Do you have a sex hormone imbalance? Sex hormones - primarily testosterone, estrogen and progesterone - are vital not just for a healthy sex life but for health in general. Imbalances can affect both sexes and produce a variety of symptoms.
The following symptoms may indicate a sex hormone imbalance: Low libido, insomnia or poor sleep quality, anxiety, depression, memory problems, rapid and persistent weight gain, mood swings, fatigue and persistent headaches. In men, gynecomastia (growing breasts) is a sign of too little testosterone, too much estrogen or both. Contrary to popular belief, both sexes produce (and need) both types of sex hormone, just in different amounts. There are tests that can be done to work out whether you have an imbalance. Imbalances are more common in women over 40 and men over 50, but can happen at any age.
For women, the most common imbalance is between estrogen and progesterone. This can cause cravings (which is why pregnant women get cravings - progesterone increases during pregnancy), mood swings and weight gain. Testosterone imbalances can also affect women. Too much testosterone can cause excessive hair growth, including facial hair. Too little causes weight gain and reduced libido - so, yes, women do sometimes need HRT testosterone to fix bedroom problems.
For men, reduced testosterone levels are the most common problem. This can also result in too much estrogen, which can cause gynecomastia, as well as hair loss, weight gain and irritability. Too little testosterone lowers the sex drive, reduces performance and can cause weight loss, especially muscle loss. HRT testosterone replacement can help with both of these problems.
HRT (hormone replacement therapy) should be considered for menopausal women as well as men, and for anyone experiencing sleep problems or sexual dysfunction. Women who have had their ovaries removed should consider combination therapy, whilst women who have had a hysterectomy often receive estrogen only. While low testosterone is rarely a problem for women, some women may need a very low dose to sustain sexual interest or help stave off cognitive decline.
In men, the reverse is true - the most likely hormone needed is testosterone. Testosterone replacement can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
If you think you might have a sex hormone imbalance, take our quick assessment to gauge your status and find out if HRT is right for you. It can help you deal with symptoms - even ones you might have had for years and had no idea it had anything to do with your sex hormone levels.