How To Spot Hormone Imbalance Symptoms
Monthly changes in estrogen and progesterone are normal for us ladies. These changes help prepare our bodies for pregnancy or prompt our bodies to get rid of our uterine lining if we don’t get pregnant. However, if you feel like your hormones spiral out of control at certain times of the month (or throughout the entire month), you may be dealing with a hormonal imbalance.
Some women think it’s normal to turn into Cruella de Vil for a week or two out of the month, simply because it consistently happens to them. For those of us who feel like slaves to our alternate selves every time Aunt Flo rolls into town, it’s refreshing to discover that mood swings, skin issues, and other signs of premenstrual syndrome don’t need to be expected and can be addressed.
It’s not always easy to tell whether we’re dealing with imbalanced hormones or just the usual discomforts that come with shedding our uterine lining. So here’s a quick guide to hormone imbalance symptoms, causes, and treatments.
Understanding Hormone ImbalancesOur endocrine system (which includes the pancreas, pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal gland, and ovaries) contains glands that produce hormones. These hormones travel to different parts of our body through our bloodstream. They’re bossy little things and like to tell the organs what to do and how to do it.
If you’ve ever seen the kid’s movie Inside Out, you can imagine how your hormones function in your body. Though each character in the movie represents an emotion (such as Sadness, Joy, and Anger), you could almost interchange each emotion with hormones (because, after all, hormones can influence every emotion you feel).
Hormones regulate many of our body’s daily processes, including:Heart rate
Sexual function and reproductive cycles
Metabolism and appetite
Stress levels and mood
When our hormones are properly balanced, they work together very well to help our bodies run efficiently. But when they get out of balance, they make a mess of everything around them and can wreak havoc throughout our bodies.
What Does Hormone Imbalance Mean?The term “hormone imbalance” refers to having too much or too little of a specific hormone in the bloodstream. Even slight imbalances in our hormones can cause very noticeable effects on physical function and mood.
Many hormones can potentially become imbalanced, including growth hormones, adrenaline, insulin, and steroids. But many of us females are impacted by imbalances in our progesterone and estrogen levels. Since these are two of the most important hormones for female reproductive health, it’s important to bring them back into alignment if they’re ever out of whack.
We’ll go over how to deal with hormonal imbalance symptoms in a minute. First, let’s talk more about imbalances and learn how to recognize these symptoms in our bodies.
Major Symptoms of Hormone ImbalanceIf you feel like your mood, energy levels, and regular bodily functions stay pretty consistent throughout the month, your hormones are probably just fine. But if you’re one of the many women who deal with major fluctuations in your mood or periods of intense pain and bloating related to your period, you’re probably experiencing the effects of hormonal imbalance.
Though all women are different, there are some symptoms commonly associated with imbalances of progesterone, estrogen, or other hormones in the female body. These symptoms include:
Changes in blood pressure
Unexplained changes in weight (either weight gain or weight loss) or changes in muscle mass
Skin rashes or very dry, irritated skin
Increased sensitivity to temperature changes
Changes in appetite
Changes in heart rate
Anxiety and irritability
Brittle, thinning hair, or hair loss
Reduced sex drive
More frequent urination
Weak or brittle bones
Deepening of the voice
A bulge in the neck
Chronic fatigue or adrenal fatigue
Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (such as bloating, acne, menstrual cramps, constipation, weight gain, food cravings, irritability, fatigue, and mood swings)
Do you see any of these symptoms in yourself? If so, take comfort in knowing there are many women in the same boat as you. Many of us live with hormonal imbalances that interfere with our daily lives at least part of the time.
Some of us may even start to get used to the constant fatigue we experience and the dysfunctional way our bodies work when our hormones aren’t balanced. But once we discover how good we can feel when our hormones are properly balanced, we’ll never want to go back. And we shouldn’t have to!
Can a Hormone Imbalance Affect Your Menstrual Cycle?Imbalances in estrogen and progesterone can affect your menstrual cycle and cause it to become irregular and sometimes painful. Most menstrual cycles last around 28 days. But if you’re dealing with disruptions in your hormone levels, your period could be longer or shorter than this. You may even skip periods altogether!
