For those who may not be aware, hormones play a critical role when it comes to overall health and wellbeing. In short, hormones are chemical messengers in the body that are produced by the endocrine glands, which are the ductless glands that make up the endocrine system. If these glands produce too much or too little of any of the hormones that the body needs to function properly, it can lead to a hormonal imbalance.
WHAT A HORMONE TEST CAN REVEAL ABOUT YOUR HEALTH
To determine whether or not a patient has a hormone imbalance, most physicians will order a blood test, which is usually a go-to for assessing thyroid, estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol levels. A hormonal imbalance can also be confirmed based on ultrasounds and pelvic exams. Although rare, some physicians will also use advanced testing methods to determine if a patient has a hormonal balance, such as x-rays, MRIs, and thyroids scans. That being said, some of the symptoms associated with a hormonal imbalance that can affect both men and women include
- Changes in weight
- Dry skin
- Decline in libido
- Muscle aches
- Muscle weakness
- Profuse sweating
- Vision problems
- Irregular heartbeat
- Frequent urination
- Chronic thirst
It is also worth noting that a hormonal imbalance can trigger specific symptoms in women, with polycystic ovary syndrome being one of them. For those who are unfamiliar with polycystic ovary syndrome, it is a condition that causes women to produce an unusually large amount of male hormones, which can make conceiving difficult. Beyond that, many women will also experience the following:
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal atrophy
- Hair loss
- Heavy or irregular menstrual cycles
- Painful intercourse
WHAT CAUSES A HORMONAL IMBALANCE?
Now that we have a basic understanding of how hormonal imbalance affects the body and some of the tests that are used to identify such imbalances, let’s take a closer look at what causes them. Much like symptoms, there are some similarities as well as a few key differences when it comes to what causes hormonal imbalances in men and women. For example, men and women can develop a hormonal imbalance as a result of any of the following:
- Certain medications
- An adrenal insufficiency
Conversely, hormonal imbalances that are specific to women can be caused by the following:
- Premature menopause
- Taking birth control
- Premature ovarian failure
WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE TO THOSE WITH A HORMONAL IMBALANCE?
The benefit of hormonal testing is that it allows physicians to identify the specific hormone that is contributing to a patient’s hormonal imbalance. Armed with this information, physicians can then recommend a treatment that best meets the needs of their patients. For example, most physicians will prescribe TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) to men who are struggling with a hormonal imbalance caused by low testosterone. TRT can help with low libido, low semen volume, muscle loss, and many of other symptoms related to low testosterone in men. Some of the more common treatments for women include
Metformin – Although this medication is commonly prescribed to treat diabetes, it can also help ease PCOS symptoms in many women. Studies show that metformin not only increases low androgen levels but also stimulates ovulation.
Flibanserin – This medication is often prescribed to premenopausal women who are struggling with low libido as a result of a hormonal imbalance.
Eflornithine – One of the things that women who are struggling with a hormonal imbalance find extremely distressing is excessive facial hair. To combat this symptom, most physicians will prescribe eflornithine, which is a medication that helps slow the rate of new hair growth.
All in all, a hormone test can provide significant insights when it comes to not only the symptoms an individual may be experiencing but also their overall health. For more information on hormonal imbalances or to start treatments, consider speaking with one of our friendly and knowledgeable associates today at 205-352-9141.