Feeling irritable, bloated, or simply not your best? A hormonal imbalance could be the reason. Hormones are natural “messengers” which impact the way your organs and cells function. It is normal for your levels to swing at different times of the life, such as during a pregnancy, before and during the period, or during menopause. Though, certain medications and health problems could cause them to go up or down, as well. 1
Hormonal balance is essential to a healthy, cancer-free body and mind, but can be upset in numerous ways. Hormone fluctuations take place naturally, such as in menopause, perimenopause, and puberty. Hormone imbalance can also be caused by an unbalanced lifestyle or toxins.
So, Do You Have a Hormonal Imbalance?
You probably have a hormonal imbalance if you experience some of the following issues:
- Irregular Periods
Women’s periods come each 21 – 35 days. If yours does not arrive around the same time each month, or you skip a few months, it could mean that you have too little or too much of certain hormones (progesterone and estrogen). The reason could be perimenopause – if you are around 40s or early 50s – which is the time before menopause. However, irregular periods could be a symptom of health issues like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Consult with your GP. 1
- Chronic Acne
A breakout during or before your period is quite normal. However, acne that is not clearing up could be a symptom of hormone issues. An excess of androgens (which are “male” hormones that both women and men have) could cause the oil glands to overwork. These hormones also affect the skin cells around and in the hair follicles. Both of those effects may clog the pores and cause acne. 1
- Sleep Problems
If you are not getting enough sleep, or if the sleep you get is not good, your hormones may be at play. The hormone released by the ovaries, progesterone, aids you to catch Zzz’s. So, if the levels are lesser than usual, that could make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Really low estrogen could trigger night sweats and hot flashes, both of which could make it tough to get the rest you actually need. 1
- Ongoing Fatigue
Do you feel tired all the time? One of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalance is fatigue. If you ae sleepy all the time, then excess progesterone is the reason. And if you are completely “energyless” – then thyroid (the gland in your neck with a shape of a butterfly) makes very little thyroid hormone and thus, sap your energy. A thyroid panel (a simple blood test) can tell you if your levels are really low. In case they are, you will get treated for that. 1
- Digestive problems
Your belly is lined with tiny cells known as receptors, which respond to progesterone and estrogen. When these hormones are lower or higher than usual, you may notice changes in how you are digesting food. That is why nausea, bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea can crop up or get worse before and during the period. In case you are having issues like fatigue and acne, as well as digestive woes, your hormone levels may be off. 1
- Mood Swings and/or Depression
Scientists think fast changes or drops in hormone levels can cause the blues and moodiness. Estrogen affects key brain chemicals like norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. But other hormones, which travel the same pathways as neurotransmitters, play a significant part in how you feel, too. 1
- Memory Fog
Professionals are not quite sure how hormones impact the brain. Though, what they do know is that changes in progesterone and estrogen can make your head feel “foggy” and make it difficult for you to remember certain things. Some specialists think estrogen may impact brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Memory and attention problems are particularly common during perimenopause and menopause. However, they can also be a symptom of some other hormone-related conditions, as thyroid disease. You should talk to your GP if you’re having trouble thinking clearly. 1
Many kinds of stuff can trigger these. Though, for some women, estrogen dip brings them on. That is why it is common for headaches to strike during or right before your period when usually this hormone is on the decline. Steady headaches or ones that frequently surface around the same time every month can be a clue that your estrogen levels might be shifting. 1
- Loss of Libido
Many people think of testosterone as a male hormone, however, woman’s body makes it, too. In case your levels of testosterone are lower than usual, you may experience less of an interest in intercourse than you generally do. 1
See also: 21 Best Foods to Boost Your Libido
- Appetite and Weight Gain
The drops in estrogen are associated with weight gain, because when you’re feeling irritated or blue (as you can be when the estrogen levels dip) you might want to eat more. The estrogen dip may also impact the body’s levels of leptin, which a hunger-revving hormone. 1
- Breast Changes
An increase in estrogen could thicken the breast tissue, even causing cysts or lumps. And a drop in the hormone can make this tissue less dense. Talk to your GP if you notice any breast changes, even if you do not have some other symptoms that concern you. 1
- Vaginal Dryness
It is normal to have vaginal dryness occasionally. However, if you often notice that you’re irritated or dry down there, low levels of estrogen might be the reason. This hormone assists vaginal tissue stay moist and comfy. If your levels of estrogen drop because of a hormone imbalance, it may decrease vaginal fluids and cause tightness. 1
Hormone Imbalance Treatment
If you think you experience any of the possible symptoms of hormone imbalance, then you should visit your GP in order to learn some of the best treatment methods. Your doctor can prescribe some tests to define exactly which type of hormonal imbalance you are suffering from.
