What Are Hormonal Imbalances
Your body secretes about 50 hormones that control many critical functions including metabolism, homeostasis , sexual activity, and contraction of the heart muscle.
Think of hormones as messenger molecules that one part of your body makes and then transports elsewhere. Your pancreas, for instance, secretes insulin, a hormone that helps your body utilize glucose for energy.;
Hormonal imbalances occur when too much or too little of a hormone exists in your bloodstream. Even small hormonal imbalances can create side effects that resonate throughout your body.
Consider insulin. Eating too many sugary, processed foods can elevate this hormone, overwhelming your cells so they dont hear its call. Your pancreas continues to secrete insulin, but your cells cant easily take up glucose from your blood.
In other words, your cells become resistant to insulins message, so your pancreas tries to make more of this hormone, in hopes the increased production will cause the message to get through. Insulin resistance can eventually lead totype 2 diabetes with all its related symptoms including disease, disability, and early death.;
Insulin resistance, like any hormonal imbalance, doesnt exist in a vacuum. It can knock other hormones like cortisol out of balance. Elevated levels of this stress hormone contribute to obesity, lead to adrenal burnout, and trigger inflammatory diseases including chronic fatigue syndrome.
When Is A Period Considered Irregular
Irregular periods are those that occur less than 24 days apart or more than 38 days apart. Put another way, the length of time from the first day of your last period to the first day of your next one is either less than 24 days or more than 38 days.
If your cycle length changes by more than 20 days each month, thats also considered irregular. However, irregular periods are normal during the first few years of menstruation and during perimenopause, the time leading up to menopause.
Period Problems And Period
A common complaint of women who visit Madison Womens Health is irregular periods or unexpected changes to their periods. A period is considered irregular when it occurs more often than before or less often than before, or if the amount and duration of bleeding has changed significantly for repeated months. Is your period suddenly much heavier than it has been? Or are you not having a period at all?
Keep track of your cycles, when you begin to bleed, and for how long. A popular app among our patients for tracking cycles is Period Tracker Period Calendar , although there are many options. Let your doctor know how many days there are between your periods and what your typical flow is like. Discuss what is different and why you are concerned. Let them know if youre under more stress than before, if youve changed your diet or exercise recently, or if you have a family history of irregular periods.
These changes could have a structural cause having to do with your cervix or uterus or a hormonal cause. Your doctor will likely want to perform a physical exam and may also check specific hormones on a specific day of your menstrual cycle.
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Youre Losing Your Hair
If your increased abdominal weight gain is coinciding with an accelerated rate of hair loss, your hormones might be to blame. Specifically, thyroid hormones help to regulate your body weight as well as your hair growth so an underactive thyroid could be the culprit of hormonal belly if youre experiencing issues with both simultaneously.
Because the relationship between metabolism, thyroid hormones, and weight is complex, the exact mechanism by which thyroid hormones cause weight changes isnt entirely understood. The most simple explanation is that when your thyroid isnt producing enough hormones, your metabolic rate slows down, reducing the number of calories your body burns on a daily basis, and often contributing to weight gain, particularly around your midsection.
However, it isnt thyroid hormones alone that play a role in how much energy your body uses. Thyroid hormones work synergistically with a number of other hormones, proteins, receptors, and chemical messengers in the body making it a layered process with other downstream effects on inadequate thyroid levels such as fatigue, hair loss, constipation, and low libido.
Signs You Have A Hormonal Imbalance
Your hormones are tiny chemical messengers that travel throughout your body, delivering messages to your organs, tissues and cells to boost metabolism, build muscle, de-stress, lift mood, etc. The food you eat, how much you move , and lifestyle factors like sleep and stress management play fundamental and crucial roles in setting and maintaining ideal hormone balance.
Make the wrong food choices, lack exercise in your daily life, or burn the candle at both ends and it will come at a cost. Some of us can get away with this for a long time without suffering too heavily. For others, it can quickly derail health and performance goals.
While its human nature to look for the exciting and sexy new fixes to hormone imbalance, the truth is, an ancestral approach of tackling the things that impact you the most food, activity, environment are the answer that addresses the root cause of why these imbalances occurred in the first place.
Struggling to lose weight? Unable to focus? Chances are, your hormones are out of whack.
