Hormonal imbalance – Symptoms & causes

Hormonal imbalance

The hormonal imbalance is happening when there is too much or too little of a hormone in the bloodstream. Hormones have essential role in the body so even small hormonal imbalance can cause side effects throughout the body. We know that hormones are chemicals which are produced by glands in the endocrine system.

It is known that hormones travel through the bloodstream to the tissues and organs and they deliver messages which tell the organs what to do and when to do it. Hormones are very important for regulating most major bodily processes so the hormonal imbalance can affect a wide range of bodily functions. It is known that hormones can help to regulate:

  • Body temperature
  • Mood and stress levels
  • General growth and sexual function
  • Reproductive cycles and sexual function
  • Sleep cycles
  • Heart rate
  • Metabolism and appetite

There are many men and women who can be affected by imbalances in adrenaline, growth hormones, steroids and insulin. Men are having more chances of experiencing imbalances in the testosterone levels [1], while women can experience imbalances in estrogen and progesterone levels [2].

Women naturally experience several periods of hormonal imbalance throughout their lifetime, including during: perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause; pregnancy, childbirth and breast – feeding; menstruation and puberty [2,3]. Aging and puberty are natural causes for hormonal imbalances in men. Men are having chances of developing different hormonal imbalances than women because they have different endocrine organs and cycles. Prostate cancer and hypogandism (low testosterone) are medical conditions which cause hormonal imbalances in men.

Hormonal imbalance Symptoms

Hormonal imbalance

The symptoms of the hormonal imbalance can depend on which glands and hormones are affected. Some symptoms which are associated with the more common causes of hormonal imbalances include:

  • Deepening of the voice in females
  • Breast tenderness
  • A bulge in the neck
  • Blurred vision
  • Puffy face
  • Infertility
  • Thinning, brittle hair
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Changes in appetite
  • Bloating
  • You need to go to the bathroom more or less than usual
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Increased thirst
  • Unexplained and long – term fatigue
  • Irritability and anxiety
  • Changes in blood sugar concentration
  • Brittle or weak bones
  • Changes in heart rate
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Very dry skin or skin rashes
  • Changes in sensitivity to cold and heat
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Unexplained or excessive sweating
  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss

Hormonal imbalance Causes

In some point of the life, every single person will experience natural periods of hormonal imbalances or fluctuations. The hormonal imbalances can happen when the endocrine glands are not functioning properly. Endocrine glands are specialized cells which produce, store and release hormones into the blood. There are several endocrine glands which are located throughout the body that control different organs, such as

  • Pancreatic islets
  • Thyroid and parathyroid glands
  • Hypothalamus gland
  • Pituitary gland
  • Pineal gland
  • Gonads (testis and ovaries)
  • Adrenal glands

It is known that severe medical conditions can impact some or several of the endocrine glands. Also, there are some lifestyle habits and environmental factors which can play a role in the hormonal imbalances. The most common causes of hormonal imbalances include:

  • The exposure to toxins, pollutants and endocrine disrupting chemicals, including pesticides and herbicides [4]
  • The phytoestrogens, naturally – occurring plant estrogens found in soy products
  • Anorexia [5]
  • Prader – Willi syndrome
  • The Turner syndrome (females with only one functioning X chromosome) [6]
  • Hereditary pancreatitis
  • Iodine deficiency (goiters) [7]
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • Cancers that involve endocrine glands
  • Severe allergic reactions or infections
  • Endocrine gland injury [8]
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (low levels of cortisol)
  • Benign tumors and cysts (fluid – filled sacks) that affect the endocrine glands
  • Addison’s disease (low levels of cortisol and aldosterone)
  • Cushing’s syndrome (high levels of the hormone cortisol)
  • Pituitary tumors
  • Solitary thyroid nodules
  • Abuse of anabolic steroid medications
  • Hormonal replacement or birth control medications
  • Being overweight [9]
  • Poor diet and nutrition
  • Over or underproduction of the parathyroid hormone
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
  • Hypoglycemia (more insulin produced than there is glucose in the blood)
  • Hyperglycemia (overproduction of glucagon)
  • Type 1 and type 2 diabetes [10]
  • Chronic or extreme stress


[1] van Anders SM, Steiger J, Goldey KL. Effects of gendered behavior on testosterone in women and men. PNAS. 2015;112(45):13805-10.

[2] Boyd K. How hormones can affect eyes and vision. American Academy of Ophthalmology. 2018. Retrieved from www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/how-hormones-can-affect-eyes-vision

[3] Robinson DP, Klein SL. Pregnancy and pregnancy-associated hormones alter immune responses and disease pathogenesis. Hormones and Behavior. 2012;62(3):263–71. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2012.02.023

[4] Bretveld RW, Thomas CMG, Scheepers PTJ, et al. Pesticide exposure: the hormonal function of the female reproductive system disrupted? Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 2006;4:30. doi:10.1186/1477-7827-4-30

[5] Schorr M, Miller KK. The endocrine manifestations of anorexia nervosa: mechanisms and management. Nature Reviews Endocrinology. 2017;13(3):174–86. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2016.175

[6] Cui X, Cui Y, Shi L, et al. A basic understanding of Turner syndrome: Incidence, complications, diagnosis, and treatment. Intractable & Rare Diseases Research. 2018;7(4):223–8. doi:10.5582/irdr.2017.01056

[7] Santin AP, Furlanetto TW. Role of estrogen in thyroid function and growth regulation. Journal of Thyroid Research. 2011;2011:875125.

[8] Hiller-Sturmhöfel S, Bartke A. The endocrine system: An overview. Alcohol Health and Research World. 1998;22(3):153–64.

[9] Bray GA, Heisel WE, Afshin A, et al. The science of obesity management: An endocrine society scientific statement. Endocrine Reviews. 2018;39(2):79–132. doi:10.1210/er.2017-00253

[10] The Endocrine Society. Hormone imbalance may explain higher diabetes rates in sleep-deprived men. Science Daily. 2018. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180318144819.htm


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