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What Causes Your Health Conditions and How Can You Manage Them?


Women of various ages and nationalities

Women experience unique health conditions like pregnancy and menopause, but some conditions are common in both women and men. The conditions and required care can sometimes differ significantly for women.

These conditions and their effects on women are listed below.

  • Alcohol Abuse: Millions of women in the United States (U.S.) abuse alcohol, and the health effects of alcohol abuse are more serious in women. Health effects include a greater risk for breast cancer, heart disease, and fetal alcohol syndrome, in which babies born to mothers who drank during pregnancy experience brain damage and learning difficulties.
  • Heart Disease: For women in the U.S., heart disease is the leading cause of death. Delays in emergency care and treatment to control their cholesterol levels contribute to this mortality rate in women.
  • Mental Health: Women are twice as likely to show signs of depression and anxiety than men, and more women are diagnosed with depression yearly. Hormone changes during puberty, pregnancy and menopause are leading causes of depression in women. In contrast to men, women are more likely to comment on their mental health issues and seek treatment.
  • Osteoarthritis: This is a form of arthritis that causes joint pain, stiffness, and swelling and affects more women in the U.S. than men. Osteoporosis is more common in women because they have less bone tissue and experience rapid bone loss due to hormonal changes at menopause.
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Sexually Transmitted Infections (STDs/STIs): The effect of STDs/STIs on women can be more serious than on men, such as causing infertility. STDs/STIs often go untreated in women because symptoms are less obvious than in men or are more likely to be confused with another less serious condition, like a yeast infection.
  • Stress: Almost 50% of all women reported that their stress had increased over the past five years, compared to 39% of men. Stress also reduces a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant.
  • Stroke: Although many risk factors for stroke are the same for men and women, including high blood pressure, family history of stroke, and high cholesterol, some risk factors only affect women. These include:
    • Taking birth control pills
    • Pregnancy
    • Using a combined hormone therapy of progestin and estrogen made to relieve menopausal symptoms
    • Experiencing constant migraine headaches
  • Urinary Tract Health: Urinary tract problems are more common in women than men. For example, urinary incontinence affects more women due to how the female urinary tract is structured.
  • Knee Arthritis: When playing sports, women and girls have a greater chance of injuring their knees due to their knee and hip anatomy, imbalanced leg muscle strength, and looser tendons and ligaments. Walking in high heels also increases stress on the knee joint, placing women at increased risk of developing osteoarthritis.
  • Cardiovascular Risk: Women’s blood vessels are smaller in the heart and more intricately branched than men’s. Therefore, women’s vessels may become blocked in a different pattern.
  • Women can also sometimes receive a wrong diagnosis, or doctors may miss signs of a heart attack due to differing patterns on a heart-screening test.
  • Menstruation and Menstrual Irregularities: Menstrual irregularities can include absent, infrequent, heavy, prolonged, or painful periods. These irregularities can be caused by many conditions, including pregnancy, hormonal imbalances, infections, diseases, trauma, and certain medications.

Hormonal Imbalance can also cause several different health issues in women.

What are hormones?

Hormones are chemicals that carry signals through your blood to your organs, muscles, skin, and other tissues, telling your body what to do. Hormones control many different bodily processes, including:

  • Metabolism
  • Homeostasis (internal balance)
  • Growth and development
  • Sexual function
  • Reproduction
  • Sleep-wake cycle
  • Mood

What is a hormonal imbalance?

Too many or too few hormones can cause a hormonal imbalance and produce significant changes in your body, sometimes leading to certain conditions requiring treatment.
Some hormonal imbalances can be temporary, and others can last long-term. You may also need treatment for some hormonal imbalances to stay physically healthy.

What conditions are caused by hormonal imbalances?

Hormone issues cause many medical issues. The most common hormone-related conditions include:

  • Irregular menstruation: The menstrual cycle involves many hormones, so that an imbalance can cause irregular periods. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and amenorrhea are hormone-related conditions that cause irregular periods.
  • Infertility: Infertility is caused by hormonal imbalances in people assigned to female at birth. Conditions such as PCOS and anovulation can cause infertility.
  • Acne: Hormone fluctuations, especially during puberty, contribute to acne.
  • Hormonal acne (adult acne): For women, hormonal acne (adult acne) typically develops during pregnancy and menopause.
  • Diabetes: In the U.S., the most common hormone-related condition is diabetes. In diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make any or enough of the hormone insulin, or your body doesn’t use it properly.
  • Thyroid disease: Thyroid disease has two main types, hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels) and hyperthyroidism (high thyroid hormone levels).
  • Obesity: Certain hormone imbalances can result in weight gain due to conflicting signals from the hormones in your body. For example, extra cortisol and low thyroid hormones can contribute to obesity.

What causes hormonal imbalances?

Hormone levels rise and fall throughout your life and throughout the day.
Certain times during your life cause certain fluctuations in hormones, including:

  • Puberty
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause

Your hormone levels may be irregular at times for many reasons. Some of the most common causes of imbalanced hormone levels include:

  • Stress
  • Certain medications
  • Steroid use

These hormonal imbalances are fixable with a change in medication or properly managing stress.
The leading chronic hormone-related conditions that cause medically significant hormone imbalances include:

  • Tumors, adenomas, or other growths
  • Damage or injury to an endocrine gland
  • Autoimmune conditions

Woman feeling too warm - hormonal imbalance

Hormone imbalance symptoms that affect your metabolism

Your metabolism can be affected by common hormonal imbalances. Metabolism consists of the chemical reactions in your body’s cells that change the food you eat into energy.

Hormonal imbalance symptoms that affect your metabolism include:

  • Slow heartbeat or rapid heartbeat
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea or frequent bowel movements
  • Tingling in your hands
  • Higher blood cholesterol levels
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Intolerability with cold temperatures or warm temperatures
  • Dry skin and hair
  • Hot and moist skin
  • Irregular body fat distribution
  • Darkened armpit skin or darkened skin on the back and sides of your neck
  • Skin tags
  • Extreme thirst and frequent urination

Sex hormone imbalance symptoms for people assigned female at birth

Imbalances of estrogen and progesterone can occur in people assigned female at birth (AFAB). This imbalance can cause the following symptoms:

  • Face, chest, or upper back acne
  • Hair loss
  • Heavy periods
  • Hirsutism (excess body hair)
  • Hot flashes
  • Infertility
  • Irregular periods
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Vaginal atrophy
  • Vaginal dryness

Can hormone imbalance cause weight gain?

Yes, some hormone imbalances can cause weight gain, including:

  • Hypothyroidism: This occurs when there are low levels of thyroid hormone, which causes your metabolism to slow down.
  • Cushing’s syndrome: This happens when too much cortisol is produced. The result is rapid weight gain in your face, belly, back of your neck, and chest.
  • Menopause: During menopause, hormonal changes cause your metabolism to slow, resulting in weight gain. This type of “hormonal imbalance” is natural.

If you are concerned about your weight, talk to your healthcare provider.

How do you fix hormonal imbalances?

Many conditions caused by hormonal imbalances require medical treatment.

Few nutritional supplements have been proven to help with different hormonal imbalances. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider first about taking supplements.
Your provider might recommend specific lifestyle changes to help with a hormonal imbalance, like managing stress levels and getting routine exercise.



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