As we age, our bodies gradually reduce the production of vital hormones. Testosterone, the primary male sex hormone, is vital in the development of secondary sexual characteristics and reproductive tissues in men. Estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, is responsible for sexual and reproductive development in women. A drop in these primary sex hormones negatively affects several physical and mental functions. Hormone testing offered at the Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, KY can help you avoid these negative changes.
When Should You Get Hormone Testing? 21 Common Symptoms
Hormone testing enables you to keep track of your hormone levels, helping you avoid the adverse effects associated with testosterone and estrogen deficiency. Once primary sex hormones levels begin to drop, you may experience a wide variety of symptoms. Here are some common symptoms and signs you need to go for hormone testing:
1. Irregular or Absent Periods
For most women, the menstrual cycle lasts between 3 to 5 weeks. However, about 1/4 of all women experience irregular periods. According to female health experts, irregular periods are periods that are heavier or lighter than usual or periods that are longer or shorter than usual. Irregular periods can cause abdominal cramping and prevent ovulation. When estrogen levels drop, some women are likely to experience:
- Prolonged or abnormally heavy bleeding during menstruation (menorrhagia)
- Absence of menstruation for at least 3 consecutive menstrual periods (amenorrhea)
- Pain, and cramping during menstruation (dysmenorrhea)
- Infrequent periods or a routine of going more than 35 days without menstrual periods (oligomenorrhea)
Low estrogen can also cause prolonged periods that last more than a week.
2. Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
When a hot flash occurs, you experience a sudden wave of heat on your face and neck. Sometimes hot flashes are accompanied by reddening and flushing of the skin around the face, arms, back, chest and neck. An intense hot flash can also cause sweating and chills. Night sweats are hot flashes that occur at night, especially when one is asleep.
A hot flash can last between 30 seconds to 10 minutes. When left untreated, hot flashes can occur regularly for a decade. However, medical reports show that most women stop experiencing hot flashes after 5 years.
3. Painful Sex
The hormonal imbalance that occurs during perimenopause and after menopause causes vaginal dryness. Vaginal dryness causes discomfort and sometimes pain during sex. Additionally, low estrogen makes the walls of the vagina thinner, leading to feelings of discomfort and pain during sex.
4. Frequent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
Generally, some women are at an increased risk of developing urinary tract infections compared to others. Besides making the walls of the vagina thinner, low estrogen also causes the lining of the urethra to become thinner.
This increases the permeability of the urethra, making it easier for unhealthy bacteria to enter the urinary tract. In addition to making you more vulnerable to UTIs, hormonal imbalance can lead to other complications in the urinary tract, such as urinary incontinence.
5. Exacerbation of Mental Disorders
Estrogen is essential in maintaining the health of the brain. It improves the brain’s ability to withstand stress and positively impacts neurotransmitters and cognitive abilities. According to mental health specialists, low estrogen levels make women more susceptible to psychotic disorders, such as the second peak of schizophrenia.
Additionally, medical reports show that women with bipolar disorder who receive hormone therapy experience fewer manic episodes.
6. Trouble Concentrating
Although concentration can be affected by several other factors, it is common for women in perimenopause and menopause to complain about brain fog. Women approaching menopause are more likely to experience memory and concentration problems, especially when engaging in complex and involving tasks.
Additionally, other symptoms of hormonal imbalance, such as hot flashes, depression, and sleep problems, can also cause or exacerbate memory and concentration problems.
7. Trouble Getting Pregnant
Hormonal imbalance causes the uterine lining to become thinner, making it difficult for women to get pregnant. Additionally, since low estrogen levels can prevent ovulation, women suffering from hormonal imbalance have trouble getting pregnant since there is no egg for sperm to fertilize.
8. Frequent Headaches
Generally, women are more vulnerable to headaches than men. Although medical experts are not yet sure of the cause behind this difference, some believe low estrogen is responsible. According to health self-reports, many women report they experience regular headaches or severe migraines right before their periods start. Interestingly, estrogen levels are lowest during this time of the menstruation cycle.
9. Dry Eyes
Estrogen also plays a key role in the production of tears. Therefore, dry eyes are a possible symptom of hormonal imbalance.
10. Erectile Dysfunction
As a primary sex hormone, testosterone regulates your erection and stimulates your sex drive. Men who suffer from low testosterone have trouble getting and maintaining an erection that is firm enough for satisfactory sex. They are also less likely to experience fewer if any spontaneous erections, especially those that occur during sleep or early in the morning.
11. Reduced Muscle Mass
Testosterone is responsible for the development of some physical characteristics in men. For example, it helps in the growth and development of muscles. Therefore, when testosterone levels drop, men are likely to notice a significant reduction in their muscle mass. Fortunately, there is no evidence that reduced muscle mass affects strength and function.
