You’re losing weight
Of course this doesn’t apply if you’ve started a new diet or exercise program. But “if you’re not trying to lose weight and you’re losing more than two kilos without any effort then you need to see a doctor,” says Dr Bhatia. “The two-kilo rule is a pretty safe guide – almost everyone I know fluctuates that amount – but if you’re having progressive steady weight loss, that’s something bigger and needs to be seen.”
You can blame weight loss on all sorts of disorders – from stress and chronic illness, to digestive disorders and infections, to chronic anaemia and cancer, says Dr Bhatia. See a doctor if you’ve lost more than 5 kilos (or 5 per cent of your normal body weight) over a span of six to 12 months or less, and you don’t know why.
You’re gaining weight
Just like unexplained weight loss, unexplained weight gain is also something to see a doctor about. “Many people will dismiss it,” says Dr Bhatia. “They think they can get a handle on it and before they know it five kilos has turned into ten has turned into 20.”
It could be a sign of an underactive thyroid, polycystic ovarian syndrome, or Cushing’s syndrome. Did you start a new medication? Lots of drugs – like corticosteroids, birth control pills, diabetes meds, and some drugs used to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression – can cause you to gain weight. “If you see your doctor at the four- or five-kilo mark, it’s much easier to reverse it,” says Dr Bhatia.
You have a low libido
If you never feel like getting frisky between the sheets, you might want to talk to a healthcare provider about it. You wouldn’t be the first. “It’s a common complaint I get from women, but it’s increasingly common in men,” says Dr Bhatia. “Women are overwhelmed and exhausted, and since libido is tied into emotions, we see libido go down if there’s a disconnect from themselves or their partners.”
As for men, Dr Bhatia blames what she calls “the oestrogenisation of men,” which happens when there’s “a convergence of high stress, very poor lifestyle habits, and weight gain,” she says. As a result, “it’s almost like men are dropping their testosterone level faster than they did in the past and that’s affecting their libido.”
Having a low libido can be totally normal, but it can also be caused by a hormone imbalance, depression, or certain medications.