What Causes Hormone Imbalance (And How Can You Fix It)? If you’re experiencing changes in your mood, sleep patterns, or sex life, you might have a hormone imbalance. Hormone imbalance in women is fairly common and in a recent study of 2,000 women, roughly half of them had symptoms of a hormone imbalance and 72 percent didn’t know their symptoms could be related to a hormonal imbalance.
Read on for a deep dive on how to identify a hormone imbalance and how to fix it.
What is Hormone Imbalance?
Every human being has hormones that play a key role in regulating the body’s ability to eat, sleep, grow, and reproduce. Hormones travel through your bloodstream to provide information to your cells and tissues. They’re important because they dictate how your organs function.
All men and women have some form of estrogen, progesterone, androgens, and testosterone in their bodies. These are crucial for reproductive health. Other commonly known hormones include melatonin, adrenaline, and serotonin. These are responsible for aiding in sleep, controlling your fight or flight response, and improving your mood respectively.
A hormone imbalance occurs when your hormones levels shift. For women, a normal shift in her reproductive hormones occurs during her menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause. Abnormal hormone imbalances can happen due to medications like birth control or underlying health issues.
Hormone Imbalance Symptoms
While the symptoms differ for each type of hormone imbalance, a few key indicators are important to know for the most common types of hormone imbalance.
Specifically for women, the following symptoms could be an indicator of a hormone imbalance.
Changes in Sleep
Progesterone is released by your ovaries and helps your body sleep. Low levels of progesterone can make it hard for you to fall asleep or stay asleep. Hot flashes and night sweats are often caused by estrogen releases and can interrupt sleep.
Changes in Weight
Since hormones play a role in appetite, weight loss or gain could be indicators that your hormones are out of balance.
Mental Health Changes
Estrogen has a unique role in influencing crucial hormones like serotonin and dopamine, which both have an impact on your mood. If you feel depressed, anxious, nervous, or like your mood changes quickly, it could be due to your hormones.
Other Physical Symptoms
Many other changes in your body can be linked to hormone imbalances in women.
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
Endocrine glands are cells where hormones come from. In everybody, endocrine glands are located in a few key areas to regulate organ function. An issue in how endocrine glands function could be a reason for a hormonal imbalance, along with some few medical conditions that are known to cause hormonal imbalances in women specifically.
Stress can present itself in a few unlikely forms and in turn deeply affect a woman’s hormones. Too much cardio exercise, too much caffeine or alcohol, and too much stimulation on screens can all read as stress to your body. Exposure to pollutants, toxins, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals like pesticides can also impact your hormones.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects one in 10 women. In PCOS, a hormonal imbalance causes the ovaries to not release eggs each month as apart of a normal cycle. PCOS can lead to ovarian cysts and infertility.
Signs of PCOS include irregular periods, excess hair, intense hormonal acne, and changes in weight. PCOS can be managed with help from your doctor and lifestyle alterations.
Other Causes for Hormonal Imbalance
Many alternative factors can cause hormonal imbalance in women including:
- Underactive or overreactive thyroid
- Hyper or Hypoglycemia-which relates to blood sugar levels
- Cushing’s Syndrome-high levels of cortisol
- Addison’s Disease-low levels of cortisol
- Tumors and cysts
- Poor diet and nutrition
What Can I Do?
If any of these symptoms seem relevant to you, it’s important that you speak with your doctor to create a plan and get a hormonal imbalance test. These tests are simple and just require blood and urine samples. Your doctor may also do a pelvic exam or further imaging to decipher the root cause of your symptoms.
It’s crucial to have a good relationship with your primary care physician and OBGYN. Make sure you have a doctor who you can be open with and share personal health goals and concerns. Hormones in women are particularly delicate and require the attention of compassionate professionals.
There are a few treatment options available, depending on the cause of your imbalance. Be sure to discuss all options with a healthcare professional before proceeding on any particular treatment path.
Hormone control can be achieved through hormonal birth control like the pill, certain IUDs, patches, or ring. In some cases, the direct application of estrogen to the vagina can subside issues associated with hormonal imbalances.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
This treatment uses hormones created from plants that are identical to the ones found in your body. There are a number of benefits to this treatment and these hormones complement those in your body as you age.
Supplements and Natural Remedies
Before turning to these methods, be sure to address the underlying cause of your hormonal imbalance with your doctor. Once approved, supplements can be a fantastic way to reduce symptoms associated with hormonal imbalances and improve quality of life.
Eating a whole-foods focused diet and exercising regularly can reduce the likelihood of symptoms. Paying more attention to your environmental exposures to toxic materials and pesticides can also help reduce your chances of hormonal issues.
Whether or not you’re experiencing symptoms of a hormone imbalance, take notes on your mood, overall wellbeing, and health during the next few months with special attention around your menstrual cycles. This can serve as a baseline for your health and give you some data to refer to.
Make sure to have a good doctor by your side who you trust and on your own time, stay informed on issues of women’s health.
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