Signs of hormonal imbalance can be unbearable, and this is because hormonal imbalance can negatively affect all aspects of your life, from your sleep schedule to your physical appearance and how you feel about yourself.
This health problem can be caused by a number of factors, some of which you can control and others that are entirely out of your hands.
Understanding the causes, consequences, and signs of hormonal imbalance can help you address it head-on and maintain optimal wellness throughout your life.
Continue reading to learn more about hormonal imbalance, its causes, its symptoms, and the best ways to treat it effectively and naturally.
What Is Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormonal imbalance, or hormonal dysregulation, is any condition in which your body’s hormones are not balanced in the way they should be (this can mean having too much or too little of a certain hormone). This can lead to many side effects, from minor inconveniences to life-threatening conditions.
Hormones are chemical messengers that are released by the body and travel to various parts of the body to control different activities. There are many different hormones, and each one has a specific function. For example, testosterone is responsible for male sexual development and growth, while estrogen is responsible for female sexual development and growth.
Hormones are also responsible for maintaining blood pressure, regulating blood sugar levels, controlling your sleep and wake cycle, metabolism, and generally maintaining normal homeostasis in the body.
All hormones are essential for health, but others have harmful effects if uncontrolled.
Signs Of Hormonal Imbalance
There are many signs that indicate that someone may have a hormonal imbalance. If you are experiencing any of them, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any other potential causes. Once the cause of the imbalance has been identified, you can start treatment. Some of the most common signs include:
1. Uncontrolled appetite and weight gain
With many people struggling with weight gain and obesity, research shows that hormonal imbalance has a bigger role to play. This is because a disruption in certain hormones may affect your metabolism and your hunger and satiety signals, causing weight gain.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. It’s responsible for various functions, including transporting blood sugar from the blood into the cells to be used for energy.
However, if someone is resistant to insulin, it won’t be able to deliver the sugar. So it will resort to a different function of converting and storing the excess blood sugar as fat to ensure a glucose balance in the bloodstream.
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands (on top of your kidneys). Its main function is to regulate your body’s response to stressful situations.
In some ways, it’s like a warning signal for your body when you need to take action and fight off the threat. But besides that, this hormone has been shown to promote weight gain because it disrupts your satiety and hunger hormones, causing you to overeat.
That’s why most people with chronically sustained high-stress levels tend to weigh more.
Oestrogens, androgens, and growth hormones have also been shown to influence appetite, body fat distribution, and metabolism.
2. Sleep disturbances
Sleep is an essential part of a healthy body and mind. While hormonal imbalance may cause sleep disturbances, a lack of sleep may also play a role in hormonal disturbances.
So, if you’re not getting enough sleep, your body will go through hormonal changes that can lead to sleep disturbances later on. These disturbances can include trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up early in the morning. This is mostly because a lack of sleep disrupts the function of melatonin, which is a hormone responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle.
Other hormonal sleep disturbances may be gender specific and only for a given period of time.
For instance, in the days before ovulation and during periods, most women experience some sleep disturbances like difficulty falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night, which usually resolves after a few days.
3. Digestive issues
Many hormonal imbalances can cause digestive issues. One of the most common is an imbalance in estrogen levels. This imbalance can lead to increased gas and bloating inability to digest food properly, and constipation.
Research shows that an estrogen imbalance may even trigger IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) symptoms.
This is because estrogen controls intestinal smooth muscle contraction and relaxation, which may affect how quickly or slowly food passes through the intestines.
Studies show that low doses of estrogen and progesterone can prolong bowel emptying than when high doses are administered. This is probably why low levels of sex hormones have been associated with constipation. This is also why constipation is common in menopause, where a decline in sexual hormones is inevitable.
4. Irritability and mood swings
It’s not uncommon for those with hormonal imbalances to experience feelings of anger, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
Indeed, when our hormone levels fluctuate significantly from their optimal level, or there is an overproduction of one hormone versus another, it can cause the body’s systems to be thrown off balance.
These physical and emotional symptoms can significantly impact your quality of life, including your relationships and work.
So if you’re feeling irritable and having angry or depressed episodes for no reason, it could be a sign that you have some hormonal issues.
5. Low sex drive
A low sex drive may be the result of a hormone imbalance. If you notice that you feel tired, anxious, moody, or have less desire for sex, then chances are your hormone levels might be in need of an adjustment.
To help determine if these symptoms stem from hormonal changes or something else entirely, schedule an appointment with a primary care physician to see what the underlying cause is.
If you’re struggling with acne, chances are it’s a hormonal issue. Hormonal imbalance can cause the oil glands in your skin to produce more oil than normal. This oil clogs the pores on your skin, which leads to acne.
This is especially common when hormones like testosterone are high. Research shows that high testosterone levels overproduce sebum, which accumulates around your hair follicles leading to acne.
That being said, acne can also be as a result of other factors including an unhealthy gut and food sensitivities. So ensure you rule out all the possible causes.
7. Food cravings
Craving the wrong foods can often indicate an imbalance in certain hormones, such as low levels of estrogen, which causes your progesterone hormone to increase. Low estrogen with increased progesterone creates a craving for high-calorie or sweet foods.