Here is a quick look at 8 common hormone imbalances and how to fix them.
Read Also: What Does Estrogen Do For You
What Causes Brain Fog
“Brain fog” is a common complaint even though this is not a true medical term. It is a commonly reported symptom with many potential underlying causes. Women in perimenopause and after menopause report more memory complaints and difficulty concentrating than premenopausal women. Declining estrogen levels may be to blame, but other factors may play a role. Perimenopausal and post-menopausal women often have trouble sleeping and experience hot flashes and increased depression. These, in turn, may contribute to brain fog. Thyroid disease is another common cause of brain fog. See your doctor if you are experiencing brain fog so you can find out and treat the root cause. If declining estrogen levels are to blame, hormone therapy may offer some relief and restore hormonal balance.
What Is A Hormone Imbalance
Hormone imbalances occur when there is not enough or too much of a certain hormone being produced by the body. And because a hormone imbalance often presents as tiny inconveniences or mimic other conditions such as constipation or diarrhea, losing or gaining too much weight, hot flashes, sweating, exhaustion, and infertility, many people brush off the symptoms and do not seek medical treatment.
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Understand How Insulin Impacts Weight
Insulin is one of the most important hormones when it comes to weight loss and weight gain. Made by the pancreas, insulin is responsible for storing blood sugar, or utilizing it, depending upon your bodys needs of the moment. After you eat a large meal, a substantial amount of insulin releases itself into the bloodstream. It also enters the bloodstream as needed throughout the day, ensuring that blood sugar levels remain stable.
Another key function of this essential hormone is fat storage. Insulin decides how much fat to store, and how much to convert for energy expenditure. Chronically high levels of insulin can lead to a condition known as insulin resistance, which is linked to an uptick in blood sugar as well as continued elevated insulin levels.
Preventing this insulin imbalance is crucial, as it leads to weight gain, and eventually type 2 diabetes. When insulin levels remain high over an extended period of time, obesity and metabolic syndrome are often the unfortunate outcome.
Your Hormones Your Health
Feeling bloated, irritable, or just not your best? Shifts in your hormones could be to blame. Hormones are chemical âmessengersâ that impact the way your cells and organs function. Itâs normal for your levels of them 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 your levels to go up or down, too.
What Are Irregular Periods
Most women have menstrual cycles that last between 21 and 35 days. Up to one quarter of women experience irregular periods. This includes having periods that are shorter or longer than usual or periods that are lighter or heavier than usual. Some women who have irregular periods may experience abdominal cramping or a lack of ovulation. Amenorrhea is a medical term that refers to an absence of periods for at least 3 months even though a woman is not pregnant. Menorrhagia is the term that means excessive menstrual bleeding. Dysmenorrhea refers to pain and cramping during periods. Prolonged menstrual bleeding involves periods in which bleeding routinely lasts for 8 days or longer. Oligomenorrhea is a condition in which periods occur infrequently or more than every 35 days. See your doctor if you believe hormonal imbalance is affecting your menstrual cycle.
What Is A Hormonal Imbalance
Produced by our endocrine glandsthe parts of the endocrine system including adrenals, thyroid, pancreas, and female or male reproductive system that communicate with our nervous systemhormones perform essential functions, relay important warnings, and communicate messages throughout the body. Everything from your appetite and metabolism to heart rate, sleep patterns, reproduction, and mood is dictated by your hormones. That means your hormones make sure everything is running smoothly and that your rhythms stay in sync.
Struggling With Sugar Cravings
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Natural Treatments For Hormonal Imbalance
Natural treatments are effective in treating hormonal imbalance in women because they target your overall health. The changes in your lifestyle – from toxic eliminations to healthy additions – will work on many of your bodys issues simultaneously.
Below are some of the most effective natural treatment options:
#1. Using Herbs to Get Sleep
Dropping levels of progesterone and estrogen lead women to experience hormone-related insomnia and low-quality sleep, while also potentially affecting cortisol levels. This occurs during the perimenopause and menopause phases.
Herbs for sleep can do wonders to improve your sleep quality no matter the hormonal imbalance compromising it. They include natural remedies like valerian, lavender, and Happy Healthy Hippies Namastay in Bed herb collection.
#2. Starting a Hormone Balance Diet
Diet plays a significant role in maintaining your hormone balance. Many of the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients required to keep hormone levels steady come right from what you eat.
