The Key Signs of Hormone Imbalance

Are you noticing signs of change but not sure what’s behind them? Check this list to see if they are hormone related.


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, or at menopause and even beyond it.

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 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).

2. Sleep problems

If you aren’t getting enough, or if the sleep you get isn’t good, your hormones could be at play.

Progesterone, a hormone released by your ovaries, helps you sleep as it is a natural relaxant. So if your levels are lower than usual, that can make it hard to fall and stay asleep.

Low oestrogen can trigger night sweats and that can make it tough to get the rest you need.

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 and is not restricted to younger women.

An excess of androgens (“male” hormones that both men and women have) can cause your oil glands to overwork.

Androgens also affect the skin cells in and around your hair follicles. Both of those things can clog your pores and cause acne.

4. Brain fog

Experts aren’t sure exactly how hormones impact your brain but what they do know is that changes in oestrogen and progesterone can make your head feel “foggy” and make it harder for you to remember things.

Some experts think hormones 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, so always let your doctor know if you’re having trouble thinking clearly.

5. Stomach problems

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 out of balance.

6. Ongoing fatigue

Are you tired all the time? Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a hormone imbalance.

So if your thyroid — the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck — makes too little thyroid hormone, it can sap your energy.

A simple blood test called a thyroid panel can tell you if your levels are too low.

If you are also low in progesterone that can make it worse as that is the hormone that supports thyroid function.

7. Mood swings and depression

Feeling low or anxious is something that everyone can experience from time to time, but it may be related to levels of dopamine, and norepinephrine.

But other hormones, that travel the same paths as neurotransmitters, also play a part in how you feel.

Dr Jeffrey Dach, a bioidentical expert from the USA, recommends that a combination of both oestrogen and progesterone can be helpful for both mood swings and depression.

8. Appetite and weight gain

When you’re feeling blue or irritated, as you can be when your hormones levels dip, you may want to eat more.

That can be why drops in your hormones can be linked to weight gain.

9. Headaches

Lots of things can trigger these, but for some women changing levels of oestrogen bring them on.

That’s why it’s common for headaches to strike right before or during your period, when oestrogen is on the decline.

Regular headaches, or ones that often surface around the same time each month, can be a clue that your levels of this hormone might be shifting.

10. Vaginal dryness

It’s normal to have this occasionally, but if you often notice that you’re dry or irritated down there, low oestrogen may be the reason.

This is the hormone helps vaginal tissue stay moist and comfortable. If your oestrogen drops because of an imbalance, it can reduce vaginal fluids and cause tightness.

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.

However, in women it is progesterone that is a precursor for testosterone so having low levels of progesterone can affect libido and sex drive so it can be helped by supplementing this hormone.

12. Breast changes

A drop in oestrogen can make your breast tissue less dense. And an increase in it can thicken this tissue, even causing new lumps or cysts.

Always report any changes to your doctor, even if you don’t have any other symptoms that concern you.

Helpful information 

You can see from the list of potential effects, that not having good hormone balance will impact your health.

If you are not sure whether you need to supplement either oestrogen or progesterone, or both, then this article can help.