Research shows that women tend to feel hungrier and crave carbohydrates, fat-rich, and sweet foods just before their periods when progesterone hormone is at its peak. Plus, if a person is in a low mood during this period, they tend to eat more as a way of seeking comfort.
Increased progesterone is also associated with increased insulin production and resistance, causing weight gain, among other issues.
8. Chronic fatigue
You may have thought you were exhausted because of all the time and energy you’re pouring into your career or family, but a hormonal imbalance could be the cause. Exhaustion is the women’s most common symptom associated with hormonal imbalance. So if you’re experiencing tiredness that doesn’t go away with rest or medication, you could be dealing with a hormonal imbalance
Common Hormonal Imbalance Causes
The most common cause of hormonal imbalance is poor diet. Inadequate or imbalanced levels of nutrients can disrupt natural hormone production, leading to symptoms such as acne, PMS (premenstrual syndrome), depression, fatigue, insomnia, weight gain or loss, menstrual irregularity, or menstrual cramps.
Eating a balanced diet with a variety of whole grains that includes complex carbohydrates like brown rice or organic quinoa is crucial for optimal hormone balance.
Stress is a common factor in many hormonal imbalances. When stress is chronic, it can cause your body to release hormones in an uncontrolled way. This can lead to a variety of problems, including weight gain, mood swings, and acne. To prevent these effects, try to reduce your stress levels as much as possible. You can do this by practicing relaxation techniques, limiting your exposure to stressful situations, and eating a balanced diet.
Lack of sleep
If you aren’t getting a good night’s sleep, this can throw off your natural circadian rhythm. Disrupted circadian rhythms have been linked to an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, depression, cancer, obesity, and cognitive impairment.
Sleep deprivation can also trigger hormones like cortisol (a stress hormone) that increase cravings for unhealthy foods. Get the right amount of sleep by using a blue light-blocking screen on your phone during the evening hours, eating a healthy diet, creating a dark restful environment, limiting datytime naps, managing worries, and sticking to a bedtime routine.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or hyperandrogenism
One of the most common issues leading to hormonal imbalances is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of hormonal imbalance and infertility in women. In the US alone, PCOS affects approximately 5 million women (6-12 percent) of their reproductive age.
Women with PCOS have higher insulin and androgens (a group of male hormones) levels, among other hormones.
They can experience acne, excessive hair growth, weight gain, irregular periods, or they may not get their period at all. It also affects their fertility as well as sexual desire.
The treatment of PCOS is often hormone therapy and lifestyle changes. Diet changes are key because women with PCOS are more likely to be overweight or obese due to an excess of male hormones, which promotes fat storage.
Birth control pills
Many people use birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. But birth control pills can also cause a hormonal imbalance. This is because they contain hormones that can cause a disruption to the natural hormones in the body and lead to a host of other problems.
Some of the issues that can result from hormonal imbalance include weight gain, mood swings, acne, and an increased risk for breast cancer. To avoid these problems, it’s important to use a nonhormonal birth control plan.
Obesity affects not only the risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, cancers, hypertension, and inflammation; but also hormone-driven health problems such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), menstrual cycle disorders, hirsutism (excessive hair growth), and acne.
Hormones influence every organ in your body, so when they are out of balance, it can lead to various symptoms that can disrupt your normal body function. So working on losing weight could greatly help improve hormonal imbalance.
Smoking, drinking alcohol, and drugs
Smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking drugs such as cocaine can all cause hormone levels to change. To help maintain hormonal balance and improve symptoms, reduce or stop smoking, alcohol consumption, or drug use. Not only will this help keep hormones in check, but it will also have the added benefit of improving your overall health and well-being.
If you have thyroid issues, your body will experience a hormonal imbalance. This can cause a number of problems, including weight gain, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping. Thyroid issues can also cause a decrease in brain function and energy. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor determine the root cause.
Menopause is a natural process that happens when a woman’s ovaries stop producing eggs. This can happen anywhere from the early 40s to the late 50s.
A common symptom of menopause is a decline in estrogen levels. When estrogen falls, other hormones may also be affected, leading to irritability, depression, hot flashes, and other symptoms.
Most of these symptoms can be eased by hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or certain diets.
There are a number of symptoms that can be indicative of hormonal imbalance. Some of the most common symptoms include irregular or absent menstrual cycles, extreme mood swings, weight gain without any reason, lack of energy, digestive issues, sleep disturbances, acne, and food cravings.
If you are feeling any of these symptoms, it’s important to take the necessary steps to correct your imbalance, including getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, managing stress levels, and limiting alcohol, smoking, and other drug use.
If your symptoms persist even after these natural interventions, you may need to speak to your doctor, who will be able to diagnose your hormonal imbalance and recommend the best course of action.
Other Related Articles
- Foods Low In Estrogen
- Foods That Lower Cortisol
- How To Boost Metabolism Naturally
- How To Boost Your Immune System
- Signs You May Have A Bad Liver
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