Hormonal imbalances are a common occurrence for people of both genders. They start during puberty and then continue throughout adult life as a result of either natural occurrences or sometimes, underlying medical conditions. Most imbalances are treatable, with a combination of natural treatments, supplements and/or medications. While most are not concerning, if they’re causing pain and serious discomfort, it’s worth seeing a doctor.
Types of Hormonal Imbalances
There are several types of hormones within the human body, and some, such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are gender-specific. Each hormone is responsible for regulating an aspect of the body. For example, insulin helps maintain proper blood sugar levels. When it overproduces or underproduces, it’s often an indicator of an underlying medical condition, such as Type 1 or 2 diabetes. It can also be a symptom of a tumor, which is why it’s important to consult a doctor.
Other imbalances, such as those involving estrogen and progesterone, often occur as a result of puberty, menstruation or menopause. In most cases, the symptoms are mild to moderate and women who experience them can get by without medication, simply supplementing with natural remedies.
Medical conditions such as specific types of cancers or PCOS can lead to hormonal imbalances. These typically require treatment above and beyond what natural remedies can provide. However, supplements can be used in combination with some medications — though it’s best to check with your physician to avoid any interactions — to help further reduce symptoms.
Medical conditions notwithstanding, there are other naturally-occurring causes of hormonal imbalances. An abundance of stress is one such reason, believe it or not. Stress triggers both adrenaline and steroid hormone production. Typically periods of stress are short, which is when adrenaline kicks in in a fight-or-flight situation. Cortisol helps regulate blood pressure, and when stress is everpresent, it can lead to high blood pressure, which can, in turn, trigger other medical conditions, including dangerous situations such as an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Yoga and meditation are good methods to calm stress.
Natural Remedies to the Rescue
For those with mild symptoms as a result of naturally-occurring imbalances, natural remedies can provide much-needed relief. Ginseng, red clover, evening primrose oil and dong quai, for example, are often touted as offering relief to those suffering from hot flashes as a result of menopause. CBD oil is another recent addition to the natural remedy list.
Lifestyle changes are without a doubt one of the best ways to start alleviating symptoms, particularly if you suffer from high blood pressure or obesity. Because these can contribute to hormonal imbalances, avoiding foods high in sugar and sodium, or those that come prepackaged is a good start. Instead, replace them with fruits and vegetables. Exercise, combined with dietary changes, can help accelerate weight loss and also help maintain a healthy weight.
For those suffering from hot flashes, avoidance is often key. Avoid rich or spicy foods and hot drinks when hot flashes are abundant.
When Medication or Therapy Is Necessary
There are cases when medication and hormone therapy are a necessity rather than an option. Diabetes, for instance, requires constant monitoring of blood sugar, and with Type 1, insulin injections are a must.
Women who are suffering from extreme symptoms of menopause or puberty can benefit from hormone therapies. An overview of BHRT, for example, shows how it can restore levels and promote a healthier sex drive. It’s also used in men to treat andropause, a condition that’s similar to menopause, yet may set in at a younger age.
There are different types of medications that doctors recommend. It largely depends on the type and severity of the imbalance. The medications help reduce the symptoms, and in some cases, make them dissipate altogether. Some, however, can cause side effects, so it’s important to have an open line of communication with your healthcare provider to ensure you know what’s normal and what requires further consultation.
With millions of people across the US suffering from hormonal imbalances, including up to 47% of women, knowledge is power. Knowing what to look for, the signs, symptoms and when to seek medical attention can help ensure that your quality of life isn’t disrupted.