Signs of a Hormonal Imbalance in Women
Thinking about your hormones may bring up unwanted trauma from your high school years, but what if you heard that hormones go well beyond your teenage years? Yes, hormones are much more than awkward glitches from your developing years but instead play a major role in how your body functions throughout your entire life. Hormones can affect the way you feel, sleep, eat, and so much more. Because of this, being aware of any hormonal imbalance is key in understanding your body inside and out.
What Is a Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormones are chemical messengers sent throughout your body to regulate physiology and behavior. When these hormones are not balanced, it essentially means your body is producing too much or too little of a hormone. (1) This can lead to noticeable responses in your body both internally and externally. Hormones can determine anything from general moodiness to major physical changes such as weight gain or loss. Hormonal imbalances can also be dormant in your body and be triggered at any time, even past your developing teenage years.
For making your body feel so unnatural, hormonal imbalances in women are a very natural bodily response. Menstrual cycles, ovaries, weight, skin, hair… They are all controlled by our pesky hormones. When they are regulated and functioning properly, hormones can make you feel great and put together. But when you are experiencing a hormonal imbalance of any magnitude, it sometimes feels like the world is ending all around you. As we dive deeper into the knowledge of a hormonal imbalance, it is important to remember that how your body may feel is valid and there is a solution for you.
Why Are They More Common for Women?
Hormones typically control metabolic and reproductive functions within the body. These functions are usually more active or irregular in female bodies. Of course, despite all the hardships women face, we have to add a high probability of a hormonal imbalance to the list. The female reproductive system is essentially a floodgate for hormones. Our menstrual cycle alone can control our fertility, weight, acne, mood, and more.
If you are experiencing irregular periods, this can (and likely will) lead to irregularity in all the areas just listed. This is because our hormones are calling the shots and when they are not aligned with our menstruation, everything tends to crumble. Although men can also experience a hormonal imbalance, it is typically centered around just their testosterone/estrogen levels. Testosterone/estrogen levels in women are just one element in how we can be hormonally imbalanced.
What Are Signs of a Hormonal Imbalance?
The following are signs of a hormonal imbalance in women:
- Increased food sensitivities
- Feeling lethargic
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Hair loss
These symptoms or signs of a hormonal imbalance are unique to each person. Not all with hormonal imbalances will experience all (or even half) of these symptoms. Just one of these symptoms alone can mean you could be experiencing a hormonal imbalance however, these signs are not a direct result of a hormonal imbalance. Talking to your doctor about any or multiple of these signs can be helpful when understanding noticeable changes in your body.
One example of how your body can react to a hormonal imbalance is through PCOS. PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, is a common result of a hormonal imbalance in women. (2) Although the surface level diagnosis of PCOS can be through an ultrasound of one's ovaries to find developed cysts, this disorder can also be diagnosed from many symptoms. The most common developments from PCOS include inconsistent menstrual cycles, excess male hormones, and an irregularity of egg release. This irregularity of egg release can lead to struggles when trying to get pregnant so it is best to identify your PCOS diagnosis as early as possible.
How to Treat a Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormonal imbalances are often unavoidable but there are certain things to avoid worsening symptoms or activating imbalances. Processed sugar, dairy, and gluten, when intake isn’t monitored, can all heighten symptoms of hormonal imbalances. Cutting food with these qualities out can help regulate your hormones and control symptoms. Moderate exercise is also another way to regulate hormones.
Exercises that regulate, such as yoga, can be a great way to improve results against hormonal symptoms. Another way to regulate your hormones is through birth control pills. Hormonal birth control can help regulate your menstrual cycle, aid in unwanted hair growth, and improve hormone-induced acne. All of these treatments used together can be most beneficial when looking for the most effective results.
If your hormonal imbalance symptoms come in the form of hormonal acne, you may find acne on your face, chest, upper back, and shoulders. Accutane, other acne medicine, or birth control can all be effective for hormonal acne but again, it is best to assess that with a dermatologist. Ask your dermatologist about hormonal testing if you feel you are experiencing these symptoms.
Find Your Balance
Being in tune with your body and its functions is the best way to assess if you may be experiencing a hormonal imbalance. If you feel you are noticing any of these signs, it is best to consult with a doctor or medical professional regarding your symptoms. It is important to remember that your body changes and that noticing these signs is valid and best helped when not dismissed. Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance may all seem minor, but if not controlled can slowly creep up on how you function even on a day-to-day basis. Monitoring your health is key to living your best life and that can start with finding balance in your hormones.
Written by Daniela Rodriguez