With the onset of puberty comes an avalanche of hormones for your teenager. This can be a tricky time for both adolescents and their parents to navigate.
Even though it can take a few years for hormones to level out a little, they can still become imbalanced due to a variety of underlying causes.
Sometimes symptoms are visible like with delayed development, or sudden weight gain or loss, but many teenagers tend to be reluctant to share more subtle concerns like menstrual irregularity. In many cases, your teen may not even realize anything is amiss.
Hormones are the chemical messengers in the human body responsible for maintaining the body’s homeostasis. During puberty, the hypothalamus produces gonadotropin, a hormone that instigates the production of sex, adrenal, and growth hormones. The spike in each of these hormones affects the teenager’s body, moods, emotions, and impulses.
What Are the Symptoms of Teenage Hormone Imbalance?
At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center we know that irregular or heavy periods, fatigue, weight gain, facial hair and extreme moodiness are all common symptoms of teen hormone imbalance. But there are other less common signs, as well, that can occur in various combinations depending on a teen’s specific hormonal issues:
Increased sensitivity to cold or heat
Constipation or more frequent bowel movements
Puffy or rounded face
Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
Increased or decreased heart rate
Pain or stiffness in muscles or joints
Hair loss or fine, brittle hair
Depression or anxiety
A fatty hump between the shoulders
Purple or pink stretch marks
Common Causes of Teen Hormone Imbalance
One of the most common causes of hormone imbalance in teen girls is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Scientists and doctors are still working to understand what exactly causes PCOS, but it’s estimated to affect between 5 and 10 percent of women in their reproductive years.
A healthy, diverse microbiome is involved with manufacturing healthy hormones and moderating the body’s inflammatory response. A healthy gut is one major ally toward better hormonal balance in your teen. Beneficial bacteria in the gut help extract nutrients from food, producing thousands of beneficial metabolites that are involved in metabolic and hormone function.
Gynecomastia is a condition most noticeably marked by enlarged breast tissue in males. Though not uncommon, it could indicate testosterone deficiency or estrogen excess in boys. As androgen levels rise in puberty, gynecomastia will often resolve naturally. But if you notice these changes in your child, it’s important to let your child’s doctor know.
Which Hormones Commonly Cause Problems for Teenage Girls?
This hormone is produced by the ovaries and increases production during ovulation. Low progesterone can cause headaches, anxiety and irregular periods. Progesterone also plays a part in balancing estrogen, so when progesterone is low, dominant estrogen can create its own set of problems.
An estrogen imbalance can impact every aspect of a young woman’s life. Too much estrogen can cause you to gain weight, lose your sex drive, have tender breasts, mood swings and PMS. Too little estrogen can lead to hot flashes, frequent UTIs, fatigue, body pain and difficulties concentrating.
Cortisol is commonly called “the stress hormone.” Excess cortisol can cause Cushing’s disease, weight gain, anxiety and depression in teen girls. Low cortisol leads to Addison’s disease, fatigue and weight loss.
Hyperthyroidism, or too much thyroid hormone can cause anxiety, weight loss, heart palpitations, irregular periods and fatigue among other symptoms. Hypothyroid, or low thyroid hormone levels, can also lead to fatigue, weight gain, depression, dry skin and hair and irregular periods.
Teen girls also have testosterone and it is one of the culprits of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) but can also cause other health issues such as dark hair growth on the face and problems with acne.
Things You Can Do to Support Your Hormonal Teen
Quality proteins, nutrient-dense plant foods, and healthy fats provide the vitamins, minerals, and raw materials your child’s body needs to manufacture hormones and build a healthy microbiome.
The gut is intricately connected to every other system in the body, including the brain and hormone systems. Much of what goes on in the digestive system will affect your teen physically and mentally.
Teach stress management
Hormonal changes can be incredibly stressful for teens, and it’s important to teach them proper coping mechanisms to help them thrive physically, emotionally, socially, and academically.
Start by modeling healthy stress management techniques, like journaling or exercising, and make sure they have a healthy outlet for big or difficult feelings.
Get consistent and adequate sleep
Because your teen is going through so many changes, and often has a busy school schedule, adequate and consistent sleep is a must. During this time teens may need as much as 10 hours of sleep every night–especially if they’re experiencing a growth spurt.
Keep devices out of the bedroom, and stick to a consistent sleep and waking schedule each day. Do your best to help your teen keep their room clean, cool, and inviting each night to facilitate healthier sleep.
Call Atlantic & Endocrinology Diabetes Center today and set up a consultation with our compassionate, expert team. We’re here to listen to your concerns and help you find the safest and most effective solution to teen hormone imbalance.