Excess EstrogenThe most common hormone imbalance associated with menstrual cycle problems is excess estrogen. When there is too much of this hormone in the body, it can cause symptoms such as tenderness and swelling in the breasts, weight gain, irregular periods, and mood swings.
Excess estrogen is often associated with low levels of progesterone. Low progesterone symptoms include absence or irregularity of the menstrual cycle, low libido, hot flashes, headaches, and depression.
Excess ProgesteroneThough it’s rarer than excess estrogen, it’s also possible to have too much progesterone in the body. Excess progesterone is associated with bloating, depression, anxiety, weight fluctuations, and reduced sex drives. High progesterone levels often occur in conjunction with low estrogen levels.
When To Get Hormone Levels CheckedThere are certain times in a woman’s life when it makes sense to have her hormone levels checked by a doctor. Here are a few of the situations that warrant hormone testing.
InfertilityFor women who can’t seem to get pregnant, no matter how many “tried-and-true” methods they use, it may be a good idea to get checked for hormonal imbalances. When the female sex hormones aren’t present in optimum levels in the bloodstream, it can potentially cause issues with conceiving.
Our bodies need a very precise balance of hormones to help prep our bodies for all the steps involved with becoming pregnant, including releasing an egg at the right time (ovulation), preparing the uterine lining for a fertilized egg, and maintaining a hospitable environment in the uterus for the fetus to grow. If we try to become pregnant while dealing with a hormone imbalance, it’s a little bit like trying to get Loki and Thor to sit down and behave nicely at a dinner party.
Painful PeriodsA lot of women have painful periods each month. Some women may feel the pain primarily in the abdominal area, while others could potentially feel it in the back, breasts, and vaginal canal. For those of us who experience the sometimes debilitating symptoms of PMS, the likely culprit is a hormonal imbalance. For severe symptoms, it may be a good idea to have hormone levels checked.
PregnancySome women with a history of hormonal imbalances may need to have their hormones checked during pregnancy. This is especially true if they’ve ever miscarried in the past or have a history of low progesterone. If you have any questions about whether or not you need to have your hormones checked during pregnancy, talk with your OB/GYN.
Lack of Periods Before MenopauseEvery woman goes through a time in her life when her periods stop (halleluiah!) This is called menopause, and it can be a challenging phase of life for some women, while other women breeze right through it.
Women who lose their periods before menopause may be dealing with a lack of hormonal balance that could impact their ability to become pregnant. This type of situation may warrant hormone testing to identify the cause of the lack of period (or other accompanying symptoms).
If you decide to get your hormone levels tested, it’s best to do it on day 3 or day 21 of your cycle. This is because it’s easier for a doctor to detect hormonal imbalances on these days due to the natural spike of hormones that should occur at these times.
Potential Causes of Hormone ImbalancesIt can be tricky to pinpoint the exact cause of a hormonal imbalance. But here are some of the most common causes (hold on tight, the list is long!)
Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)
Poor nutrition and diet
Diabetes (both type 1 and type 2)
Hypoglycemia (overproduction of insulin)
Hyperglycemia (overproduction of glucagon)
Under- or over-production of the parathyroid hormone
Radiation therapy or chemotherapy
Benign cysts and tumors affecting the endocrine glands
Turner syndrome (females who have just one functioning X chromosome)
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (low cortisol levels)
Abuse of anabolic steroids
Phytoestrogens (plant estrogens that naturally occur in soy products)
Cancers involving the endocrine glands
Exposure to pollutants, toxins, and chemicals known to disrupt endocrine function (such as herbicides and pesticides)
Cushing’s syndrome (high cortisol levels)
Severe infections or allergic reactions
Solitary thyroid nodules
Injury to the endocrine gland
Are you surprised by the last item on the list? It may seem counterintuitive that hormone replacement therapy could lead to hormonal imbalances. However, HRT has been linked to various health risks, such as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and a stroke.
