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
Losing muscle no matter how much protein’s in your diet? This is a huge sign your hormones are thrown out of whack. 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. Night sweats occur in men occur when testosterone levels are low. For women, hot flashes occur at night when progesterone levels are low and estrogen levels rise, says Medical Daily. 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
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 in both genders.
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 carry a huge mug of coffee around with you every morning, you may have imbalanced hormones. BodyLogicMD explains an imbalance can make women feel tired, especially around menopause. Fatigue may come on more gradually for men if it’s a sign of a hormonal issue. If you’re noticing you’re consistently drowsy, this is worth considering.
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. Nanette Santoro, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist, tells Shape an imbalance in women involving progesterone is likely the reason your body holds onto water. Hormone changes can also disrupt the digestive system in either gender, 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 year you graduated high school? 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: Is your junk food habit ruining your hormones?
If you’re already addicted to sugar, then it shouldn’t strike you as unusual when you reach for a candy bar or two. If you’re having cravings out of your norm, however, it’s time to pay attention. Mindbodygreen says hormone issues like adrenal fatigue or insulin resistance are typically the reason you’re reaching for the junk food. To help balance you out, avoid processed sweets, alcohol, dairy, and wheat, and stock up on the fresh fruits and veggies.
Next: Migraines may occur from this surprising reason.
Sick of waking up with a serious headache? It might be time to get your hormonal levels checked out. Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels can trigger migraines in women, Everyday Health reports, so don’t be surprised if you start reaching for the Advil around menopause. As for men, research suggests low levels of testosterone could be to blame. Testosterone replacement therapy isn’t a viable option for all men, but if you’re interested, talk to your doctor about your options.
Next: This alarming symptom is more common than you think.
11. Fibrocystic breasts
If you suddenly notice your breast tissue feels tender, lumpy, or rope-like in texture, don’t panic just yet. The Mayo Clinic says you could have fibrocystic breasts, which over half of women experience. And many women actually have fibrocystic tissue with no symptoms whatsoever. If you’re in your 50s or around the time of menopause, the hormonal changes can cause this.
There’s good news for women past this age — you’re highly unlikely to get this annoying symptom. So if you’re over the hump of menopause and you notice breast tenderness or lumps, check with your doctor.
Next: If you develop this syndrome, your hormonal imbalance could have caused it.
12. Frozen shoulder syndrome
Yes — an extremely stiff shoulder could be a sign of a hormonal problem. WebMD explains this condition causes your shoulder joint to stiffen slowly over time. Eventually, the shoulder “thaws” and you can regain mobility, but the entire process can take up to three years.
Those between the ages of 40 and 60 are most likely to develop frozen shoulder syndrome, but certain conditions having to do with your hormones can also increase your risk. If you have thyroid disease or diabetes, you may be more likely to get it.
Next: Those pins and needles could signal a bigger issue.
13. Tingling limbs
There’s a reason many women report feeling tingling in their extremities, especially around menopause. The Australian Menopause Centre says hormone fluctuations, specifically changes in estrogen levels, are to blame for this uncomfortable feeling. In addition to that pins-and-needles feeling no one wants, you might also experience numbness or a burning or crawling sensation.
While you’re more likely to notice this symptom around menopause, that’s not the only time your estrogen levels can change, so be wary.
Next: Have you been seeing more clumps of hair in your shower drain lately?
14. Hair loss
Here’s a symptom in both men and women that signals your hormones are changing. While testosterone levels have something to do with it, WebMD explains it’s actually DHT, or a testosterone derivative, that’s responsible. Testosterone converts to DHT, and DHT shrinks hair follicles, causing balding and hair loss. Because men naturally have more testosterone than women, this is why they’re more likely to suffer from this.
Next: There may be a medical reason behind your increasing anxiety.
The stress hormone, cortisol, has a purpose — it can help you stay prepared and alert when you’re faced with danger, for example. But the Calm Clinic explains an issue with your thyroid, the gland that stores and produces hormones, can actually cause an overproduction of hormones. If cortisol is one of those that’s being produced at high speed, then you can bet that your anxiety symptoms are going to skyrocket.
Additional reporting by Meg Dowell.