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Hormone imbalance

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Title: Hormone imbalance  
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Hormone imbalance

Hormones are the chemical messengers in the body that travel the bloodstream to the organs and tissues. They slowly work and affect many of the body's processes over time. Endocrine glands, which are special groups of cells, make hormones.[1]

There are many endocrine glands in the body with the main ones being the pituitary gland, thyroid, thymus, adrenal glands, and the pancreas. Hormones are dominant and it only requires a small amount of them to cause significant changes throughout the body. Both men and women produce hormones in the same areas with one exception, the sexual organs. Additional male hormones are produced in the testes while women's are produced in the ovaries.

If hormone imbalance is left untreated it can result in serious medical conditions like diabetes. If the imbalance is taking place in the pituitary glands, growth disorders are possible and will require treatment of a growth hormone. It is possible that the imbalance could also cause an overproduction of growth hormones and cause medical conditions such as gigantism and acromegaly. There are approximately 6,000 endocrine disorders that result because of hormone imbalance. An imbalance of hormones is experienced at different times during life. As the body changes from childhood to adulthood, puberty is experienced by both male and females. Women will then again experience a change later in life after their childbearing years have been passed. Hormonal imbalance is defined as chemical messengers which regulate our body's systems and that are no longer functioning properly.[2] This dysfunction can be an overproduction or an underproduction of specific hormones. The primary hormone that causes these changes is estrogen.

Estrogen and progesterone

A hormonal imbalance occurs as a reaction to the elevated level of estrogen and lowered level of progesterone within a woman's body. Estrogen is naturally produced by the ovaries and is the female hormone necessary for normal sexual development. It also works to regulate the menstrual cycle to prepare and maintain the body during childbearing years. Estrogen is dominant during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. Progesterone is dominant during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle by the corpus luteum, and is needed for implantation of the fertilized egg. Later in life, the ovaries begin to decrease their production of estrogen and progesterone, causing symptoms of hormone imbalance to develop. Estrogen replacement therapy is a common treatment for hormone imbalance. Frequently, only estrogen is replaced. Some health care providers, especially alternative medicine practitioners, feel it is important to supplement progesterone as well, as the balance between estrogen and progesterone is important. Estrogen dominance, in which there is too much estrogen relative to progesterone, can cause infertility, PMS, menstrual problems, abdominal weight gain, and possibly increased risk of breast cancer.


There are multiple causes for hormone imbalance, but the majority of cases are experienced due to estrogen dominance or increased amounts of estrogen in the body and not enough of progesterone. Common causes include birth control pills, stress, overuse of cosmetics, and non organic animal products. Other medical causes include genetics, obesity, and tumors. Other causes include lack of exercise, pregnancy, lactation, autoantibody production, and a sedentary lifestyle. Of all of these causes, obesity is the number one medical cause for hormone imbalance while pregnancy is the number one lifestyle change that causes the condition.


Some of the symptoms experienced during hormone imbalance are shared by male and female, while some are more specific to each gender. Some of the most commonly shared symptoms include fatigue, skin problems or acne, mood swings, weight problems, diminished sex drive, and no memory. If the reactions become more severe then we run into actual hormone allergy where we find a group of more serious disorders.[3] The disorders include arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and anxiety attacks. The presence of urinary tract infections, increased dryness in the mouth, eyes, genitalia, or abnormal heartbeat can also be experienced. The majority of these symptoms are experienced due to menopause.

In addition, hair loss, or alopecia, can be directly attributed to the irregular levels of hormones in the body.

Hormones that influence the cycle of hair growth are not just those produced by the reproductive organs (e.g., testosterone produced by the testes; and estrogen and progesterone produced by the ovaries.). Hair loss can also be induced by other hormones formed in other glands, including the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, pineal and the adrenals. [4]

Male Hormones and Hair Loss

The hormonal process of testosterone converting to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) affects the hair growth cycle. This is because when DHT binds to the receptors, it causes the hair follicles to shrink. The shrinking of the hair follicles, referred to as the miniaturization process, produces finer, thinner and shorter hair strands. Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a by-product of the male hormone testosterone combined with the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, is currently thought to be the primary culprit of hair loss. Though little is known about the hair follicle’s DHT receptors, it is believed that the conversion of testosterone into DHT plays a great role in the hair loss process. When the testosterone levels increase, DHT becomes more of a problem. This happens when an individual has the kind of body chemistry that is overly sensitive to even regular levels of chemicals, including hormones. Since hormones function best when they are in a delicate balance, the male hormones (androgens) do not need to be present in greater amount in order to start a problem. Such an imbalance in the hormone levels can also cause problems, including hair loss and thinning hair.[5]


Menopause is the permanent end of menstruation and fertility, defined as occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period.[6] It is the time in a woman's life when the ovaries stop producing eggs and the body doesn't produce the same amount of progesterone or estrogen. Menstruation is less frequent and eventually stops altogether. It is a biological process that is natural and is not a medical illness. Hormonal imbalance is the cause for the physical and emotional experiences associated with menopause. These symptoms include hot flushes, broken sleep patterns or insomnia, and changes in sexual response. There is no need for prevention of menopause, but there are steps that can be taken to prevent specific side effects. Regular exercise, calcium and vitamin D supplements, a low-fat diet, and controlling blood pressure and cholesterol levels are recommended.

Treatment for hormone imbalance

It is important to understand all the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Patients with a history of active or past breast cancer, blood clots, liver disease, pregnancy, or endometrial cancer should talk with a physician before using an over the counter or prescription therapy. There are two main types of HRT. The first is estrogen replacement. It is available in tablet form, cream, or a patch. It is administered alone and is given in the lowest dose possible to relieve symptoms. The second type of therapy is a combination of estrogen and progesterone. It is commonly known as HRT combination therapy. These two hormones are given continuously for the shortest time possible to reduce the risk for possible side effects. Side effects of treatment include irregular spotting, breast tenderness, fluid retention, headaches, dizziness, and blood clots or stroke.

Alternatives to HRT

Patients that are worried about these side effects can use natural products that can be bought over the counter. Diet and exercise have also been proven effective against the symptoms of menopause. As the body goes through these changes, adjusting diet and a person's level of activity will promote healthy bones and reduce the risk of heart disease as well.

Improper use of hormones

A dangerous or fatal hormone imbalance can occur in those who use anabolic steroids. While the endocrine system is developing, use of these hormones can result in a hormone imbalance that causes an increase in aggressive behavior, mood swings, or developmental disorders. Steroid use is required for some patients, but should only be administered and taken under the care of a health professional to reduce these risks.


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