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
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.
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.