12 Ways To Tell If You Have A Hormone Imbalance
Keeping hormones in balance is the best way to stay naturally healthy, but do you know the signs to look out for?
Feeling bloated, irritable, or just not your best? A hormone imbalance could be to blame. Hormones are chemical “messengers” that impact the way your cells and organs function.
It’s normal for your levels to shift at different times of your life, such as before and during your period or a pregnancy and during menopause.
But some medications and health issues can cause them to go up or down, too.
1. Irregular periods
Most women’s periods come every 21 to 35 days. If yours doesn’t arrive around the same time every month, or you skip some months, it might mean that you have too much or too little of either oestrogen or progesterone.
If you’re in your 40s or early 50s then the reason can be perimenopause when fluctuating hormones can see you having skipped periods, or heavier bleeding.
Irregular periods can be a symptom of health problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) so see your doctor to get to the reason behind this.
2. Sleep problems
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, or if the sleep you get isn’t good, your hormones could be at play.
Progesterone helps your sleep as it is a relaxant. If your levels are lower than usual, that can make it hard to fall and stay asleep.
3. Chronic Acne
A breakout before or during your period is normal. But acne that won’t clear up can be a symptom of hormone problems.
An excess of androgens (“male” hormones that both men and women have) can cause your oil glands to overwork and that affects the skin cells in and around your hair follicles.
Both of those things can clog your pores and cause acne and many women see an increase in androgens during menopause.
4. Memory fog
Experts aren’t sure exactly how hormones impact your brain. What they do know is that changes can make your head feel “foggy” and make it harder for you to remember things.
Some experts think estrogen might impact brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Attention and memory problems are especially common during perimenopause and menopause. But they can also be a symptom of other hormone-related conditions, like thyroid disease. Let your doctor know if you’re having trouble thinking clearly.
5. Stomach issues
For once this is not about the fat that can get deposited on your stomach with hormone imbalance, but more about what is going on inside.
Your gut is lined with tiny cells called receptors that respond to oestrogen and progesterone. When these hormones are higher or lower than usual, you might notice changes in how you’re digesting food.
That’s why diarrhoea, stomach pain, bloating, and nausea can crop up or get worse before and during your period. If you’re having digestive woes as well as issues like acne and fatigue, your hormone levels might be off so check for signs of oestrogen dominance.
6. Ongoing fatigue
Are you tired all the time? Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a hormone imbalance.
If your thyroid makes too little thyroid hormone, it can sap your energy and this is a condition diagnosed very frequently in women at menopause.
A simple blood test from your doctor can tell you if your levels are too low and you can help yourself by checking you have sufficient progesterone.
7. Mood swings and depression
Researchers think drops in hormones or fast changes in their levels can cause moodiness and the blues. It is certainly seen in women post birth when the progesterone levels plummet and the ‘baby blues’ can be experienced.
Progesterone certainly can help with mood swings, but if they are severe or you are depressed, then a combination of oestrogen and progesterone can be more effective.
8. Appetite and weight gain
When you’re feeling blue or irritated then as a ‘home cure’ you may want to eat more. That might be why drops in the hormones are linked to weight gain as well as the fact that when the ovaries production of oestrogen starts to fall the body switches production into the fat cells.
Unfortunately it deposits them on the stomach, abdomen and thighs – as many women are well aware. If you are oestrogen dominant then getting hormones balanced will help.
Lots of things can trigger these but the hormone changes that happen as women approach the menopause mean that all types of headache, including migraines, become more common.
For some women, drops in oestrogen bring them on and if you are getting regular headaches – or ones that often surface around the same time each month – then that is a clue that your hormone levels might be shifting.
10. Vaginal dryness
It’s normal to have this occasionally, but if it is ongoing with dryness or irritation then you may be low in oestrogen.
This is the hormone that helps vaginal tissue stay moist and comfortable and you can still be low in oestrogen if your progesterone levels are lower still.
Vaginal dryness can be helped with bioidentical combination cream but if you have vaginal atrophy then that will need a separate source of oestrogen from your doctor.
11. Loss of libido
Most people think of testosterone as a male hormone, but women’s bodies make it, too. If your testosterone levels are lower than usual, you might have less of an interest in sex than you usually do.
12. Breast changes
A drop in oestrogen can make your breast tissue less dense and an increase in the hormone can thicken this tissue, even causing new lumps or cysts.
Talk to your doctor if you notice breast changes, even if you don’t have any other symptoms that concern you, and women with a risk or history of breast cancer can often be helped by bioidentical progesterone.