, no one – man or woman – should suf­fer in silence the con­di­tions that may arise as a result of these changes.  There are doc­tors and ther­a­pists who spe­cial­ize in treat­ing hor­mone imbal­ances, and if your physi­cian agrees your prob­lems require a high­er lev­el of atten­tion, ask for a referral. Hor­mone replace­ment ther­a­py (HRT) is both risky and con­tro­ver­sial. If this is some­thing you’re con­sid­er­ing, talk it over at great length with your fam­i­ly and your physician. What is most impor­tant is that every­one accepts that hor­mone changes are nor­mal, com­mon, and noth­ing to be embar­rassed about. Ask­ing for help is a wise move, no mat­ter how big or small the prob­lem may be. You only have one body, and it’s got to last a very long time! Seek help for any prob­lem, whether it’s psy­cho­log­i­cal or phys­i­cal; that is the mature and respon­si­ble choice. No doubt your doc­tor has heard it all before and is ready to help. Endur­ing these prob­lems alone, whether you are expe­ri­enc­ing pain dur­ing sex or don’t even want to have inter­course any­more, is unfair to both your­self and your part­ner. Being hap­py requires a healthy body, right? If yours feels off, like it isn’t oper­at­ing the way it once did, it’s time to make an appoint­ment and talk it out with a pro­fes­sion­al. After all, that’s what they are there for.
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