Hormonal Imbalance And Men
You may think that women are the ones facing hormonal imbalances. But this is not the case. Men, as well as womens bodies, produce several hormones that are essential for wellbeing. One very well-known male hormone is testosterone. But, did you know that men, also, produce estrogen? Testosterone is mainly produced in the testicles and, a small amount is produced in the adrenal glands. It is responsible for ones manly characteristics, such as:
- Facial and Body Hair
- Muscle and Bone Density
- Deeper Voice
It also stimulates the production of sperm and affects your desire for sex. It also plays a major role in the way one gains weight and, how and where the body will end up accumulating these fat cells. Finally, red blood cells production is linked to testosterone levels.
Estrogen is made from testosterone with the help of an enzyme known as aromatase. As you age, not only do your testosterone levels naturally drop, but your estrogen levels go up simultaneously. The loss of testosterone with age is referred to by some professionals as andropause male menopause.
However, testosterone levels can drop, even in young men, from several causes, such as:
- Injuries to Scrotum or Testicles
- Testicular Cancer
- Liver Disease
But, testosterone and estrogen arent the only hormones that can get out of balance in men. You can suffer a decrease in cortisol levels if you are under a lot of stress, or even an imbalance in the thyroid hormones.
Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
One of the most common symptoms of perimenopause is hot flashes, which often coexists with night sweats. Almost 80 percent of people who are in perimenopause or transitioning into menopause have hot flashes. Also, most women who receive chemotherapy or undergo surgery to remove their ovaries will experience hot flashes.
Scientists know that hot flashes occur as a result of low estrogen levels. Each hot flash involves a sensation of heat that starts in the chest area and travels to the neck and the head. It can last for a few minutes and may cause sweating. Some women also develop a faster heart rate during hot flashes.
If a hot flash happens during sleep, they are called night sweats. Women who have night sweats often wake up in the morning feeling tired.
Some people experience redness along their neck and face during a hot flash. This is called a hot flush.
On average, each hot flash lasts for about three to four minutes. Hot flashes can occur for a few months to several years. In a few rare cases, some people had hot flashes for 10 years.
Other signs of hormonal imbalance include:
- Heavy or irregular periods, missed periods, frequent periods, or stopped periods
- Vaginal dryness and itching
- Weakened muscles
- Pain in the muscles, tenderness, and stiffness
- Pain and swelling in the joints
Health Conditions And Female Hormones
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition that stops eggs from developing normally in the ovaries. Symptoms of PCOS include:
- Excessive hair growth
- Irregular or missed periods
- High levels of the male hormone testosterone
Thyroid problems, such as an overactive or underactive thyroid, can also affect the development of eggs in your ovaries and hence affect your hormone levels.
Testing your hormone levels can help you to understand whether a health problem, such as PCOS or a thyroid problem, is leading to hormonal changes in your body.
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Men And Estrogen: What You Need To Know
Estrogen is known primarily as a female hormone that helps regulate menstrual cycles, yet the hormone plays a bigger role in mens health than most people realize. Men produce small amounts of estrogen as part of their normal functioning male reproductive system, along with the male hormone testosterone. As they age, less testosterone is produced.
Yet questions are beginning to emerge as to what specific part estrogen plays in male development, especially as a man ages. Once largely ignored, estrogen levels in men are now under the microscope as researchers are trying to determine this hormone’s role in men and how it affects the body’s different hormone levels.
A decrease in estrogen, for example, may be a factor in fat accumulation in men as well as women. One endocrinologist at Harvard Medical School reported in a 2013 study that some of the symptoms of testosterone deficiency in males, including a decline in libido, were at least partially caused by lower estrogen production.
What Is A Hormonal Imbalance
Your body is comprised of various glands and tissues, all of which are part of your endocrine system. These glands deliver hormones throughout your body via your bloodstream. These are the chemicals that tell your organs what to do and when to do it.
Hormones are responsible for regulating some of your most critical bodily processes, including your:
- Sexual capacity
- Internal temperature
A hormonal imbalance means that your body is producing too much or too little of a given hormone, such as insulin, estrogen, progesterone, or any other hormone. If your levels are off by even a little, it can create a significant change that you may feel to a severe degree.
Causes And Symptoms Of Hormonal Imbalance
When the endocrine system is functioning smoothly, its precise and timely release of hormones works to promote optimal health and function. The glands in this system assist in nearly every critical bodily function. So, if there is a problem with one or more glands, hormonal imbalance can occur, causing a variety of problems, some more serious than others. These changes can be detected by undergoing a hormone imbalance test, which is an opening door towards getting the right kind of treatment to address your hormonal imbalance symptoms.
Testing For A Hormonal Imbalance
There are numerous types of tests for your doctor to choose from in order to detect a hormonal imbalance. Your symptoms will surely put him in the right direction. So, you do need to fully disclose to your doctor about your signs and symptoms for him to order the right hormones to be tested.
