Male Hormone Imbalance: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment
Men’s health is a topic that is not generally discussed freely. The stigma that it is not manly to go to the doctor or to discuss health issues can be a dangerous one. When people think about hormones and hormones issues,they typically think of women. Many men suffer from hormonal imbalances as well.
Men’s growth hormones decrease by about 14% every ten years starting at age 20, according to BodyLogicMD. Since hormones are a major part of overall health, it is important to understand their functions and signs of a possible imbalance.
What are Hormones?
The endocrine system consists of several glands that produce and secrete hormones, such as the thyroid, adrenal gland, pituitary gland, pineal gland, and others. Hormones are in charge of regulating several different systems in the body. Everyone knows that hormones regulate reproduction and start puberty. They also regulate mood, weight, bone density, the muscle-to-fat ratio, metabolism, body temperature, and more. It is important to know if you have a hormone imbalance because of their vital roles in the body.
Signs and Symptoms of a Hormonal Imbalance
The majority of the signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalances occur gradually. They are often mistaken as common signs of growing older or being a part of another health issue. If symptoms continue to become worse and if more symptoms appear, it may be a hormonal imbalance. The most common symptoms include:
- Hair loss
- Memory loss
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Weight gain (especially in breast area)
- Muscle loss or weakness
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings
- Heart palpitations
- Constipation or too many bowel movements
- Fertility issues
Common Types of Male Hormonal Imbalances
There are various types of hormonal imbalances that can cause a wide range of symptoms. Some hormonal imbalances may lead to underlying medical issues as well. Types of hormonal imbalances include:
- Andropause: is commonly referred to as “male menopause.”This occurs when men age and their testosterone levels decrease.
- Hypothyroidism: when the thyroid is underactive and cannot produce enough hormones
- Hyperthyroidism: is the opposite of hypothyroidism and means the thyroid produces too many hormones
Treatments for a Hormonal Imbalance
Luckily, symptoms related to a hormonal imbalance are easily treatable. There are many methods of treatment that include homeopathic remedies or prescription medications. Depending on if the hormonal imbalance is due to a medical condition, it is not always necessary to need a vigorous treatment plan.
Common treatment methods come in pills, injectable, topical gels, patches, and creams. The testosterone in these treatments enter the bloodstream and raises hormone levels for those will low levels. This is also called hormone replacement therapy- despite the fact they are adding hormones to make up the difference.
Thyroid medications are especially important if diagnosed with an underlying disease that is causing the imbalances. Hypothyroidism can be treated with a synthetic thyroid hormone called levothyroxine; thisis typically taken orally. Hyperthyroidism is a bit trickier to treat.
Treatments may include taking radioactive iodine to shrink the thyroid, taking anti-thyroid medications that prevent the gland from overproducing hormones, and/or beta blockers to aid with symptoms.
As previously mentioned hormonal imbalances can be caused by lumps, nodules, and tumors. Surgery may be a needed method of treatment to remove the growth from the gland. It is important not to delay treatment because some growths can be cancerous. Surgery is also an option for some cases of hyperthyroidism. This involves removing most of the thyroid in what is called a thyroidectomy. This surgery will result in needing hormone medication as a lifelong treatment to provide normal levels of thyroid hormone.
Many men and women find success in balancing out their hormone levels with natural methods. A healthier lifestyle is key for overall health and can help balance and maintain normal hormone levels. Diet, exercise, and stress management are integral for reducing the symptoms.
Causes of Hormonal Imbalances
Why someone is experiencing a hormonal imbalance can depend on a number of reasons. These factors can be caused by poor lifestyle or naturally occur within the body. Causes can include:
- Type I and Type 2 diabetes
- Thyroid Nodules
- Poor diet
- Family history
- Chronic stress
- The decrease in liver function
- Pituitary tumors
- Exposure to toxins such as pesticides and herbicides
- Benign tumors
- Injury to an endocrine gland
How to Test for Hormone Imbalances
No single test determines a hormonal imbalance,and it sometimes requires a few different tests to be diagnosed correctly. It is advised to track mental and physical symptoms for at least three months and then show them to yourdoctor. It is essential to list all current medications and any supplements taken from over-the-counter as some medications can impact hormone levels.
The most common test for a hormone imbalance is to take a blood sample. Most hormones are traceable in the blood,and through this, the doctor can check for thyroid issues, cortisol levels (stress hormones), and testosterone levels. In conjunction with a blood test, the doctor may perform an ultrasound. This is to obtain images of the pituitary gland, thyroid, and testicles to check for any abnormalities.
A thyroid scan would be another method of testing for a hormone imbalance if any abnormalities were discovered in a physical exam or blood test. The thyroid scan can determine if the gland is inflamed or swollen, contains any growths such as lumps and nodules, is enlarged, is overactive or underactive, and if cancer is present.
Hormonal imbalances can occur at any age, not just with aging men. A sperm count in a young male can help determine hormonal issues as well. If planning to start a family, it is important to get levels where they should be.
What You Need to Know
Some people may find their symptoms of a hormonal imbalance tolerable and will not receive treatment, and this can lead to serious, long-term health issues down the road. Health conditions such as infertility, sleep apnea, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, kidney damage, goiter (increase in thyroid size), and obesity are among some of the effects of prolonged imbalances.