Signs of Hormone Imbalance in Males and Females & What To Do About It
By Britni Vincent, RD, LD
April 1, 2021
When you think about hormones most people think about how hormones effect females. A female’s hormonal fluctuations are a bit more obvious than male’s— monthly menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding, perimenopause and menopause. Even though hormonal balance isn’t always as obvious in males as females, a hormonal imbalance in males can affect them just as much as females.
Both males and females produce estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. They are produced in different amounts and provide different functions, but a balance of the three hormones in both males and females are crucial for optimal health.
Lifestyle, environment and genetics can all play a role in hormone balance; however, lifestyle and environment are the biggest influencers on hormones. Sleep, stress, gut health, toxin exposure, diet, exercise can all have major impacts. In recent decades Americans have more stress, are more sleep deprived, eat more sugar, are exposed to more toxins, have poorer gut health and are less active. This is a recipe for hormone imbalance and the research shows just that. Between 1973 and 2011 there has been a 50-60% decline in sperm counts among men from North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.1 Today in the U.S., about 16 percent of girls enter puberty by the age of 7, and about 30 percent by the age of 8.2 A recent study determined that the number of girls entering puberty (defined by breast development) at these early ages has increased markedly between 1997 and 2010.2
These are just two startling examples of how imbalanced our hormones have become. It’s apparent that this is a real issue that has major effects outside of just not feeling well. You may be wondering if your symptoms or health conditions can be tied back to hormonal imbalance.
Here are some symptoms of hormone imbalance for both males and females with the potential cause in parentheses. Since many people don’t talk about this topic openly you may not have even realized what you are feeling or experiencing isn’t “normal.”
Signs of sex hormone imbalance in males:
- Low libido (low testosterone/estrogen dominance)
- Inability to gain muscle (low testosterone/insulin resistance/estrogen dominance)
- Frequent urination (estrogen dominance)
- Enlarged prostate (estrogen dominance)
- Erectile dysfunction (low testosterone/estrogen dominance)
- Weight gain in the breasts (estrogen dominance)
- Hair loss (estrogen dominance & can be other causes not related to hormones)
- Prediabetes, type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance/ low testosterone/ estrogen dominance)
- Infertility (estrogen dominance/ low testosterone & can be other causes not related to hormones)
Signs of sex hormone imbalance in females:
- Low libido (estrogen dominance/low testosterone/low progesterone)
- Weight gain in hips, thighs, butt and arms (estrogen dominance)
- PCOS (insulin resistance/estrogen dominance/low progesterone)
- Irregular menstrual cycle (estrogen dominance/low progesterone)
- Acne, especially cystic on the jawline and chin (estrogen dominance)
- Migraines triggered by ovulation and/or menstruation (estrogen dominance)
- PMS (estrogen dominance)
- Incontinence (estrogen dominance & can be other causes not related to hormones)
- Hot flashes (estrogen dominance)
- Insomnia (estrogen dominance/low progesterone & can be other causes not related to hormones)
- Vaginal dryness (estrogen dominance)
- Early puberty (estrogen dominance)
- Ovarian cysts (estrogen dominance)
- Uterine fibroids (estrogen dominance)
- Endometriosis (estrogen dominance)
- Fibrocystic breasts (estrogen dominance)
- Menstrual cramps (estrogen dominance)
- Infertility (estrogen dominance/low progesterone & can be other causes not related to hormones)
As you can see many of the symptoms listed above can be caused by estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance in females means that you have too much estrogen in comparison to your progesterone. Occasionally, estrogen dominance can be due to low progesterone production, which likely means you aren’t ovulating. This naturally occurs during perimenopause and can also happen from being on a birth control pill. However, more often, estrogen dominance is because the body has too many unhealthy, artificial estrogens from xenoestrogens, which are chemicals in our environment that mimic estrogen in the body. Or in some cases, estrogen dominance occurs when you have both low progesterone production and too much estrogen in your body; the combination of the two makes symptoms even worse.
Estrogen dominance in males means you have too much estrogen in comparison to your testosterone. This can occur from low testosterone, which reduces with age, from insulin resistance, and stress. It can also occur from excess estrogen even if a man has a healthy testosterone level. Often it is a combination of excess estrogen and low testosterone, making the imbalance even worse. Men can also be affected by the unhealthy, artificial estrogens from our environment, just like was mentioned above with females.
Steps anyone can take to rebalance their hormones:
- Get at least 7 ½ hours of sleep. Here are some articles and podcasts about sleep.
- Reduce your sugar— remember, all carbs (fruit, pasta, bread, crackers, baked goods, veggies) break down to sugar in your body.
- Increase your veggies, specifically cruciferous veggies (bok choy, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale). These help to detox excess estrogen through healthy and regular bowel movements.
- Reduce your stress: incorporate ways to include more rest and recovery while working on the stressors you can control (sleep and diet).
- Balance your blood sugar by consuming healthy fats every time you eat (avocados, olives, olive oil, nuts, butter, etc.), protein at each meal and snack during the day (not necessary at bedtime snack), and lowering your processed carbohydrates. Keeping your blood sugar balanced will help to reduce insulin resistance. Here are some articles and podcasts about insulin resistance to learn more.
- Reduce your exposure to toxins. Refer to the Skin Deep database to see how toxic your beauty care and household products are and to find non-toxic options. Refer to the EWG Water Database to see what toxins are in your water.
Hormones can be confusing and overwhelming. If this article resonated with you, I’d encourage you to make a virtual one-on-one appointment with me or one of the other dietitians/nutritionists. We will help you come up with an individualized plan and provide you more education so you have a good understanding of what may be going on in your body with your hormones.
This month on our blog we’ll be sharing more ways to balance hormones, along with our most recommended hormonal supplements. Subscribe to our weekly newsletter or follow us on social media to be notified of those next posts.
For more information on hormones, check out these resources:
- Listen: How Hormones Affect Your Breast Cancer Risk
- Read: 5 Hormone-Related Symptoms That Often Go Ignored
- Inspiration: “I feel like a woman again, finally getting my period after two years of not getting it. I feel so healthy, less anxious and more balanced than I ever have!” – Ali’s story