Signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women and men
What is hormonal disruption
Hormonal failure is a dysfunction caused by the pathology of the endocrine and neuroregulatory systems, both in women and in men. All processes occurring in the body largely depend on the hormonal status.
In women, such a failure becomes the cause of various diseases of the reproductive system and, in combination with immunity disorders, inflammation and genital infections, causes a number of serious problems: menstrual irregularities, uterine fibroids, endometrial hyperplasia, polyps and polycystic ovaries. It is very important to regularly conduct gynecological examinations, because a number of diseases of the female genital area are asymptomatic, without pain, bleeding and other clinical manifestations.
What do you need to know about female hormones? Complex processes in the female body are controlled by estrogen and progesterone. It is these hormones that are responsible for puberty and the onset of menstruation during adolescence, breast and hair growth, and the regulation of the reproductive period.
The hormonal level changes after a woman becomes pregnant: a new hormone is released - human chorionic gonadotropin. In a woman preparing to become a mother, the amount of estrogen and progesterone increases, and at about the fourth month, the placenta begins to support pregnancy thanks to its own hormones.
The next hormonal spike occurs after childbirth, and the body's biological functions return to normal. Now the main task of female hormones is to ensure the production of breast milk for feeding the baby.
Thus, before menopause occurs, when the ovaries stop producing eggs and producing estrogen, hormone levels in the body can change.
But if in previous years a malfunction in the hormonal sphere meant the pathological work of the endocrine glands only in women, now this concept has spread to the male part of the population. It was found that their abnormal work of the endocrine system also leads to disorders. Moreover, the fact that the reproductive system in men and women is far from the same does not negate the similarity of symptoms caused by pathologies in the hormonal sphere.
- What is hormonal disruption?
- Causes of hormonal imbalance in women and men
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance
- Malfunctions of the reproductive system
- Disturbances in the work of the nervous system
- Metabolic pathologies
- The consequences of hormonal disruption
Signs of hormonal imbalance in girls during puberty
- Delayed puberty
- Sexual development with erased virilization
- Dysfunctional uterine bleeding
Signs of hormonal imbalance in women of reproductive age
- Intermenstrual uterine bleeding
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Hormonal disruption in women after abortion
- Hormonal disruption in women after childbirth
- Hormonal disruption in women during menopause
- Causes of hormonal imbalance in men
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance in men
- Uterine bleeding during reproductive age
- Menopause in men
- Diagnosis of hormonal imbalance
- What to do in case of hormonal disruption?
Causes of hormonal imbalance in women and men
There are many factors contributing to hormonal disruption in both men and women. This is primarily due to the dependence of the hormonal status on the neuroendocrine regulation of the central nervous system, which occurs in the brain, and on the correct functioning of the endocrine glands, which are located in the periphery.
In this regard, the causes contributing to hormonal disorders can be divided into two large groups:
- Causes caused by disturbances in the functioning of central regulation.
- Causes provoked by pathological processes occurring in the peripheral glands. Failures in their work can be caused by tumors, infections, inflammatory processes, etc.
So, let's highlight all the possible causes of hormonal disruption:
- The system of neuroendocrine regulation, also called the hypothalamic-pituitary system, can begin to work incorrectly as a result of damage to organic origin. These include severe brain and cranial trauma, encephalitis, and cancerous tumors. In addition, internal and external reasons can cause malfunctions in the functioning of this system. For example, it can be depletion of the body, chronic fatigue, like a syndrome, etc.;
- Such glands that do not affect the function of reproduction, such as the adrenal cortex or the thyroid gland, can have a direct effect on the hormonal background of a person;
- Due to the fact that hormonal metabolism occurs in the liver, and the excretion of metabolites is carried out with the help of the kidneys, disturbances in their functioning can also become the causes of failure;
- The factor of heredity cannot be ruled out. It plays an important role in the development of hormonal imbalance, especially those changes that occur during and after menopause;
- Congenital pathologies of the systems that are responsible for the production of hormones also represent a separate cause leading to the imbalance. For the first time, such pathologies manifest themselves usually with a delay in puberty or its absence;
Most often, disruptions in the hormonal sphere occur during periods of physiological changes. Among the most significant stages are puberty and similar extinction. Women, unlike men, experience several more sexual storms - these are childbirth and, in some cases, abortions.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance in young girls 14-16 years old may be the absence of menstruation or its irregularity. At this time, the cycle should already be established, but if this has not happened, there is a possibility of insufficient production or lack of estrogen and progesterone in the body. Excessive body hair and underdevelopment of the mammary glands are also alarming symptoms. Often, girls with insufficient levels of sex hormones in the blood are tall, thin, and have long arms and legs. The menstrual cycle is almost always disrupted if the body weight is less than 48 kg.
