In this article we’re sharing our answers to 9 of your most Googled questions on hormones.

We’ll cover what hormones are, what may cause a hormone imbalance, the different types of hormones including sex and stress hormones, oestrogen, and testosterone, as well as touching on hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

What are hormones?

Travelling in your bloodstream to tissues or organs, hormones are the bodies chemical messengers. Hormones affect many different processes, including: 

  • Growth and development 
  • Metabolism 
  • Sexual function 
  • Reproduction 
  • Mood

The endocrine system is made up of all the body’s different hormones. The major endocrine glands are the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenal glands, and pancreas.1

In addition, men produce hormones in their testes and women in their ovaries.

How to balance hormones?

What causes hormone imbalance?

Many factors can trigger a hormone imbalance, including: 

  • Puberty 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Menopause 
  • Chronic stress 
  • Steroids 
  • Certain medications 
  • Autoimmune conditions, including Graves’ disease, type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s disease, polyglandular syndromes, and Addison’s disease 
  • Endocrine gland injury caused by radiation therapy, infection, trauma, excessive blood loss, or damage from surgery 
  • Tumours, growths, or adenomas (noncancerous tumours on the pituitary, parathyroid or adrenal glands)2,3

How to know if you have a hormone imbalance?

There are many signs and indicators that you may have a potential hormone imbalance, these can include:

  • Mood swings 
  • Heavy or painful periods 
  • Low libido 
  • Insomnia or poor-quality sleep 
  • Unexplained weight gain 
  • Skin problems 
  • Fertility problems 
  • Headaches 
  • Weak bones 
  • Vaginal dryness4

Other than a potential hormone imbalance, these symptoms can be found in more serious medical conditions (e.g., PCOS), so it would be advised to speak to your GP if you are experiencing any of these signs.

Can hormone imbalance cause depression?

Hormones and neurotransmitters share mutual pathways and receptor sites in areas of the brain linked to mood.

Studies have suggested that there’s an increased risk for major depressive disorder (MDD) in women compared with men; these risks appear to become more evident after puberty and continue throughout the reproductive life cycle.5

Can hormone imbalance cause dizziness?

Yes, hormonal imbalance can cause dizziness.6

Is hormone replacement therapy safe?

Used to help menopause symptoms, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment which replaces the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. This is because as you approach menopause these hormones fall to low levels.7

The effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) vary depending on a few factors. It can differ based on the types of hormones used, whether it’s given in pills, or patches and gels, as well as the timing of first use – for example, around menopause, or later.8

The NHS states that the benefits of HRT usually outweigh the risks. And that recent evidence suggests that the risks of serious side effects from HRT are very low.9

What are stress hormones?

Cortisol is widely known as the body’s stress hormone. It is produced, and naturally released, by your adrenal glands. When you are stressed, increased cortisol is released into your bloodstream.10

What are sex hormones?

Sex hormones are also known as sex steroids, gonadal steroids, and gonadocorticoids. The sex steroid hormones (SSHs) play several roles in regulation of various processes in the cardiovascular, immune, muscular, and neural systems.11

The main reproductive hormones are oestrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. These are instrumental in sexuality and fertility – responsible for pregnancy, puberty, menstruation, menopause, sex drive, sperm production and more.12

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is the primary male hormone responsible for regulating sex differentiation, producing male sex characteristics, spermatogenesis (the process by which sperm cell production occurs), and fertility.13

In men, it’s thought to regulate: 

  • Sex drive (libido) 
  • Bone mass 
  • Fat distribution 
  • Muscle mass and strength 
  • Production of red blood cells and sperm14

What is oestrogen?

Oestrogen is one of the main female sex hormones, predominantly produced by the ovaries.

In the female body, oestrogen is needed for: 

  • Puberty and breast development 
  • The menstrual cycle 
  • Fertility and pregnancy 
  • Bone strength 
  • Maintaining normal cholesterol levels

Oestrogen also affects other parts of your body, such as your brain and heart. Oestrogen also plays a part in supporting bladder control and helping to protect your skin from the effects of ageing.15

The final say

We hope this has cleared up some of your questions around hormones. If you feel like you may be experiencing a hormonal imbalance and would like some individual advice, we’d recommend speaking to your GP.