What Are The Most Common Hormone Imbalances
Because your hormones are so interconnected and control nearly every system and process in the body, the symptoms can be wide-ranging, and a lot of this depends on the exact type of hormonal imbalance you may have. While there are many different types of hormonal imbalances, modern life puts us all most at risk for developing a few specific ones. Here, Dr. Krieg explains the most common hormone imbalances she sees in her office and some of the top causes of those hormonal imbalances.
What Is The Endocrine System
The endocrine system is in charge of coordinating the relationship between different organs and hormones, which are chemicals that are released into your bloodstream from cells within your endocrine glands.
Hormones are secreted by various glands and organs, including your thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, ovaries, testicles and pancreas. The entire endocrine system works together to control the level of hormones circulating throughout your body, and if one or more is even slightly imbalanced, it can cause widespread health problems affecting growth, sexual development and function, sleep, metabolism and hunger.
Once your hormones are in circulation, they target specific tissues or cells by binding to receptors that are located inside the cell or on its surface. These hormones work as chemical messengers and play a key role in your bodys daily functions.
The endocrine system is made up of many glands, including the pituitary gland or master gland thats responsible for sending information from your brain to other glands in your body. The pituitary gland also produces many hormones that travel throughout the body and have different important functions.
The pituitary gland is made up of two different tissue types: the anterior pituitary that synthesizes and releases classic hormones, and the posterior pituitary gland that secretes neurohormones that are made in the hypothalamus.
How Common Are Imbalances
Our bodies have an amazing internal regulating system called homeostasis. The theory goes that if you leave the body alone it will harmonize to its own best rhythm.
Thats not the case for all of us though, thanks in part to some genetic or physiological conditions – and because of the increased environmental toxin load were all living with in our modern, busy, post-industrial lives.
Many of us knowingly or unknowingly suffer with imbalances: a survey of 2,000 American women, aged 30 to 60, also found that nearly half have experienced symptoms of a hormonal imbalance.
One of the most common hormone imbalances that can cause fertility issues is polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS. It affects at least 1 in 10 of us – maybe 1 in 5 by some measures.
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How Does My Hormone Cycle Work
Hormone Imbalance & Hormone HarmonyHormone imbalance is best understood by knowing how a normal menstrual cycle works. A menstrual cycle is the result of a hormonal dance between the pituitary gland in the brain and the ovaries. Every month the female sex hormones prepare the body to support a pregnancy, and without fertilization there is menstruation .
Menstrual CycleA menstrual cycle is determined by the number of days from the first day of one period to the first day of the next. So day one of the menstrual cycle is the first of full bleeding day of the period. A typical cycle is approximately 24 to 35 days . It is not abnormal for a woman¹s cycle to occasionally be shorter or longer.
On Day 1 of the menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone levels are low. Low levels of estrogen and progesterone signal the pituitary gland to produce Follicle Stimulating Hormone . FSH begins the process of maturing a follicle .
The follicle produces more estrogen to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. At ovulation, usually around Day 12 14, increased estrogen levels trigger a sharp rise in Luteinizing Hormone from the pituitary gland, causing release of the egg from the follicle.
The ruptured follicle now secretes progesterone and estrogen to continue to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels drop and, on Day 28, the menses begin.
Youre Consuming Too Much Sugar
I think of leptin as the hormone that says, Darling, put down the fork. Under normal circumstances, its released from your fat cells and travels in the blood to your brain, where it signals that youre full. But leptins noble cause has been impeded by our consumption of a type of sugar called fructose, which is found in fruit and processed foods alike.
When you eat small amounts of fructose, youre OK. But if you eat more than the recommended five daily servings of fruit plus processed foods with added sugaryour liver cant deal with the fructose fast enough to use it as fuel. Instead, your body starts converting it into fats, sending them off into the bloodstream as triglycerides and depositing them in the liver and elsewhere in your belly.
As more fructose is converted to fat, your levels of leptin increase . And when you have too much of any hormone circulating in your system, your body becomes resistant to its message. With leptin, that means your brain starts to miss the signal that youre full. You continue to eat, and you keep gaining weight.
If you eat more than the recommended five daily servings of fruit, plus processed foods with added sugar, your liver cant deal with the fructose fast enough to use it as fuel.
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Be Wary Of Dairy Products
Dairy is an important source of nutrients for many people. However, females concerned about levels of reproductive hormones may wish to use caution, especially before consuming cream or yogurt.
A 2017 study notes that eating dairy can reduce levels of some protective hormones.
In addition, the authors point to an association between eating cream and yogurt and missing ovulation. The link is unclear, and the researchers call for further studies.
What Is Pms Bloating
Bloating means your body is retaining water. This means your belly will feel heavy or swollen a few days before your period or just at the start of it. Bloating has two mechanisms. Fluid retention and gut function.
This can be uncomfortable and painful.Bloating PMS symptoms can include feeling tight or gaining weight. If you feel that any symptoms of bloating PMS happen for a long period of time , you should check with a doctor.
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Symptoms Of Disrupted Hormones
Fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold and hot, changes in bowel movements, dry skin, a puffy face, weight changes, urinary incontinence, brain fog and even memory loss can be symptoms of imbalanced hormones.
Dysregulated cortisol or insulin may be implicated if you have trouble falling asleep or sleeping through the night, if you struggle to get out of bed even after seven to nine hours of sleep and you need caffeine just to get going in the morning.
Excessive energy crashes and ‘hanger’ can also suggest imbalance.
Hormonal Acne: Diet Dos And Donts
The exact role between diet and hormonal acne isnt fully understood. Some foods may help prevent acne particularly inflammation-fighting foods.