Hormonal disruption can cause cystic ovarian degeneration and uterine underdevelopment. Also, after the onset of sexual activity, you should regularly be examined by a gynecologist, since some sexually transmitted diseases can cause inflammation of the reproductive organs and hormonal disorders. In pregnant women, symptoms of hormonal imbalance may be premature contractions of the uterus, pain in the lower abdomen.
An increase in premenstrual syndrome is also an alarming sign: mood swings, breast tenderness and swelling, joint pain, depression and absent-mindedness. During menstruation, uterine bleeding may occur, anemia may develop. You should also pay attention to weight fluctuations, skin changes and visual impairments.
Hormonal disruption can cause serious diseases: fibroids, polycystic, uterine and ovarian cancer.
Malfunctions of the reproductive system
At a young age, malfunctions of the reproductive system are manifested in the fact that a teenage girl has a delay in sexual development with a delayed formation of sexual characteristics (secondary). In this case, the ontogeny of differences that are not typical for a particular gender often occurs. Women develop secondary masculine traits (masculinization), while men develop female secondary traits (feminization process).
In addition, the reproductive system suffers:
- Sex drive significantly decreases, up to its complete absence;
- Erectile function in males suffers;
- Women have difficulty reaching orgasm (anorgasmia);
- Infertility develops.
Disturbances in the work of the nervous system
With hormonal dysfunction, the process of cerebrasthenia develops. The symptoms of exhaustion are as follows:
- Nervousness and irascibility, unreasonable irritability;
- Fatigue after short work;
- Emotional instability, tearfulness;
- Emotional disorders that can lead to depressive disorders;
- Decrease in intellectual capabilities, which is reversible.
Metabolic problems arising from hormonal imbalance are most often expressed in an increase in body weight. A sharp jump in weight makes doctors think about hormonal pathology.
In addition, patients begin to suffer from osteoporosis. Problems with bone tissue occur against the background of calcium metabolism disorders.
However, with correct and timely treatment, all symptoms can be eliminated. Nevertheless, if you ignore the failure for a long time, then it may well lead to more pronounced health problems, which will be triggered by long-term functional disturbances in the work of most of the most important organs and systems.
The consequences of hormonal disruption
Complications that can be caused by prolonged hormonal imbalance are as follows:
- Inability to conceive a child, including male infertility;
- Lack of opportunity to have an adequate sex life, complete loss of libido;
- Formation of malignant tumors, the growth of which depends on hormonal status;
- Osteoporotic fractures;
- Heart attacks and strokes that develop against the background of atherosclerotic lesions;
- The second type of diabetes mellitus.
Signs of hormonal imbalance in girls during puberty
An indicator of normal puberty in females is its manifestation in the period from 7 to 8 years. This process is completed by the age of 18. In puberty, there is an acceleration in the rate of maturation of the body, an increase in height and weight, the formation of secondary sexual characteristics. It was at this time that the formation of the female reproductive system takes place, which is responsible for the reproductive process in the future.
If secondary sexual characteristics are observed in children under 7 years of age, then sexual development is considered premature. In this case, an early start of menstruation occurs (sometimes this can happen even at 4 years old), the formation and growth of the mammary glands. Girls begin to quickly gain in height, however, it will eventually not exceed 152 cm. This is due to the premature ossification of the skeletal zones responsible for the girl's height.
There are several types of early onset of puberty:
- Pathological premature maturation caused by disorders in the central genesis or occurring against the background of existing ovarian tumors that produce hormones. Most often, it is the tumors located in the region of the pituitary gland and hypothalamus that become the causes of early puberty;
Early sexual development of the constitutional type is caused by the child's genetic predisposition to early onset of puberty. At the same time, there are no pathological disorders in the systems responsible for the hormonal background. Such girls have normal reproductive ability, they do not need therapy. The first menstruation does not start earlier than 6 years.