While some doctors agree that HRT is safe for the short term, it’s not recommended for the long term. Fortunately, there are safer ways to bring your hormones into balance than pumping your body full of synthetic estrogen. Let’s talk about them, shall we?
Hormone Imbalance Treatment OptionsSo what happens next if you discover you have a problem with your hormones? Is there anything you can do to balance them? Of course there is! The great thing about the human body is that it gives us warning signs when something is wrong. It does this so we can take action to fix the underlying problem.
We’ve already mentioned HRT, which involves taking synthetic hormones to help replace the hormones your body loses during menopause. This treatment is specifically intended to help women during and after menopause, so it’s not typically recommended for younger women dealing with hormone imbalance symptoms.
Even for women who have reached menopause, HRT is associated with some pretty significant risks (which we mentioned above). Some women take it anyway because they don’t think they have any other viable ways to balance their hormones.
The excellent news is that there are natural ways to balance the hormones without increasing your risk of cancer, heart disease, or other dangerous health conditions. Here are a few lifestyle changes to help balance your hormones without putting your life at risk.
Eat a healthy diet. It sounds simplistic, but eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can help balance your hormones naturally. It’s especially important to consume healthy fats (such as those found in pure MCT oil, coconut oil, and fatty fish) and soluble fiber (found in apples, dried beans, citrus fruits, potatoes, strawberries, and oats). We should also eat plenty of green vegetables and lean proteins to keep our hormone levels in check.
Lose weight. Many women experience hormone imbalance symptoms when they gain too much weight. Research shows that reducing body weight by 10% may help bring hormones into balance and improve the regularity of menstrual periods.
Exercise regularly. Getting out for a walk or hitting the gym every day may help regulate hormones. According to one study, even short periods of exercise are better than nothing and can help keep certain hormones well balanced.
Avoid sugary, processed foods. Did you know that eating too much sugar can impact the production of the hormone insulin? It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of sugar we eat, either. Most types cause a similar insulin response and should be avoided if we want to maintain hormone balance in our bodies.
Show stress the door. So many of us ladies deal with excess stress levels. This is terrible for our overall health and can cause our hormones to go haywire. If you have any doubt about how detrimental stress can be to your health, check out this 2017 study which shows a solid link between stress and the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. We don’t want these two hormones to spike because when they’re out of balance, we’re more likely to experience mood changes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems.
Quit smoking. We already know smoking is bad for our health, right ladies? But some of us may not realize that our frequent smoke breaks may also be altering our pituitary, thyroid hormone, and steroid hormones. Add that to your long list of reasons to quit smoking today. You can do it, girl!
Go easy on dairy products. Many people love dairy products (ice cream, anyone?), but for those of us who may be dealing with hormonal imbalances, dairy could be our kryptonite. Though further research is needed, there appears to be a link between certain dairy products (such as yogurt and cream) and reproductive hormone levels. So if you’re actively trying to grow your family, but you’re struggling with fertility issues, you may want to cut out most dairy products temporarily.
Take Vitamin B12. You may know that vitamin B12 is important for the proper function of your blood cells, nerves, and brain, but did you know it may help balance your hormones too? There is mounting evidence to connect hormone imbalance symptoms with a vitamin B12 deficiency. So if you want to get your hormones in line, consider taking a multivitamin that contains Vitamin B12, such as Hermulti.
Supplement with herbs. Mother Nature is pretty brilliant. She’s the ultimate provider of safe and natural ingredients for the female body. Supplements such as Hertime Daily are ideal for women with hormone imbalance symptoms because they contain ingredients known to assist with optimal hormone production and regulation.
To give you a little more detail about Hertime Daily, it’s a supplement specifically formulated for women dealing with unpleasant symptoms of hormone imbalance. You’ll find dong quai, white peony root, Siberian ginseng, and Chinese licorice in this delicious formula.
These ingredients work together to help minimize menstrual pain, enhance progesterone production, balance sex hormones and boost energy. Many women experience an improvement in their menstrual symptoms after drinking this delicious hormone-balancing product every day for at least 30 days. If you’re tired of feeling off-balance, give this carefully crafted formula a try for a few weeks and see how your body responds.
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