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Hormonal Imbalance: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

  1. Hormonal imbalance or hormonal fluctuations occur when there is too much or too little of a hormone in the bloodstream. Due to their essential role in the body, even minor hormonal imbalances can cause signs and symptoms throughout the body. Hormones are chemicals produced by glands in the endocrine system. Hormones are released into the blood and flow through the body. Hormones are, as it were, the messengers that are released into the blood. They send messages or signals to the tissues and organs telling them what to do and when to do it. Hormones regulate many bodily processes, such as metabolism and appetite, heart rate, sleep cycle, mood and stress level, body temperature, etc. Hormone imbalance can therefore disrupt a wide range of bodily functions. Resolving or treating a hormone imbalance focuses on the underlying cause. Sometimes self-care is enough.

Hormonal imbalance

  1. Both men and women can suffer from hormonal imbalances or hormonal changes. Hormones, such as estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline, and insulin, are extremely important chemical messengers that affect many aspects of your overall health. Hormones are secreted by various glands and organs, including the thyroid, adrenal glands, pituitary, ovaries, testicles (testes), and pancreas (pancreas). The entire endocrine system (endocrine system) works together to control the level of hormones circulating through your body, and in the event of an imbalance of one or more hormones, it can cause widespread, major health problems. Conventional hormone imbalance treatments usually consist of synthetic hormones, birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid drugs, etc. However, there are also ways to balance your hormones naturally without experiencing the negative side effects associated with synthetic treatments.

What is the endocrine system?

  1. Hormone system The endocrine system or endocrine system is responsible for coordinating the relationship between different organs and hormones, which are substances that your body produces itself and that regulate various functions of your body and influence processes. Hormones are released into the bloodstream by cells in your endocrine glands. Once hormones circulate in the body, they target specific tissues or cells by binding to receptors located in the cell or on its surface. These hormones act as chemical messengers and play a key role in your body's everyday functions.


  1. The endocrine system consists of many glands, including the pituitary gland, also called the master gland because it is the hormonal link between the central nervous system and the endocrine glands. This gland lies against the brain and is responsible for sending information from your brain to other glands in your body. The pituitary gland also produces many hormones that travel through the body and have several important functions. The pituitary gland is made up of two different tissue types: the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland which synthesizes and releases hormones, and the posterior pituitary gland which secretes neurohormones that are made in the hypothalamus. Two hormones secreted by the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland are growth hormone, which is responsible for proper growth and development, and prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production after delivery.

Other glands

  1. Other important glands of the endocrine system are the pineal or pineal gland (an endocrine gland in the brain), the thyroid gland, the parathyroid glands, the thymus and the adrenal glands.

Main groups of hormones

  1. There are two main groups of hormones that circulate throughout the human body. Hormones derived from amino acids (protein hormones, peptides and amines) and derived from lipids (steroids):

Causes of a hormonal imbalance

  1. Men and women There are many possible causes for a hormone imbalance. Causes differ depending on which hormones or glands are out of order. Common causes of hormone imbalance are:

Causes in women

  1. Many causes of hormonal imbalance in women are related to reproductive hormones. Common causes are:

Causes in men

  1. Men may also experience periods of hormonal imbalance during their lifetime. Natural causes of hormonal imbalance in men are puberty (which usually starts at the age of 11 to 17 in boys) and aging. Men can develop different hormonal fluctuations than women, as they have different endocrine organs and hormonal cycles. Medical conditions that cause hormonal imbalances in men include prostate cancer and hypogonadism (low testosterone).

Risk factors

  1. Hormonal imbalance is often multifactorial, meaning it is caused by a combination of factors such as your diet, medical history, genetic influences, stress levels and exposure to environmental toxins. Some of the main risk factors of hormone imbalances are:

Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance

  1. Your hormones play an integral role in your overall health. Therefore, there is a variety of symptoms that can indicate a hormonal imbalance. The symptoms will depend on which hormones or glands are not working properly.

Complaints in men and women

  1. Common hormonal conditions that affect both men and women can cause the following symptoms:

Symptoms in women

  1. In women, the most common hormonal imbalance is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). A woman's normal hormonal cycle also changes naturally during puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause (menopause). Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance specific to women are:

Symptoms in men

  1. Testosterone plays an important role in the development of men. If you don't produce enough testosterone, it can cause a variety of symptoms. In the adult male the symptoms are:

Symptoms in children

  1. Puberty is the period when boys and girls start to produce sex hormones. Many children with delayed puberty will still have normal puberty, but some children have a condition called hypogonadism with insufficient function of the gonads (ovaries in women and testes in men). Symptoms of hypogonadism include:

Specific symptoms

  1. Some specific problems associated with some of the most common hormonal imbalances are:

Estrogen dominance

  1. A common hormonal imbalance, in both women and men, is estrogen dominance, where your body produces too much estrogen and too little testosterone and / or progesterone. Symptoms include changes in sleep patterns, changes in weight and appetite, experiencing increased stress, and slower metabolism.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

  1. In polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) the ovaries function less well, causing the balance between female and male hormones to be disrupted. This results in complaints such as infertility, weight gain, higher risk of diabetes, acne and abnormal hair growth.

Low estrogen

  1. The drop in estrogen levels leads to vaginal dryness or itching, loss of libido or sex drive, reproductive problems, irregular periods and altered mood.

Slow thyroid

  1. A slow thyroid gland or hypothyroidism causes symptoms such as slowed metabolism, weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, digestive problems and irregular periods.

Low testosterone

  1. Too little testosterone in men causes erectile dysfunction, muscle loss, weight gain, fatigue and mood problems.

Too fast thyroid

  1. Too fast thyroid (hypothyroidism) and Grave's disease cause anxiety, thinning hair, weight loss, sleep problems (insomnia), irregular heartbeat, etc.


  1. Diabetes can cause symptoms such as weight gain, nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy), higher risk of vision loss, fatigue, difficulty breathing, dry mouth, skin problems

Exhausted adrenal glands

  1. Adrenal exhaustion or adrenal exhaustion can lead to fatigue, muscle aches and pains in the body, anxiety and depression, sleep disturbances, brain problems and reproductive problems

Medical treatment

  1. Treatment of hormone imbalance can vary depending on the cause. Each person may require different types of treatment to resolve the hormonal imbalance.

Lifestyle changes

  1. Lifestyle changes that can help with or prevent hormone imbalance include:

Natural treatment

  1. Hormonal imbalance can often also be (partly) treated in a natural way.

Making Diet Changes

  1. It is recommended to make changes in your diet to counteract hormonal imbalance:

Limit red meat intake

  1. The use of red meat and related dairy products should be limited ::

Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates

  1. Sugar and refined carbohydrates have been linked to a number of health problems, including insulin resistance. Avoiding these foods and reducing total carbohydrate consumption can lower insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity. Refined carbohydrates are the culprits. These can be found in cookies, candy, pie, sweet spreads, soft drinks, and in all refined grain products such as white bread, white pasta and white rice. Improving insulin sensitivity helps reduce insulin resistance.

Take foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids

  1. Increase the intake of products rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as:

High fiber diet

  1. Fiber, especially the soluble type, is an important part of a healthy diet. High fiber intake is associated with improving insulin sensitivity and the feeling of satiety.

Drink water

  1. It is necessary to keep the metabolism process healthy by drinking at least eight glasses of water every day and (drastically) reducing the intake of sugary drinks.

Making Dietary Changes

  1. The right diet helps to stabilize the metabolism process and it is also good for the endocrine system. It is essential to have a hearty and healthy breakfast, for example with oatmeal. Preferably eat five to six small meals during the day instead of three large meals. Eat a variety of foods daily.

Move regularly

  1. Strength training, aerobics, walking, or other forms of physical activity and exercise can modify hormone levels to reduce the risk of disease and protect muscle mass during the aging process.

Give up unhealthy habits

  1. Usually the unhealthy habits lead to hormonal disorders such as:

Get a good night's sleep

  1. No matter how nutritious your diet is and how much exercise you get, your health will suffer if you don't get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation is associated with hormonal imbalance, including insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin and growth hormone. Plus, it's not just the amount of sleep you get that matters, but sleep quality matters too. Your brain needs uninterrupted sleep so that it can go through all five stages of each sleep cycle. This is especially important for growth hormone release, which occurs especially at night during deep sleep. To maintain optimal hormonal balance, aim for at least seven hours of quality sleep per night. Inadequate quality sleep lowers “fullness hormones” (hormones that regulate hunger and satiety), increases hunger, increases stress hormones, decreases growth hormones and increases insulin resistance.

Avoid stress

  1. By participating in stress reduction behaviors, such as meditation, prayer, massage, and listening to calming music, you can normalize your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Drink green tea

  1. Green tea is one of the healthiest drinks out there. In addition to caffeine that stimulates metabolism, it contains an antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a flavonoid and the main antioxidant in (green) tea that has been associated with several health benefits. Green tea is associated with increased insulin sensitivity and lower insulin levels for overweight, obese or diabetic people.

Soy and red clover

  1. Women who suffer from hot flashes and vaginal dryness during the menopause may benefit from eating soy foods and red clover (source: Erasmus MC).


  1. Almost everyone will experience at least one or two episodes of hormone imbalance in their lifetime. Hormonal imbalances are more common during puberty, menstruation and pregnancy. But some people experience continuous hormonal imbalance. Many hormone imbalances are caused by external factors such as stress or hormone medications. However, hormonal imbalance can also be caused by a medical condition that affects the endocrine system or glands.

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