A blood test is one of the most common ways to test hormone levels. This test can detect testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, and thyroid levels. You should order a test that’s specific to your gender, as a women’s hormone test will look for different levels of sex hormones than a men’s test. A simple saliva test can detect several types of hormones as well. With a saliva test, you can look at your estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone levels.
If your doctor is concerned about a particular gland in your body, he or she might order an ultrasound. This can be the case of testing the pituitary gland, uterus, testicles, ovaries, and thyroid. An X-ray or MRI will offer further opportunities for imaging. Depending on the results of prior tests, additional types of testing might often be needed to have a better diagnosis. A biopsy of a problematic gland can help your healthcare provider find issues with that specific gland.
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Hormone Imbalance And Hormone Testing
A woman’s hormones are constantly changing and the slightest imbalance can change how you feel day to day. A hormonal imbalance can affect the menstrual cycle, mood, metabolism, libido, and sleep. Testing hormones is a critical step in understanding a womanâs reproductive and general health. Knowing if you have a hormonal imbalance is the first step to understanding the changes you may be experiencing in your body.
Hormone Testing: What To Check And Why
Questions about hormone testing are common among my patients and on social media. Women want to know which hormones they need to check and why. They also want to know what hormones and other biomarkers can be tested at home. In this video and accompanying article, I cover the biomarkers that I check for myself and my patients approximately once per quarter. Note that not all biomarkers I discuss below have been validated for blood spot testing versus the gold standard of a blood draw for serum testing, which is what I use for treatment decisions. Still, one can infer trends and screen for problems to investigate further. My highest recommendation is to perform serum testing for all treatment decisions, though that may be difficult during quarantine and lockdown. I created this video to show the blood spot test that I am performing in lockdown, even with the caveat that it is not considered the gold standard for all tests mentioned in this article.
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What Are The Different Types Of Hormones
Endocrine glands are located throughout the body. These glands include the:
- Hypothalamus: controls thirst, hunger, sleep, sex drive, moods, body temperature, and the release of other hormones
- Parathyroid: controls calcium
- Ovaries, in women: controls female sex hormones
- Testes, in men: controls male sex hormones
There are several different types of hormones in the body. When you have a hormonal imbalance, you may have a problem in one of more of these glands. The specific hormone that’s imbalanced will determine the signs and symptoms that you experience as a result. Some of the major hormones found in the body include:
- Estrogen: controls sex drive in both men and women, and regulates the menstrual cycle in women
- Progesterone: influences the body’s changes through pregnancy
- Testosterone: controls sex drive in both men and women
- Cortisol: controls stress
- Melatonin: control’s the body’s circadian rhythm and sleep cycles
- Serotonin: controls sleep cycles, appetite, and mood
- Growth hormone: controls the reproduction of cells and their subsequent growth
- Leptin: controls appetite, signaling when you’re full
- Ghrelin: controls appetite, signaling when you’re hungry
- Insulin: responds to sugar in the bloodstream
If your hormones are well-balanced, you will thrive. An imbalance, however, is something you cannot afford to ignore.
How Does The Male Reproductive System Work
While there are hundreds of hormones that control the bodys chemistry, testosterone is a versatile and critical part of the balance that specifically controls male characteristics and sex drive. When the levels dip, the result can cause a male to experience low sex drive and depression, among other complaints. Low T as it is commonly referred to in the media, can cause a number of symptoms, including:
- Fatigue or generalized weakness
- Memory problems or lack of concentration
- Changes in mood or irritability
- Erectile dysfunction
Some diseases, like diabetes, can cause similar symptoms, so it can be hard to diagnose. To further complicate matters, testosterone decline in men is a slow process and, some healthy men can produce sperm well into their 80s.
In addition, there are variables that affect hormonal decline and speed up the process. These include weight gain, drug use, tobacco or alcohol abuse, mental illness or severe depression, as well as stress and chronic illness. One may need to keep in mind that medical experts still disagree about the link between declining hormone levels in men and their need for HRT.
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Are You Living With A Hormone Imbalance
Hormones are chemical messengers that affect the way your cells and organs function. Its normal for hormone levels to fluctuate over time, such as with your monthly cycle, during pregnancy, or with the onset of menopause.
For women, the most pronounced hormonal changes come in the 40s and 50s, but are also seen in the mid-30s. Hormonal changes not only progress with age, but are also linked to lifestyle, diet, medications, pollution, toxins and xenoestrogens that we are exposed to every day.
Hormonal imbalance can be to blame for a long list of symptoms which include irregular periods and infertility, cravings and persistent weight gain, digestive problems, low libido and vaginal dryness, fatigue, anxiety, irritability and depression, insomnia and poor sleep patterns, chronic acne and night sweats
A simple oestrogen and progesterone test can identify a hormonal imbalance. Changes to diet, digestive health, stress management, improved sleep and consistent physical activity have been shown to be effective in managing the effects of hormone fluctuations.
