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Hormonal Imbalance Effects on Women

author image Dr. Tina M. St. John
Tina M. St. John runs a health communications and consulting firm. She is also an author and editor, and was formerly a senior medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. St. John holds an M.D. from Emory University School of Medicine.
Hormonal Imbalance Effects on Women
A woman is sitting in front of a fan. Photo Credit dolgachov/iStock/Getty Images


The endocrine organs and tissues regulate many body functions, from the overall pace of the body metabolism to the precise timing of the menstrual cycle. Hormone imbalances can profoundly affect female fertility and many other body functions. The physical effects of a hormone imbalance on a woman's body often helps her doctor home in on the underlying cause of the problem.

Irregular Menstrual Periods

Irregular menstrual periods in women of childbearing age are a hallmark symptom of hormone imbalance. Many diseases and conditions can upset the proper hormone balance required for regular menstruation, notes the National Library of Medicine encyclopedia MedlinePlus. Inconsistent female hormone production by the ovaries—such as occurs in women approaching menopause and those with polycystic ovary syndrome—commonly causes irregular menstruation. An overactive or underactive thyroid gland also frequently leads to irregular periods. Abnormal levels of hormones from the pituitary gland of the brain or the adrenal glands can also provoke a hormone imbalance, leading to irregular menstrual periods. Blood tests to measure various hormone levels aids in determining the underlying cause of menstrual irregularity.

Excess Body Hair

The adrenal glands of women normally produce small amounts of testosterone. Among women with abnormally elevated testosterone production, excessive body hair growth, or hirsutism, commonly develops. Women with excess testosterone, or hyperandrogenism, may notice coarse hair growth on the torso, back, extremities, upper lip or chin, reports the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Possible causes of hyperandrogenism with hirsutism include polycystic ovary syndrome, certain types of ovarian tumors, pituitary tumors, and adrenal gland overgrowth or tumors.

Scalp Hair Loss

Several types of hormone imbalances can cause scalp hair loss in women. Male pattern balding, with a receding hairline and hair loss on top of the head, can occur in women with excessive circulating testosterone. Women with an overactive or underactive thyroid gland frequently experience overall thinning of the scalp hair, notes the American Academy of Family Physicians on the patient information website FamilyDoctor.org.

Hot Flashes

Hot flashes are sudden, brief periods of profuse sweating accompanied by the feeling of being overheated. Hot flashes occur in approximately 85 percent of women as they approach menopause and for a variable time after menopause, reports the medical information website InteliHealth. Biomedical scientists theorize that hot flashes occur due to low estrogen levels.

Hot flashes in young women may be a symptom of primary ovarian insufficiency, a condition in which the ovaries fail to consistently produce normal levels of female sex hormones, explains the National Institutes of Health. Women with primary ovarian insufficiency may develop premature osteoporosis due to the hormone imbalances associated with the condition.

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