Possible hormonal imbalance treatments include:
- Over the Counter Supplements
You may be able to heal some hormone deficiencies by taking OTC supplements. These supplements simply improve levels of a certain hormone within the body.
- Change Your Diet
If you do not get the daily recommended amount of essential vitamins and minerals, then your body might not be making the hormones it needs. Here are some of the most important vitamins and foods you should consume:
- Omega-3 fatty acids are also crucial for the production of vigorous cell membranes. Common sources of omega-3 fatty acids include oysters, trout, tuna, salmon, sardines, walnuts, eggs, and fish. Without enough omega 3s, your body may be creating enough hormones – however, they’re not getting to their proposed end points.
- Zinc that has been associated with higher testosterone levels. You can naturally get this mineral from peanuts, dark chocolate, and meats like lamb, veal, beef, oysters, and crab. Check out more zinc-rich foods: LINK
- Fiber has an essential role in the body’s usage of estrogen. Add high-fiber foods like raw vegetables, raw fruits, and whole grains to your diet.
- Avoid excessive alcohol or caffeine. Studies have found that caffeine and alcohol can cause hormone imbalance when taken in excessive amounts. 1
- Wear Loose-Fitting Clothes
Especially important for men: wearing tight clothes can block hormone production because tight clothing creates excess heat in the crotch that abolishes existing sperm in the area. The decreased sperm count can easily lead to hormonal imbalance.
- Sleep More
Getting enough sleep plays an important role in the hormone levels. Sleep is especially crucial for men since the male body produces testosterone for the duration of the REM cycle of sleep. 1
- Stress Less
Stress is not just in your head: it is a physical condition which affects your whole body. If you cannot eliminate stress from your life, then you should consider dedicating 30-60 minutes a day doing something relaxing. 1
- Exercise More
In short, many of our health issues boil down to this: most of us live a sedentary lifestyle and do not exercise enough. Exercise can help you solve many health problems and support hormonal balance, too. 1
- Consider Prescription Medications
If none of the above-mentioned tips have worked for you, you should seek professional medical advice. Your GP can prescribe certain pharmaceuticals specifically created to balance your hormones. 1
- Hormone Replacement Therapy/Hormonal Therapy:
There are 2 main types of hormone therapy, including:
- Systematic Hormone Therapy: Medics will prescribe synthetic estrogen in the form of a pill, spray, cream, or skin patch, to relieve symptoms of estrogen deficiency.
- Low-Dose Vaginal Products: GPS could also prescribe hormone therapy in the form of low-dose vaginal products that include rings, tablets, and creams.
Note: specific risks of hormone therapy include a greater risk of breast cancer, blood clots, stroke, and heart disease. 1
Hormonal imbalance is at the root of numerous common ailments, from some skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne to digestive issues like bloating and leaky gut to lack of energy, and sleep problems, like insomnia.
Ultimately, many people suffer from a certain type of hormone imbalance. Though, most hormonal imbalances are quite minor. If you’re having prolonged instances of some of the hormonal imbalance symptoms mentioned above, then you should talk to your GP about possible solutions.
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