12. Hair Loss
Although balding is a natural process that comes with age, men with low testosterone levels are likely to get there faster. Testosterone plays a vital role in hair production and growth. Therefore, lower-than-normal levels can lead to body and facial hair loss.
13. Increased Body Fat
Although low testosterone levels in men can cause a reduction in muscle mass, on the one hand, it can increase the amount of body fat on the other. Men suffering from low testosterone are also at an increased risk of developing gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is a health condition characterized by the swelling or enlargement of the male breast tissue because of hormonal imbalance.
14. Low Semen Volume
Testosterone is vital in the production of semen. When a man ejaculates, semen transports sperms from the testicles to the opening at the tip of the penis. Since semen makes up a huge part of the male ejaculate, a drastic reduction in volume can make it difficult to facilitate the transportation of sperms. In severe cases, this can cause fertility problems.
15. Smaller Testicle Size
Testosterone is responsible for the growth and development of the testicles and penis. Although several other factors can lead to a smaller-than-normal testicle and penis size, low testosterone can increase your vulnerability to this condition. Men with low testosterone levels are also more likely to have a scrotum that feels and appears softer than usual.
16. Low Sex Drive
As men age, they are likely to experience low libido. However, men with low testosterone levels might lose interest in sex at an earlier age.
17. Low Blood Count
According to health reports, men with low testosterone levels are more susceptible to anemia. In a recent study, when men suffering from anemia went for hormone therapy, their blood count increased significantly compared to anemic with low testosterone who were only treated with placebo gel. Effects of low blood count include:
- Abnormal rapid heart rate
- Sleeping problems
- Concentration problems
Both Men and Women
18. Reduced Bone Mass
Testosterone and estrogen help in the maintenance of bone volume and the development of bone tissue in men and women, respectively. Therefore, people with hormonal imbalance are more vulnerable to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a health condition that affects the bones, causing them to become weak and brittle.
Osteoporosis affects more women than men, with data showing that about half of all women aged 50 and above are at risk of a bone fracture because of osteoporosis. Asian and Caucasian women are more susceptible to the condition than women from other ethnic groups.
19. Difficulty Sleeping
Hormonal imbalance disrupts your sleeping pattern, making it harder for you to fall and stay asleep. It also exposes you to other sleeping disorders, such as sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea repeatedly stop breathing while asleep. They are also likely to develop a snoring problem. When left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to further complications.
20. Mood Swings and Changes
Testosterone and estrogen influence a wide variety of mental functions in men and women, respectively. These primary sex hormones help in the production of serotonin, a chemical found in the brain that enhances moods. Hormone deficiency slows down the production of serotonin, leading to mood swings and mental disorders, such as depression. People suffering from mood swings and changes are easily irritable, making it hard for them to create and maintain long-lasting relationships with others.
Hormonal imbalance is often accompanied by low energy levels. When testosterone or estrogen levels drop, one is likely to feel fatigued despite having enough sleep and rest. They are also more likely to feel tired at all times and might have an urgent need to lie down constantly. Such people may also notice they no longer enjoy activities they previously liked, such as swimming, jogging, or cycling.
Causes of Low Estrogen
Estrogen is mainly produced by the ovaries. Therefore, any condition that negatively affects the ovaries hurts the production of estrogen. Such conditions include:
- Perimenopause and menopause
- A low-functioning pituitary gland
- Turner syndrome
- Chronic kidney disease
- Anorexia and other eating disorders
- Premature ovarian failure caused by a genetic disorder, toxins or an autoimmune condition
Causes of Low Testosterone
- Noonan syndrome
- Klinefelter syndrome
- Radiation or Chemotherapy
- Removal of testicles because of cancer
- Damage to testicles in an accident
- Pituitary gland disease
- Metabolic syndrome
- Certain medications, such as antidepressants and narcotic pain medications
It is easy to confuse the symptoms of hormonal imbalance with symptoms associated with other conditions. A visit to the doctor’s office helps to make an accurate diagnosis. Once you visit the doctor, they will assess your symptoms, review your family health history, and carry out a physical exam. They might also order a blood test to check your hormones level. The doctor might also order further tests to check your estradiol and estrone levels if you show these symptoms:
- Hot flashes
In rare cases, the doctor might recommend a brain scan or DNA testing to check for any problems with the endocrine system.
Besides a physical exam, the doctor will also review your medical history and might inquire about:
- Your development in puberty
- Mumps during puberty
- Previous infections of the testicles
- History of a heart attack or a stroke
- History of brain tumor, brain surgery or cranial irradiation
- Previous experiences of head trauma
- Headache and visual field change
- Opiate use
The doctor might also check your:
- Body Mass Index (BMI) or your waist’s circumference to check for obesity
- Testicle size
- Prostate size
- Hair pattern
Hormonal imbalance can affect your health and overall wellbeing. Early diagnosis and treatment of hormonal imbalance can help prevent further complications. For hormone testing and to learn more, contact us at Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, KY!