The fact that the girl has a delay in the onset of puberty will be evidenced by the absence of secondary sexual characteristics up to the age of 16. More often, such problems arise as a result of a genetic predisposition. Moreover, after the onset of menstruation (at 17 or 18 years old), all systems will work normally, and this developmental feature will not complicate the process of further conception and childbirth.
However, there is also a pathologically caused delay in puberty. It can be a consequence of either Shereshevsky-Turner disease, or disorders in the functioning of the pituitary gland.
Currently, more and more delayed puberty occurs due to nutritional depletion. It becomes the result of starvation due to the massive fascination with diets and the desire of girls to be painfully thin.
Sexual development with erased virilization
Puberty with erased virilization is a pathological process in which a person has sexual characteristics that are not inherent in his gender. For example, women have masculine hair growth or skeletal distortion. If the reason for such a failure was a violation of metabolic processes, then characteristic signs may appear: acne, overweight, stretch marks.
Genetically determined pathologies in the development of the ovaries or adrenal cortex can be the basis for a failure with latent virilization.
More often than others, the hypothalamic syndrome of puberty occurs, the causes of which are not fully understood. However, it is generally accepted that such a response of the body occurs against the background of existing chronic tonsillitis or other infection, or as a result of a skull injury. The influence of emotional stress, past viral infections, the fact of chronic overeating cannot be ruled out.
The hypothalamic syndrome, provoking hormonal dysfunction, manifests itself immediately after the first menstruation in a girl, that is, in the age period from 11 to 13 years. At the same time, the appearance of a teenager exudes health: such girls are usually tall, slightly overweight, their hips and shoulders are wider than those of their peers. However, behind the seeming external well-being, many problems are hidden, including headache, instability of blood pressure, excess of its indicators, excessive irritability and fatigue.
Striae are another characteristic feature of hypothalamic syndrome, and these purple streaks that appear on the skin are most often not associated with obesity. Their appearance signals the activation of pathology.
Dysfunctional uterine bleeding
With hormonal imbalance, profuse uterine bleeding may occur during the onset of the next cycle. In this case, there are disturbances in the associated work of the hypothalamus, pituitary and ovaries.
Juvenile uterine bleeding is a fairly common problem and accounts for up to 20% of all adolescent pathologies in the gynecological field.
As for the etiology of dysfunctional bleeding, it can be vitamin deficiency, acute respiratory viral infections, or mental and physical stress. Moreover, the pathology can develop in a teenager who does not have health problems, but is studying according to an overly intensive program.
Symptomatically, this pathology is accompanied by the development of bleeding after a prolonged absence of the next menstruation. Moreover, the delay can vary from two weeks to several months. Menstruation preceding juvenile bleeding usually does not abnormal for 2 years. The bleeding itself can be both profuse and scanty, but prolonged (up to 15 days). They are the ones that often cause anemia.
If abnormal menstruation becomes too intense, then this may be the cause of the development of DIC. In this case, urgent medical attention is needed, since increased blood loss threatens the life of a teenager.
Signs of hormonal imbalance in women of reproductive age
Amenorrhea is characterized by the absence of menstruation in women who have not entered the climacteric period, who are not carrying a child and who are not breastfeeding.
Distinguish amenorrhea that has arisen:
- Due to ovarian pathology;
- Due to the failure of central nervous regulation;
- Due to violations of the adrenal cortex.
If amenorrhea has arisen as a result of ovarian pathology, then most likely the cause is their polycystic disease. It becomes the result of stress, difficult childbirth, early start of sexual activity, etc. At the same time, a woman will suffer from more or less pronounced obesity, as well as from male-pattern hair (hair grows on the chin and lip, on the inner thighs). Stretch marks appear on the skin, nails become brittle, hair falls out. If you ignore this condition, then this threatens the further development of diabetes mellitus and atherosclerosis, since it is these diseases that are the result of a failure in the metabolized processes of lipids and carbohydrates.
When amenorrhea of central genesis is observed, the patient suffers from anemia, bradycardia and hypotension. Long-term illness or starvation, a hereditary factor in which the pituitary gland and hypothalamus are damaged, injuries and oncological diseases can lead to such hormonal disruptions.
