Do You Have A Hormone Imbalance?
There are several signs that your hormones may be unbalanced, and some of them may not be what you would expect.
Feeling bloated, irritable, or just not your best is often a good description of peri/menopause and 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, or during menopause.
But some medications and health issues can cause them to go up or down, too so check if any of these relate to you.
Appetite and weight Gain
The phrase ‘comfort eating’ was coined for a reason, because when we are anxious or upset we look to suppress or stuff down our feelings and unfortunately the foods that do that are also those most likely to put weight on us.
When you’re feeling blue or irritated when hormone levels are fluctuating then you may want to eat more so it’s important to keep an eye on your hormone balance.
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 certain hormones (oestrogen and progesterone).
If you’re in your 40s or early 50s — the reason can be perimenopause — the time before menopause. But irregular periods can also be a symptom of health problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) so check with your doctor.
If you aren’t getting enough, or if the sleep you get isn’t good, your hormones could be the reason.
Progesterone, a hormone released by your ovaries, helps you relax and sleep. If your levels are lower than usual, which occurs at peri/menopause, then that can make it hard to fall and stay asleep.
A breakout before or during your period is normal but acne that won’t clear up can be a symptom of hormone problems and certainly it is not confined to your adolescence as many menopausal women also get breakouts.
An excess of androgens (“male” hormones that both men and women have) can cause your oil glands to overwork. They also affect the skin cells in and around your hair follicles and both of those things can clog your pores and cause acne.
Experts aren’t sure exactly how hormones impact your brain but they do know that changes in oestrogen and progesterone can make your head feel “foggy” and make it harder for you to remember things.
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 so if this happening often then see your doctor to get it checked.
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 and during menopause.
Are you tired all the time? Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a hormone imbalance.
One reason can be if your thyroid — the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck — makes too little thyroid hormone, it can sap your energy.
Ask your doctor for a simple blood test which can tell you if your levels are too low.
Mood swings and depression
Researchers think drops in hormones or fast changes in their levels can cause moodiness and the blues.
Oestrogen affects key brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine but other hormones, that travel the same paths as neurotransmitters, also play a part in how you feel.
What may be effective is a combination cream with both oestrogen and progesterone.
Lots of things can trigger these, but for some women, drops in oestrogen bring them on – particularly if it just before your period.
Regular headaches, whatever your age, can be a clue that your hormone levels of this hormone might be shifting but if they are frequent please see your doctor.
It’s normal to have this occasionally. But if you often notice that you’re dry or irritated more frequently then it will be because your oestrogen levels are low.
This hormone helps vaginal tissue stay moist and comfortable so if the level drops too far then it can reduce vaginal fluids and cause tightness.
If this does continue and is painful then check with your doctor that you do not have vaginal atrophy or thinning, rather than just dryness.
Loss of libido
There can be many reasons for this, some physical but also emotional ones too so don’t discount the effects stress or relationship difficulties.
Most people think of testosterone as a male hormone, but women’s bodies make it too and low levels can be linked to low libido. If that’s the reason then supplementing with bioidentical progesterone can help as it is a precursor for testosterone in women.
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.
If you have unopposed oestrogen this can pose a number of health risks to always talk to your doctor if you notice breast changes, even if you don’t have any other symptoms that concern you.