There’s no doubt about it — natural hormonal changes can be difficult to deal with. Fluctuations happen to us all as we age, exercise, and eat. There’s nothing wrong with an occasional flux, but a true imbalance can have severe consequences. Low testosterone can cause issues for men, while low estrogen or progesterone levels can be troublesome for women, says Medical Daily. When hormones go wild, both men and women should visit the doctor if they recognize the following symptoms.
1. Muscle loss
Hitting the gym daily and still feeling like the scrawniest of the bunch? Your hormones may be the source of your frustration. An imbalance involving too little testosterone in the body can lead to muscle loss, weight gain, and a loss in bone density, says Bodybuilding.com. While we typically associate testosterone with men, women can have this hormone imbalance, too. Age and stress have a lot to do with declining testosterone levels.
Since you can only fix one of these, we suggest lowering your stress levels ASAP.
Next: There’s nothing worse than waking up like this.
2. Night sweats
There’s nothing worse than waking up sweaty. Both men and women may experience night sweats as a side effect of a hormone imbalance. For women, hot flashes occur at night when progesterone levels are low and estrogen levels rise, says Medical Daily. Additionally, rising cortisol levels due to stress can lower progesterone even more. If there was ever a good reason to work on your stress levels, this may be it.
Next: Fighting with your bathroom scale?
3. Weight gain
You’re eating clean, working out, and ready to hop on the scale. Surprise! You gained a pound or two since your last weigh-in. While a poor diet and little exercise can lead to weight gain, a hormonal imbalance may also pack on pounds. Jill Coleman, C.P.T., tells Prevention your hormones play a key role in determining your hunger, cravings, and motivation to exercise. When your hormones are balanced, your metabolism will function properly, which helps keep your weight in a healthy range.
Next: Is your sex life in trouble?
4. Low sex drive
While most couples attribute a fizzling sex life to a loss of connection, many women can blame their low libido on hormones. Dr. Sara Gottfried, M.D., explains the cause of a low sex drive in 70% of cases is a hormonal imbalance. While rising stress levels and an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone can be a female’s culprit, fluctuating testosterone levels could also be problematic.
Next: Your mental health may be at risk.
If you notice you’ve been feeling upset, irritable, and anxious for no reason and you don’t have a history of mental illness, consider asking your doctor about a hormonal imbalance. According to Clinical-Depression.co.uk, too much cortisol and adrenaline may lead to depression, as those who have this mental disorder have an increased level of these hormones in their blood.
Try meditating or starting a new exercise regimen to keep stress at bay.
Next: This is why you feel tired 24/7.
If you’ve been sleeping at least eight hours and you still bring a huge mug of coffee to every meeting, you may have imbalanced hormones. BodyLogicMD explains an imbalance can make women feel tired. For many women, fatigue occurs around menopause when hormone levels are in flux.
Next: An explanation for how big your belly feels right now
None of us asked for this magic trick. Bloating adds pounds and inches, and it can come and go without warning. Many women feel bloated around the time of their period, but fluid retention can be a constant problem for those with a hormone imbalance. Nanette Santoro, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, tells Shape an imbalance involving progesterone is likely the reason your body holds onto water. Hormone changes can also disrupt the digestive system, leading to gas and constipation.
In general, high-fat meals take longer to digest, and cruciferous veggies and carbonated drinks can make your situation worse. While you sort out the hormone issue, avoid foods like these so you don’t have a bigger problem.
Next: Are you forgetting more than usual?
8. Memory problems
Forgot the name of your new co-worker who introduced himself three times already? Your hormones could be to blame. According to WebMD, experts believe progesterone and estrogen changes can cause hormone-induced brain fog. This could be an even bigger issue for menopausal women, as fluctuating hormone levels may cause unclear thinking.
Try yoga or eating veggies to clear your head.
Next: Could contraceptives cure your pounding head?
Headaches occur for many reasons. It could be work stress contributing to the pounding in your skull, or perhaps your family’s medical history has something to do with it. Unfortunately, Mayo Clinic explains headaches can signal hormone fluctuations, which is why many women have them before their period or during pregnancy or menopause.
Some women find hormonal contraception to be effective in curing their chronic headaches, as it minimizes the drop in estrogen that naturally occurs around that time of the month. Talk to your doctor about your options.
Next: Doctors don’t know what causes this painful condition, but it could be hormonal.
10. Pelvic pain from endometriosis
Many women cramp during their monthly cycle, but endometriosis is a bigger concern. According to Women to Women, endometriosis, which often causes severe pelvic pain, occurs when the tissue lining the uterus during menstruation grows outside the uterus and into other areas of the body. Every month, this tissue also releases a small amount of blood during a woman’s menstrual cycle, which can irritate the surrounding tissue and cause scarring to the reproductive organs.
The cause of endometriosis is unknown, but excess estrogen is thought to contribute. Another compound has a structure similar to estrogen called xenoestrogen, and it can contribute to the imbalance. Ladies, if you notice lasting pelvic pain, discomfort during sex, or excessive bloating, take note. It may be worth bringing up to your doctor in case endometriosis is the issue.
Read More: 10 Signs That You Need Your Thyroid Checked
Additional reporting by Meg Dowell.