We can also offer a home collection finger prick version of this test here: Female Hormone Check
*Note this test is not appropriate if you are taking oral contraceptives.
Female Hormone Optimization Checkup
Insulin-Like Growth Factor I ProgesteroneTestosterone, Free and Total, LC/MS/MSThyroid-Stimulating Hormone Thyroxine Free , ImmunoassayTri-iodothyronine Free Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy LC/MS/MS: Vitamin D, 25-OH, Total Vitamin D, 25-OH, D3 Vitamin D, 25-OH, D2This testosterone test will also provide Total Testosterone results when the value is > 1500 but < 10,000.
Patient Instructions: Overnight fasting is preferred. Fasting is defined as no consumption of food or beverage other than water for at least 8 – 10 hours before testing. If using a testosterone cream please be sure you have not rubbed any into the antecubital area of your arm for the last 24 hours as it can give elevated results.Estimated turnaround for results is 7 business days. If confirmation testing is required, the estimated time may be extended.
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Possible Causes Of Abnormally Low Cortisol Levels
Also called primary adrenal insufficiency, this is a condition that occurs when the adrenal glands are damaged and become unable to produce enough cortisol and/or other stress hormones. This is most often caused by auto-immune activity, where the immune system attacks the bodys own tissues. Other potential causes include long-term use of steroid medications, certain blood thinners, tumors and infections.
Problems with the pituitary gland
Low cortisol levels can be caused by the pituitary gland failing to release enough ACTH. This latter is important to trigger adequate amounts of cortisol to be released from the adrenal glands. This is typically referred to as secondary adrenal insufficiency, or hypopituitarism and, can be caused by trauma to the pituitary gland, brain tumors, pituitary gland tumors, stroke, autoimmune diseases and tuberculosis, among many other possible causes.
Hormonal Imbalance And Weight Gain
People with Cushing syndrome have high levels of cortisol in their blood. This leads to an increase in appetite and fat storage.
Hypothyroidism, if the condition is severe, can also lead to weight gain.
During menopause, many women gain weight because the metabolism slows down. You may find that even though youre eating and exercising like normal, you still gain weight.
The only way to treat weight gain from a hormone disorder is to treat the underlying condition.
During a normal, healthy pregnancy, your body goes through major hormonal changes. This is different than a hormonal imbalance.
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How To Check Hormone Levels At Home
Hereâs how to test hormone levels from the comfort of home:
The Everlywell Womenâs Health test lets you easily check for 11 key hormones all from the comfort of your own home. The kit includes everything you needâ even a prepaid shipping label to send your samples to the lab.
This easy-to-use female hormone test can detect an imbalance, and it also includes detailed instructions for how to collect your blood and saliva samples.
To collect your blood sample, just prick your finger and apply a few drops of blood to the collection card. The saliva sample is collected by spitting into the saliva tubes provided in the kit.
Youâll then send your samples to the lab, and just a few days later, your test results will be ready to view on our secure, online portal.
Advice Before Doing This Test
If you’re on hormonal contraception
Your results will only show what your hormone levels are from hormonal contraception the insights might be less useful. This includes the oral contraceptive pill, implant, ring, injection, and hormone replacement therapy .
If you just stopped hormonal contraception
Wait 3 months before doing this test this allows time for your natural cycle to return. If you were using the contraceptive injection, we recommended waiting a year.
If you use an oestrogen or testosterone cream/gel
If you use a topical oestrogen-containing or testosterone-containing cream or gel, always use a glove when applying it. Contact with your fingers could affect your finger-prick oestrogen or testosterone result.
If you’re breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can affect your hormone levels which can make it difficult to accurately interpret your results. We recommend waiting until you’ve stopped breastfeeding before doing this test.
If you’re pregnant
Dont do this test if you’re pregnant as we won’t be able to interpret your results.
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Who Should Consider Fertility Hormone Testing
Hormone imbalances usually cause symptoms that are easy to detect. If a woman has the following symptoms and is having difficulty becoming pregnant, she may consider hormone testing:
- Irregular menstrual cycles or no cycles
- Pain or cramping in the pelvic and/or abdominal areas
- Excessive bleeding or very little bleeding during menstrual cycles
- Unexplained excessive weight gain or loss.
Men suspected of having a low sperm count may consider hormone testing for FSH. Men with low sex drive or signs of infertility may be tested for LH.
How Do You Treat A Hormone Imbalance
If your hormone imbalance is caused by over-exercising, poor diet or stressful lifestyle then changes to these areas will help.
Ensuring you are eating the right food in the right quantities, especially if you are exercising heavily , is absolutely key to avoiding whats known as RED-S. This is when your body is burning more calories than you are consuming and can lead to womens periods stopping completely.
Learning to manage stress will reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol within your body.
If your hormone imbalance is caused by a medical condition such as polycystic ovary syndrome then it is best to speak with your GP and discuss treatment.
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