Despite sticking to his tried-and-true jogging and weight lifting routine, Mark noticed that he seemed to be losing muscle mass. Where his triceps once held his skin taut, flabbiness was starting to take over. But the real wake-up call came when he saw an older picture of himself. In the two years since the picture was taken, his pectoral areas had grown substantially—but it was all fat. When increasing his workouts didn’t help, Mark began to wonder if he had a health issue that he wasn’t aware of.
Mark was right: he had developed a hormonal imbalance. Men are just as vulnerable to experiencing hormonal issues as women are and although men’s hormonal issues often receive far less attention, they can be just as damaging. Hormonal imbalances can reshape the way you look and feel, leaving you struggling with unfamiliar physical and emotional challenges.
Unfortunately, many men don’t know how to identify a hormonal imbalance and instead attribute their body’s changes to lifestyle or aging, leaving the root cause unaddressed and needlessly prolonging suffering. By learning to recognize key hormonal imbalance symptoms in men, you can better understand what you are experiencing and seek the treatment you need to feel like yourself again.
5 Key Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance In Men
Identifying a hormonal balance can be difficult in part because hormonal issues often appear inconsistently symptomatic and may initially be too mild to recognize as a serious health concern. As such, you may not realize that you have an imbalance until symptoms become severe. Additionally, hormonal imbalances can cause a broad range of physical and psychological symptoms, many of which overlap with those of other health conditions, making it hard to pinpoint hormones as the cause without more extensive testing. However, there are five key symptoms that commonly indicate a hormonal imbalance in men:
- Gynecomastia (male breasts)
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Losing muscle and gaining fat
- Mood changes
These symptoms aren’t caused by a hormonal imbalance 100% of the time, but they strongly suggest that hormones may be at play.
Gynecomastia, or breast enlargement, is a strong indicator of hormonal imbalance in men. It’s easy to write off gynecomastia as a result of a sedentary lifestyle or bad diet, but if your breast tissue is disproportionately large compared to the rest of you, hormonal issues may be the culprit. More specifically, it may indicate that the ratio of testosterone to estrogen has been thrown out of alignment.
While gynecomastia itself is not physically harmful, it can be emotionally distressing and take a toll on your self-esteem. Luckily, there are solutions; although surgery is sometimes an option, medically correcting the underlying hormonal issues is essential..
2. Low Libido
Losing your sex drive can be psychologically difficult and put a strain on your most important relationships. While these changes can have a wide variety of causes, hormonal imbalances often lie at the root of low libido. A dip in testosterone is the most common type of imbalance affecting sex drive, but high estrogen levels may interfere with sexual desire and performance.
A complete medical evaluation with diagnostic testing can help you identify the cause of your low libido. If a hormonal imbalance is identified, hormone therapy may be the best option to help you restore your sex drive.
3. Erectile Dysfunction
If you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, low testosterone may be a contributing cause. However, it’s important to note that low testosterone is rarely the only cause of ED; other factors like depression, heart disease, stress, chronic illness, inflammation, and insomnia are typically the primary driver. If a hormonal imbalance is implicated in your ED, addressing the imbalance may help, but most men will need additional treatment or lifestyle changes to restore healthy function.
4. Losing Muscle and Gaining Fat
If you are gaining fat while simultaneously losing muscle without changing your lifestyle, it is natural to assume an imperfect diet and suboptimal exercise regimen are to blame. But in many cases, these changes in body composition are the result of a hormonal imbalance.
The testosterone in your body regulates the maintenance of your muscles. If your testosterone levels drop, your muscles will typically atrophy more readily than they would otherwise. Because muscle burns calories, loss of muscle mass means your body will need fewer calories to maintain the same weight. In other words, if you keep eating what you’ve always eaten, you’re likely going to gain weight.
However, testosterone isn’t the only hormone associated with weight changes. High levels of cortisol can cause weight gain and muscle loss by downregulating your metabolism and suppressing testosterone production. Thyroid disorders, particularly hypothyroidism, can also decrease your metabolism and lead to unwanted weight gain. Getting to the root of your body’s changes is essential to ensure you receive the right treatment and supports.
5. Mood Changes
While hormonal imbalances can lead to a multitude of physical symptoms, they can also have a profound impact on mood. Low testosterone levels often manifest in irritability, decreased motivation, mood swings, anxiety, and depression. These symptoms may also be experienced by men with thyroid disorders. Unfortunately, many men don’t realize that their symptoms are caused by a hormonal imbalance and don’t receive appropriate treatment. If you are concerned about your mood, it is critical to seek professional help and evaluate whether a hormonal imbalance could be behind your symptoms in order to ensure you have the right supports to restore emotional and behavioral tranquility.
Using BHRT To Conquer Hormonal Imbalances
If you are experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalances in men, you aren’t alone, and you aren’t powerless. With bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), you can restore your body’s hormonal environment to the way it was when you felt good. When you undergo BHRT, you will work with a practitioner who will test your hormone levels and other critical biomarkers, determine if you are experiencing an imbalance, and design a customized treatment to alleviate your symptoms. This plan will typically include not only hormone therapy, but lifestyle changes to support greater wellness. While lifestyle changes alone will not correct a hormonal imbalance, they can be a critical part of helping you feel your best physically and psychologically.
By listening to your body and taking action, you can take control of your hormone imbalance and get back to feeling the way you want—but the first step is to seek help. Remember: even if you think your symptoms are embarrassing, men everywhere experience the same thing. More importantly, men are increasingly recognizing that they don’t have to suffer; with the right treatment, you can start the path to recovery.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, it’s time to reach out for support. BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioners are experts in treating hormonal imbalances in men using an integrative approach that includes bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Get started on a customized treatment plan designed to help you achieve your health goals and enhance your quality of life—contact a local practitioner within the BodyLogicMD network to schedule your first appointment, or take our Hormone Balance Quiz today.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. All content on this website is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases.
Charlotte is a patient care coordinator specializing in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. She is committed to helping patients who struggle with the symptoms of hormonal change and imbalance explore their treatment options and develop effective strategies to optimize wellness.