Do You Have A Hormone Imbalance? Here’s What To Look For

Zandra Palma, MD

Hormones are the engines that keep our bodies running smoothly. And each hormonal system works with the others to communicate and control how your body operates, so if one system runs out-of-sync, even in a seemingly small way, it can have a big impact on how you feel.

At Parsley Health, we look at the three hormonal systems that talk to each other the most: sex hormones, thyroid hormones and adrenal hormones. This can help to determine any imbalances.

If you think you’re hormones are running out of whack, here are the top things to look out for:

Hormone imbalance symptoms

Sex hormones

Imbalances in your sex hormones can affect men and women differently, as women will most commonly experience symptoms related to over or under production of estrogen and men testosterone.

Men dealing with imbalance of sex hormones may experience:

  • Changes in their libido
  • Changes in their muscle mass
  • Reduced body hair
  • Erectile dysfunction

Women with a sex hormone imbalance may experience:

  • Irregular periods
  • Mood swings
  • Painful periods
  • Breast tenderness
  • Water retention
  • Weight gain

Thyroid hormones

Thyroid hormonal imbalances can produce two extremes of symptoms, depending on whether you have an overactive thyroid, or hyperthyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism. Whichever it is, producing too much or too little thyroid hormone can influence almost all of your body’s metabolic processes, from burning calories to regulating heart beat. Some of the most common symptoms people experience are:

  • Weight gain
  • Lethargy
  • Problems with skin, hair and nails
  • Constipation
  • Anemia

Adrenal hormones

This system includes stress hormones like cortisol and DHEA, which determine how your body responds to stress, while driving other essential processes like your metabolism, blood pressure and immune system. People commonly experience:

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Problems with diurnal rhythm (i.e. being too awake at night and not awake enough during the day)
  • Water retention
  • Belly fat
  • Issues with tolerating stress

What causes hormonal imbalance?

So now that you know what a hormonal imbalance may look like, it’s important to understand why it may be happening in the first place. These are three of the most common underlying causes of hormonal imbalance:

Compromised gut health

Gastrointestinal issues like a low-line gut infection or gut inflammation can play a role in throwing off your hormones. Specifically, intestinal permeability or leaky gut can impact hormones including estrogen by disrupting estrobolome , the gut bacteria that metabolize estrogens. In addition to estrogen, the gut produces about 90 percent of the brain hormone known as serotonin and therefore, gut imbalances can impair the production of this feel good hormone contributing to anxiety and depression.

High inflammation

Chronic inflammation is at the root of most diseases and imbalances in the body which has a direct effect on internal hormone regulation. This is because inflammation is not only a local response in the body, but a hormone-controlled process which can have profound downstream effects systemically. When you have persistent, high levels of inflammation, that typically means your body is trying to fight off unharmful substances, leading to a host of negative effects.


When you’re constantly stressed, your body produces too much of the stress hormone cortisol. This can have a direct impact on the other hormonal systems in your body, like testosterone. Being more aware of your stress levels and taking time to consciously reduce them can be a saving grace for your hormone levels.

Hormone imbalance treatment

We do several types of in-depth hormone testing at Parsley Health. First we look at your hormone levels, then we measure how they’re talking to each other. This helps us determine the best hormonal imbalance treatment plan if your hormones are off. Medicines, herbs, and supplements can help balance your hormones, but really the underlying cause is usually driven by your lifestyle and environment. This means you can have great success resolving your hormonal imbalance naturally.

Zandra Palma, MD

Zandra Palma received her Bachelor’s Degree in Science from Harvard and her medical degree from Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons. Prior to studying functional medicine, she trained in internal medicine and anesthesiology. She has a special place in her heart (and practice) for environmental medicine, and hopes to use what she’s learned in this area to shift human health on a large scale.

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