Ladies, we all know those moments when we feel angry, frustrated and emotional, sometimes for no apparent reason. Often we blame this on our hormones. And that’s not just a lame excuse, no matter what your partner says. Hormones, do in fact, play a very important role in women’s health and well being. When hormone levels fluctuate, this can impact on your mood, sexual desire, fertility and ovulation.
What causes a hormonal imbalance?
Hormone problems are common, so if you feel that you are experiencing a hormonal imbalance, then you are not alone. There are certain causes which can throw off your body’s natural chemistry. Common culprits are menopause, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, the contraceptive pill, and lifestyle factors such as inconsistent sleep patterns, stress a poor diet and lack of exercise. Other causes can be thyroid issues or diabetes.
Common signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance
1. Sleep Disorders
Many women find it hard to fall asleep mainly just before their period. This may be due to the sharp drop in the hormone progesterone just before menstruation. Progesterone levels also drop after giving birth, but then you can always blame your baby for not getting enough sleep. Progesterone has relaxing properties, so when its levels drop, It can make you feel restless cause you sleep disorders.
2. Persistent Acne
A lot of women breakout before their period, due to hormonal shifts. However, if you suffer from deep, cystic acne all the time, then it could be androgens (male hormones such as testosterone) which are the culprit. Testosterone stimulates excess production of sebum (oil), which then gets trapped underneath the skin and merges with acne-causing bacteria and dead skin cells. That leads to clogged pores, pimples, and blemishes. The higher a woman’s testosterone levels, the worse the breakout.
3. Memory Fog
Are you forgetting things? Such as where you put your purse, or what time you’re meant to meet your friend? If so, then this could be a hormonal issue. If you’ve been experiencing a high amount of stress recently, then your body will be producing high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Studies suggest that consistently high levels of cortisol can hamper your learning ability and memory.
4. Constant Hunger
In the words of Gym Class Heroes, can you not keep your hands out the cookie jar? If so, then stop telling yourself you’re a pig. Yes is it important to eat healthily and exercise, however, it may be because of your hormones that you are so ravenous. Are you getting enough sleep? In one study, volunteers who were deprived of sleep saw their levels of the hormone ghrelin soar — making them extremely hungry — while their levels of leptin hormone plummeted. You see, the hormone ghrelin stimulates appetite, and leptin and oxyntomodulin, suppresses it. This indicates why people who are chronically sleep-deprived (getting less than seven hours a night) tend to be more overweight than those who get more sleep.
5. Digestive Problems
The stress hormones affects us in different ways. Some may carry stress in their head, and get tension headaches, some may just feel cranky and want to curl up on the sofa with a box of chocolates. However, some people carry stress in their stomach. Cortisol production is naturally high in the early morning to help you wake up. However, people who chronically stress their adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol alter their cortisol concentrations so that cortisol is low in the morning when they wake up instead of high. Also if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), then it could be due to abnormal levels of serotonin. 90% of sufferers are women, some whose IBS symptoms flare up around menstruation. The flux of estrogen and progesterone may also play a role.
6. Constant Fatigue
We all have days when we’re so tired that we’re desperate for a nap. However, if you feel exhausted every day, then you could be suffering from a lack of a thyroid hormone, a condition called hypothyroidism. It is more likely you have this condition if you have gained 10-20 pounds which you cannot shift, even through diet and exercise. Thyroid hormones control the body’s metabolism, and when the hormone levels are low, all systems slow down, including heart rate, mental functioning, and digestion. Hence why hypothyroidism can make a person feel exhausted, mentally foggy, and even constipated. If you are suffering from hypothyroidism, then you are not alone as it is thought to affect at least 15 million adults nationwide.
7. Mood Swings and Depression
Most ‘midlife’ women experience mood swings and feel anxious in situations that they used to handle calmly before. This is likely due to a hormone imbalance, which could be linked to the menopause.
8. Weight Gain
As women age, they tend to believe that putting weight on is inevitable. Hence why the phrase, ‘middle-aged spread’ exists. But there might be an underlying problem to such weight gain. The problem could be your adrenal system becoming fatigued and then signaling your thyroid that there is a problem. Your thyroid then responds by slowing down your metabolism. Then the pancreas also responds to the signal by thinking it needs to conserve fat, and concentrates on storing fat in your mid-section, on your back and other places that are not suited to your particular body type.
9. Headaches & Migraines
As women enter middle age, they often find they suffer from frequent headaches and even migraines. This could be due to hormonal imbalances around certain times of the menstrual cycle. If you are suffering from headaches and migraines, then it can be helpful to keep a diary of when they occur. This way you can work out if they occur randomly or if they seem to follow certain triggers.
10. Hot Flashes & Night Sweats
If you frequently experience ‘tropical moments’, then this could be due to an imbalance in hormone levels. It was once thought that being too low in estrogen was the issue. However, we now understand that the cause may also be too much estrogen and too little progesterone, or other hormone imbalances in your body that come from the adrenals, ovaries, thyroid, pancreas or gastrointestinal tract. These systems do not always keep in balance, and women are more prone to hormonal imbalances as they go through midlife changes.
11. Vaginal Dryness
As menopause approaches, the reduction of estrogen levels causes changes to the vaginal wall. This can cause vaginal dryness, which can make sex uncomfortable. There are lubricants available which can ease your discomfort, or an intravaginal low-dose estrogen and testosterone cream
12. Breast Changes
As women age, high levels of estrogen can make breasts feel tender and sore, which could lead to lumps, fibroids, and cysts. That’s why it is important to have annual exams and screening mammograms .Get to know your breasts best, by getting into the habit of checking yourself for lumps or anything unusual. While not every lump or breast change indicates cancer, it’s still best to be on the safe side of things and talk to your doctor if you feel something suspicious.
13. Loss of Libido
Hormonal imbalances can cause women to experience a low sex drive. This could be due to low levels of estrogen. Help is at hand though, as your doctor can prescribe a treatment, either as a localized estrogen vaginal cream, or in a tablet, patch or gel form. Or you can try our herb which is known in the Chinese medicine to improve libido.
If you suspect that you are suffering from conditions related to hormonal imbalances, then it’s a good idea to visit your doctor to find out for sure. Hormonal imbalances are well recognized in this day and age, and there are trained specialists such as obstetricians, gynecologists and reproductive endocrinologists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of hormonal imbalance and abnormalities.
Source: Healthy and Natural World ., WEBMD
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