If youre looking to start a hormone balance diet, these are your go-to foods:
- Organic tempeh
#3. Taking Supplements
Speaking of natural sources of vitamins and nutrients, supplements can be a viable option for you. Natural supplements, or hormone balance pills, can help address deficiencies.
For example, women who have an iodine deficiency, which we mentioned is related to hormonal imbalance, can take supplements to regulate their iodine levels.
Risks Of Not Treating Hormone Imbalances
Hormone imbalances, when left untreated, are more than just annoying mood swings and bad PMS. They can be indicators that something more serious rarely, even cancerous is happening in your body.
Not getting your hormones back in balance could lead to other problems, like elevated cholesterol, osteoporosis, obesity, lack of sleep, and more.
Although truly identified hormonal imbalances often need medical or even surgical intervention, a healthy lifestyle can improve low-level symptoms.
Do your best to get:
- 6-8 hours of sleep each day;
- 30+ minutes of vigorous exercise daily;
- And a high-quality diet with enough protein and healthy fats and less sugar.
What Are The Types Of Hormonal Imbalances
Before you can consider treatment options, however, lets first go over the main female hormonal imbalances.
While several hormones could fall out of balance at any point, there are 5 main types of hormonal imbalances affecting women. Some, like cortisol imbalance, occur in both males and females. Others, like estrogen imbalance, dominate the female hormone balance cycle.
Lets take a look at the big 5 hormonal imbalances in women.
Increased Risk Of Sleep Apnea
The risk of obstructive sleep apnea increases in women during and after menopause. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that causes people to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep. OSA occurs when muscles in the throat relax and block the airway during sleep. People who have this type of sleep apnea often snore. Researchers who performed one study found that perimenopausal and postmenopausal women who had lower estrogen levels were more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea than women who had higher estrogen levels. More studies are needed, but women who feel tired or who have unrefreshing sleep should see their doctors to assess hormone levels and discuss risk factors and testing for sleep apnea.
Treating Imbalance With Medications
Treatments for hormonal imbalance are often specific to the type of hormone in question and its related effects. Doctors use medications to treat imbalance because there are a variety of medications that can either stimulate or even replace hormonal chemicals in the body. These treatments are often referred to as hormone therapy.
Medications to balance female hormones, like estrogen and progestin, can alleviate symptoms like hot flashes and even increase fertility. Women with high androgen, a male hormone, can take medication to suppress high levels. Meanwhile, testosterone supplements can help men experience relief from fatigue, muscle loss, and other symptoms of âLow Tâ. Medications can even stimulate puberty in teenagers with delayed puberty.
There are a variety of other medications used to relieve other hormone imbalances, including insulin to treat Type I and Type II diabetes. Hormone therapy medications are available in pill, patch, injection, and topical cream form, depending on the treatment you need.
You Feel Less Satiated After Eating
If a meal that used to fill you up now suddenly leaves you wanting more, it could be a signal that your sex hormones are indirectly impacting your main metabolism-regulating hormones. Estrogen and testosterone are the two main players here.
If you have lower than normal levels of estrogen circulating, you might find yourself not feeling as satisfied after a meal. This is because of the impact estrogen has on leptin, your satiety hormone. Leptin is released by circulating fat tissue and tells your brain that youve had enough to eat. The more leptin you have circulating in your system, the more satiated youll feel
In one study, the presence of estrogen was correlated to an increased concentration of leptin and therefore a . Thats one reason why most postmenopausal women, whose estrogen levels are lower, typically gain fat mass and lose lean mass, says Ruvini Wijetilaka, MD, a physician at Parsley Health New York.
Testosterone, the main sex hormone found in men, has also been shown to have an inverse effect on leptin concentration. This means that as testosterone levels increase, leptin decreases. Elevated testosterone, due to everything from regularly missed periods, PCOS, or chronic stress, can cause a steep uptick in hunger and subsequent weight gain.
Signs Or Symptoms Of A Hormonal Imbalance
Your hormones play an integral role in your overall health. As a result, theres a broad range of signs or symptoms that could signal a hormonal imbalance. Your signs or symptoms will depend on which hormones or glands arent working properly.
Common hormonal conditions affecting both men and women could cause any of the following signs or symptoms: