Hormones are essential chemicals in the body that aid in various body processes. With such a critical role, a slight change in its amount leads to various side effects in the body. Hormonal imbalance is increasingly becoming a common disorder, affecting an estimated 80% of women. Both men and women alike suffer from imbalances in growth hormones, insulin, adrenaline, and steroids. However, women are the most affected by imbalances in progesterone and estrogen hormones, while men experience imbalances in testosterone hormone, often leading to both mental and physical health issues.
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Normal hormone fluctuations occur naturally when the body undergoes transitions, such as during puberty, menopause, or perimenopause. However, environmental factors and an unhealthy lifestyle can disrupt these delicate chemicals as well. Symptoms of hormonal imbalance range from mild effects such as insomnia, headache, and joint pain to serious symptoms of anxiety, depression, obesity, and poor memory. That said, below are some of the external factors that cause hormonal imbalance.
1. Chronic Diseases
Chronic diseases interfere with the normal functioning of the endocrine system in various ways. Normally, hormones are metabolized to inactive molecules by the liver and kidney after reaching their target organs and producing the desired effects. However, the kidney and liver’s ability to metabolize these hormones decrease in people with chronic conditions, such as heart, kidney, and liver disease. This results in abnormal endocrine functioning. Other causes include;
- Traumatic injuries
- Serious infections
- Autoimmune conditions
- Medications and supplements use
- Radiation and cancer treatment
- Cancerous and non-cancerous tumors
Chronic diseases cause hormonal imbalances characterized by excessive or little hormones. Underlying hormone imbalances may be due to overproduction or underproduction by the endocrine gland or challenges brought by deficient hormone metabolism.
Several physical and mental conditions can lead to stress in the body. Stress is a complex response that can affect the liver, kidney, heart, and endocrine normal functioning. Physical stressors are the serious causes of stress, as the body finds it challenging to cope with physical stress. In such situations, the adrenal gland produces cortisol, which is a common stress hormone. Suppose the body doesn’t respond by producing this hormone, it can lead to a life-threatening situation.
Other medical causes of stress include;
- Surgical procedures
- Severe infection
- Trauma or injuries
- Allergic reactions
- Intense heat or extreme cold
- Serious diseases
Emotional, social, and economic stress also occur, but are not serious and don’t require the production of high cortisol levels for survival.
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The environment is another common cause of hormonal imbalance. The normal functioning of the endocrine system is often affected by the presence of environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Also known as EDCs, they can mimic the behavior of natural hormones, binding to target receptor cells. EDCs can also initiate the same processes that normal hormones would, while others block the functioning of natural body hormones.
EDCs can also interfere with the production, release, storage, transport, and elimination of hormones in the body, causing severe imbalances. Some of the effects of EDCs include;
- Genetic congenital disabilities
- Impaired immune response
- Impaired sexual development
- Neurological defects
- Decreased fertility
Pollution is a common environmental factor that affects normal hormonal levels. This explains why people living in busy towns and metropolises have high chances of experiencing hormonal disturbances. At home, cleaning, makeup, and other personal care products also contain pollutants that negatively affect normal hormonal balance in several ways. Additionally, petrochemicals laden in foam packing, cleaning products, and car fumes often release gases with estrogen-mimicking effects.
While medicines are essential in treating various conditions, they can cause serious side effects, including hormonal imbalances. This explains why you should consult an experienced physician before taking any drugs or supplements. Several studies have shown the effect of some drugs, especially birth control pills, on hormones. Although birth control pills are used in treating hormonal imbalances, they might produce the opposite effect. Most birth control pills increase progesterone levels in the body.
5. Poor Diet
The body certainly reflects what you eat. Choosing to eat healthily is a sacrifice that assures better hormone health. On the contrary, observing a poor diet, such as a lot of junk, is a recipe for various health problems, including hormonal imbalances. A healthy diet should contain a perfect balance of fruits, green vegetables, carbohydrates, clean proteins, and healthy fats to maintain normal hormone levels. You should also include various fibrous foods, such as sweet potatoes and nuts, to help the body eliminate excess hormones from the digestive system.
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Hormonal imbalances are part of the body’s development cycle. However, it becomes a serious condition if you experience irregular hormonal imbalances. Most imbalances result from external factors, such as stress and others mentioned above. Fortunately, most of these external factors can be avoided. Observing a healthy lifestyle and using natural remedies can also correct your hormone levels.