Hormonal disruption caused by Itsenko-Cushing's syndrome is severe, with damage to internal organs. Amenorrhea in this case is one of the symptoms of the disease. The signs of this pathology are quite specific: specific obesity is observed, in which fat accumulates in the neck, face and upper body, the limbs gradually atrophy, striae appear on the body, hair grows in a male pattern. In parallel, the woman suffers from osteoporosis, hypertension and impaired glucose sensitivity.
If a woman has signs of this syndrome, then it makes sense to suspect adrenal pathology. The cause may be hormone-producing tumors, or neoplasms localized in the pituitary gland and synthesizing steroids, which are normally produced by the adrenal glands.
A common phenomenon that leads to hormonal disruption is pseudo-Cushing's syndrome. It provokes disturbances in the work of the neuroendocrine system, and alcoholism, mental illness and obesity can cause functional hypercortisolism.
Intermenstrual uterine bleeding
It is hormonal dysfunction that is most often the cause of uterine bleeding. Menstruation occurs at irregular intervals, the risk of oncology increases, a woman's reproductive capacity decreases, and there are problems with bearing a child.
There are two types of functional uterine bleeding. The first type is ovulatory, in this case blood loss occurs some time after the delay in the cycle. The delay itself may last more than 2 months. At the same time, blood loss is not too abundant, however, in time they are quite long. There is a periodic increase in blood loss followed by a decline.
The second type - anovulatory - is characterized by a progressive lengthening of the cycle. The duration of such periods can exceed a month.
Premenstrual syndrome is characterized by a cyclical symptom complex in women, which is caused by a malfunction of the hypothalamus in relation to the regulation of hormonal production. This pathology can occur at any age, but more often affects women over 30. As for the causes of the violations occurring, scientists suggest that a hereditary factor plays a role. In addition, severe stress, abortion and infectious diseases can provoke hormonal dysfunction. The influence of a sedentary lifestyle, errors in nutrition, pathologies of the central nervous system, as well as gynecological pathologies is not excluded.
The syndrome starts a few days before the start of the next menstruation, on the first day of the cycle it gains maximum strength, after which it eliminates itself. With a severely current pathology, the duration of symptoms can increase significantly.
The nature of the course of premenstrual syndrome may be as follows:
- By the type of metabolic disorders with swelling of the limbs and face;
- Like a migraine with severe headaches, nausea and vomiting;
- By the type of neurosis with excessive irritability, depressive states, increased fatigue and sleep disturbances;
- By the type of dystonia with a slowdown in the pulse, a decrease in pressure and flatulence;
- As a type of sympathoadrenal crisis with pressure surges, unfounded fears, an increase in the number of heart contractions, resulting in abundant urine output. Such crises are the result of disruption of the work of not only the hypothalamus, but also the adrenal glands.
The common symptoms for most women are pain in the mammary glands and increased olfactory function. Sometimes there is an increase in body temperature, heart pain, allergic manifestations. The younger a woman is, the more she is prone to depression during premenstrual syndrome, and the older, the higher the tendency to irritability these days.
Hormonal disruption in women after abortion
In terms of frequency, hormonal dysfunction is the most common complication of abortion. This procedure is accompanied not only by the most complex restructuring of the body, but also by the strongest nervous shock. If a woman has this first pregnancy, then the risk of complications increases significantly. Moreover, the method of interruption does not significantly affect this. Nevertheless, it is best to carry out the procedure as early as possible, this somewhat reduces the risks of possible complications.
If medical abortion was chosen as a method of termination of pregnancy, then the woman must be prescribed hormonal therapy, which helps to normalize the cycle. When complications do not develop, then he returns to normal after a month.
The onset of hormonal dysfunction after an abortion may be indicated by:
- Increase in body weight;
- Nervous symptoms;
- Blood pressure surges, pulse instability, excessive sweating.
Hormonal disruption in women after childbirth
The body of any woman who gives birth undergoes complex hormonal transformations, so menstruation can begin with a certain delay, even if the child is not breastfed.
Hormones have an effect on weight gain during breastfeeding, however, their effect is a physiologically determined requirement that ensures milk production. In this regard, women who are breastfeeding should be in motion as much as possible and not consume foods that have a high calorie content. Most often, proper nutrition and exercise can help you eliminate excess body weight after lactation stops.
