We’ve all heard about hormones. The notion that most people know is usually pretty vague. Hormones are…welp, there and they do some stuff, right? They are either causing some weird changes inside our bodies, especially and normally during puberty. However, these little guys are a little bit more complex that we’d like to think. So, let’s simplify things in this article and find out what they are and why it is important to be aware of some stuff about them.
Okay, what are they?
Simple question, complicated answer. But let’s imagine that our whole body is a factory where countless cells and molecules work to create, maintain or destroy things to keep the “factory” working. And this factory is divided in many departments that focus on one area/matter, having a common highway: the bloodstream. One of these departments is the endocrine system, which has multiple locations (thyroid, ovaries/testes, pituitary gland, etc.). Here, the workers are in fact molecules or messengers that travel through the bloodstream directly to different organs and tissues to do their jobs. They are basically messengers who tell other “workers” in various “departments” how to exert their functions. Pretty simple, right?
Welp, in theory, it sounds easy, but their job is extremely important and much more complex. They are responsible for your growth, in every aspect (from weight, height to breasts and hips), your metabolism a.k.a. how quick your organism transforms food in energy, your appearance (the aspect of your hair, skin, nails), your sexual function and libido and even your mood! They are incredibly powerful and when they are not under control anymore, things can go from pretty bad to horrendous quickly.
Why do I need to know about them?
No one can know every single thing that happens in their bodies since the human organism is still pretty much a mystery. However, knowing why and how things change in your body can help you a lot. Your first big hormonal changes happen during puberty, the time when you start to physically mature and your body prepares itself for great changes. You get your first period, experience huge changes in appearance (you may notice acne, hair growing in various places, such as your face, armpits, legs and private areas or a sudden growing spurt). All these changes are normal and happen because of hormones.
What it is not normal are extreme changes such as growing breasts on boys and extreme pain during periods for girls. They are caused by…you guessed it, hormones! If there is any type of hormonal imbalance, you body will reflect it. If you notice any abnormalities, such as sudden and really bad breast/abdominal/testicular pains, your period is late by many months years after you started puberty, strange bumps and lumps, go to see a doctor! This imbalance can impact your life in a negative way if you leave it untreated.
What are the causes of hormonal imbalances?
Stress, drugs, alcohol and certain medication are a few of the causes. It can also be hereditary, meaning that it kind of runs in your family. Poly-cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), gynecomastia (development of breast tissue in men) or hirsutism(excessive hair growth) are some of the symptoms of hormonal changes that affect many people. Think of these workers in the endocrine system department going all over the places, ordering around or, on the contrary, doing nothing or disappearing. The exact same thing happens with hormonal imbalances.
You can improve and even get rid of some of these imbalances by going to a doctor specialized in hormones, called endocrinologist. They will prescribe you a treatment, depending on your symptoms and other important factors, such as age, weight and medical record. These little guys are so tiny, yet they affect your daily life: from sleep, bowel movements, hunger to your mood, reproductive system and even immune system! So, whenever you have a sudden hunger, you are sleepless or experience some sort of mood swing, remember: the “workers” in their own department might have gone a little bit hectic or lazy.