If the weight does not go away, despite the fulfillment of all the doctor's prescriptions, then this most often indicates hormonal dysfunction.
You should consult a doctor provided that:
- The weight increases unmotivated;
- The process of virilization is observed;
- The menstrual cycle is not restored, the discharge between periods is disturbing;
- Neurological disorders appear.
Stress, infections, exacerbation of existing chronic diseases, as well as pathology of the gynecological sphere can increase the risk of developing hormonal dysfunction after childbirth. Overwork, which most young mothers experience, negatively affects the hormonal system.
Hormonal disruption in women during menopause
When a woman reaches 45 years of age, a gradual fading of her sexual functions begins. This process is called menopause. The period is characterized by an irregular menstrual cycle, followed by the complete disappearance of menstruation. However, this process should not be perceived as a pathology, because it is a physiological norm. In recent years, there has been an increase in the incidence of climacteric syndrome among women, which is provoked by hormonal dysfunction.
Signs of the development of a pathological climacteric period are divided into three groups:
- Developing early - about three years before the complete stop of menstruation;
- Delayed in time - they begin to bother a woman three or two years after the complete cessation of menstruation;
- Late - develop after 5 years after the cessation of menstruation.
Hot flashes are the most pronounced symptom of early climacteric pathology caused by hormonal dysfunction. During such attacks, a woman experiences sensations of heat, mainly in the facial area. Other symptoms include depressive disorders, vegetative-vascular dystonia, migraine-type headaches, etc. (Causes and symptoms of hot flashes and how to deal with them?)
If we consider the symptoms of delayed menopause, then mainly this is a lesion of the skin in the genital area and dystrophy of the appendages. Urinary incontinence develops, painful sensations occur during intimacy, the likelihood of developing cystitis and vulvovaginitis increases. These phenomena are associated with a decrease in the level of estrogen in the blood. Brittle nails, hair loss and dry skin are characteristic signs of estrogen deficiency.
Delayed symptoms of menopause are gross metabolic disorders. Women suffer from osteoporosis, atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus.
Why there are changes in the hormonal sphere during menopause is a question that is still open. However, there are suggestions that the provoking factors are inappropriate nutrition, stress and bad habits.
The development of pathological menopause threatens women:
- With pathologies of the nervous system;
- With impaired neuroendocrine regulation;
- With gynecological infections;
- Those who have gone through miscarriages, abortions, or who have had complicated labor.
Causes of hormonal imbalance in men
To ensure the normal development of secondary sexual characteristics in adolescence, hormones produced by the testes - androgens - are responsible for muscle strength, impressive growth and aggressiveness in adult men. However, in order for a man's body to work without interruptions, he also needs female hormones - estrogens. Therefore, against the background of a man's full health, his blood will have the same estrogen content as a woman in the menopausal period.
It is they who are responsible for the sex drive of a man, who will suffer with their lack or excess. Estrogens make it possible for the successful maturation of sperm, are responsible for mental abilities, regulate metabolic processes, in particular, lipid and calcium metabolism in bone tissue.
Estrogens in men are the result of the liver and adipose tissue that convert testosterone. In the gonads, it is formed negligibly little.
The activity of the male gonads is also regulated by the pituitary gland and hypothalamus, which work in the system, as well as the work of the testicles. Therefore, the main cause of male hormonal dysfunction is considered to be hypogonadism - secondary and primary.
Secondary hypogonadism is a pathology of central genesis, which, like in women, becomes the result of brain tumors (pituitary and hypothalamic regions), neuroinfection, congenital malformation or trauma.
Sometimes hormonal imbalance occurs as a result of chronic poisoning against the background of alcoholism, taking drugs, harmful professional activities. Such intoxication entails increased production of estrogen from testosterone.
Endocrine pathology is a rare cause of hormonal dysfunction in the male body. Also, hormone-dependent tumors, liver and kidney pathologies rarely provoke such violations.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance in men
Puberty in young men can begin with delay and ahead of schedule. If we are talking about premature puberty, then it is caused by brain tumors localized in the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. In addition, a genetic predisposition may be the cause. In this case, secondary sexual characteristics may appear in a boy as early as 7 years old. The child begins to grow rapidly, but this process stops in adolescence, as the growth zones of the skeleton ossify prematurely.
If a boy has obesity and other symptoms of metabolic disorders, then most often this hormonal disruption is triggered by the pathological work of the adrenal cortex. An additional provoking factor is the child's consumption of hormone-containing foods. For example, meat and milk with steroids.
There may be several reasons leading to a delay in the onset of puberty in boys:
- Poisoning, infection, injury - any damage to the central nervous system;
- Diseases of the thyroid gland, obesity - endocrine pathologies;
- Chronic diseases that provoke depletion of the body.
In the treatment of delayed puberty, hypogonadism and hereditary predisposition should be considered as possible factors of influence.
Hormonal disruption in reproductive age
Manifestations of sexual dysfunction in the reproductive period most often occur against the background of increased formation of estrogen:
- Nervous system pathologies;
- Breast growth;
- Sexual desire and reproductive disorders.
The reasons for the failure can be very diverse: pathologies of internal organs and systems, poisoning, bad habits, nervous tension, malnutrition, etc. Symptoms in each case will be supplemented with appropriate etiological signs.
Menopause in men
A natural physiological stage is the extinction of sexual function in men in adulthood. However, it also happens that this process is accompanied by pathological disorders.
First of all, menopause in men will be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Increased irritability;
- Depressive moods;
- Falling self-esteem;
- Panic attacks;
- Decline in cognitive abilities, decrease in creative abilities;
- Feeling of own failure and uselessness.
In addition to disorders in the nervous system, men suffer from impotence, in parallel with which problems with urination begin.
The mammary glands may begin to enlarge, the body weight increases, and fat begins to accumulate in places uncharacteristic for men - on the sides, on the hips. Facial and chest hair stops growing.
The cardiovascular system suffers, atherosclerotic vascular lesions and hypertension begin to develop.
The skin gradually atrophies, the condition of the nails and hair worsens. Like women, men may have hot flashes, increased work of the sweat glands.
Factors provocateurs of pathological male menopause are as follows:
- CNS pathologies caused by injuries, infections, poisoning;
- Endocrine gland diseases;
- Bad habits, poor nutrition, low physical activity;
- Liver disease;
- Prolonged stress;
- Somatic diseases;
- Hereditary predisposition;
- Previously suffered hormonal dysfunctions.
Diagnosis of hormonal imbalance
The comprehensive survey should include:
- Analyzes to identify the level of hormones, general and biochemical blood tests;
- Examination of internal organs, which allows you to assess their possible damage caused by hormonal dysfunction;
- Exclusion of pathologies of organic origin, for example, tumors, liver cirrhosis, etc.;
- Differential diagnostics to detect hypogonadism, Itsenko-Cushing's syndrome, etc.
What to do in case of hormonal disruption?
If a tumor is the cause of the disorders, then it must be eliminated from the body. When the factor-provocateur of a failure cannot be eliminated, for example, if it is a climacteric period, then hormone therapy is required. If the pathology does not have a severe organic nature, then its manifestations can be successfully eliminated by taking a course of medication.
Treatment involves the use of hormone therapy. It will not only eliminate the symptoms of the disease caused by fluctuations in hormonal levels, but also restore the menstrual cycle and prevent the recurrence of the disease. In some cases, hormone therapy alone is not enough, and patients undergo surgery. (see also: Restoring hormonal levels with folk remedies)
It is very important to remember that therapy is always selected individually, depending on the results of medical tests. This suggests that self-medication with hormonal failure is contraindicated. To avoid complications and serious consequences, you need to undergo gynecological examinations twice a year.
Preventive measures to prevent recurrence of the disease, both in women and in men, are reduced to the following rules:
- Commitment to the principles of proper nutrition;
- Compliance with the daily routine;
- Feasible physical activity;
- Rejection of bad habits;
- If possible, avoid stressful situations.
If there are appropriate appointments, then physiotherapy, treatment in sanatoriums and dispensaries can be indicated.
The author of the article: Kuzmina Vera Valerievna | Endocrinologist, nutritionist
Education: Diploma of the Russian State Medical University named after NI Pirogov with a degree in General Medicine (2004). Residency at Moscow State University of Medicine and Dentistry, diploma in Endocrinology (2006).