Plant-based foods high in antioxidants may help reduce inflammation and promote clearer skin. Omega-3 fatty acids may also decrease skin inflammation.
Contrary to popular belief, junk food alone doesnt cause acne. But overdoing it on certain foods may lead to increased inflammation.
You may consider limiting the following:
- refined carbs, such as white bread and pasta
To clear up hormonal acne and keep it at bay its important to establish an appropriate skincare routine.
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Your Weight Gain Is Only In Your Abdomen
Menopause puts your body through a whole host of changes, one of them commonly being weight gain. Why? Your production of estrogen, along with other hormones, takes a dip. Outside of menopause, low estrogen levels can be due to excessive exercise, disordered eating patterns, or pituitary gland issues. Decreased estrogen levels can change the fat distribution of your body, causing you to gain more in the belly as opposed to the hips, thighs, and buttocks. Estrogen deficiency can also impair the action of insulin, making it harder to regulate blood sugar and leading to increased hormonal belly fat and abdominal weight gain.
Melt away hormonal belly fat caused by low estrogen and insulin resistance by adopting a low carbohydrate eating plan, recommends Johnston. Between protein, fat and carbohydrates, carbs have the biggest impact on raising blood sugar and insulin levels, she says. Reducing high-carbohydrate foods such as refined sugars, breads, cookies, crackers, and pasta and boosting less insulin-stimulating foods rich in fiber, protein, and healthy fat can have a significant impact on your waistline.
Keep in mind that if your carb consumption dips too low, it can suppress your leptin levels and interfere with leptins ability to regulate your reproductive hormones so its important to keep some whole-food based sources of complex carbohydrates in the diet such as fruit, starchy vegetables, and whole grains.
Consider How Caffeine Is Affecting You
When I talk to most women about caffeine, I usually hear something like, Ill do anything you want me to, but dont make me give up coffee.
I get it. Life is nuts, and most of us need to mainline caffeine just to get by. As I said above, though, this could be really problematic, especially if you experience anxiety on the regular, feel like you cant get out of bed in the morning, have energy crashes in the day, or have trouble falling asleep at night.
If youre not ready to ditch the joe, then just observe how you feel 30, 60, and 120 minutes after youve had coffee. If youre wanting to call it quits, ease into it with half decaf and half regular, replace a cup a day with decaf, or experiment with matcha.
Life is full-on for so many of us these days, which is why I hope that you have a clearer picture of what a hormone imbalance actually looks like and how to start to reverse it. Hormones exist in a hierarchy, so its important to take a top down approach to addressing problems that arise from a hormone imbalance.
Hormones are also talking to each other all day long, so once you work on one hormone, the rest will start to fall in line. Thats the beauty of hormones. Theyre working together to support you, always.
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Signs Of Hormonal Imbalance
Hormone imbalance can affect mood, skin, sleep patterns and energy levels. If one feels constantly burned out, has serious breakouts, or experiences an extraneous amount of irritation to the emotional body, hormones are off balance, says Jacqueline Zajdman, a Los Angeles based herbalist and owner of As Above Herbals.
Life affects us in every way possible, and its inevitable that our systems feel these aspects and adjust, fluctuate and change to adapt.
She points out that our hormones can get off balance not just internally but external factors play a role in causing imbalance. Our bodies are constantly changing as women. We are affected by our physiology preparing us for ovulation, as well as being affected by our environment. That includes seasons, living in a city, work stress, financial stress, romantic stress, and staying true to ourselves. Life affects us in every way possible, and it’s inevitable that our systems feel these aspects and adjust, fluctuate and change to adapt.
What Are The Signs Youre Experiencing A Hormone Imbalance
Everyone experiences fluctuations in their hormones across the course of their lives. It may occur when your endocrine system is not functioning optimally.
The endocrine glands are responsible for producing, storing, and releasing hormones into your blood. Multiple endocrine glands control different aspects of your body functions, and can present symptoms like:
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Lower Your Sugar Intake
Minimizing added sugar intake may be instrumental in optimizing hormone function and avoiding obesity, diabetes, and other diseases.
The simple sugar fructose is present in many types of sugar, comprising up to 43% of honey, 50% of refined table sugar, 55% of high fructose corn syrup, and 90% of agave .
In addition, sugar-sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars in the Western diet, and fructose is commonly used commercially in soft drinks, fruit juice, and sport and energy drinks .
Fructose intake has increased exponentially in the United States since around 1980, and studies consistently show that eating added sugar promotes insulin resistance regardless of total calorie intake or weight gain .
Long-term fructose intake has been linked to disruptions of the gut microbiome, which may lead to other hormonal imbalances .
Whats more, fructose may fail to stimulate the production of the fullness hormone leptin, leading to decreased calorie burning and increased weight gain .
Therefore, reducing your intake of sugary drinks and other sources of added sugar may improve hormone health.
Diets high in sugar have been shown to promote insulin resistance, disrupt your gut microbiome, and reduce leptin production. Thus, lowering your sugar intake may aid hormonal health.
Quieting The Noise In The Green Living Space
Even in the wellness world, theres so much fallacy floating around. Think about this: youre in a room with 2,000 all shouting different opinions at you. These opinions all challenge the other and your mind feels like its going to explode. This is whats happening to you – every day – that you are on social media, in your inbox, etc. No wonder youre so confused on what to do, not to do, etc. to work on your hormone health.
I recommend you set a 15 minute timer on your phone and do a purge. Unfollow any accounts that you:
- Didnt even know you were following
- Post contradictory information
- Post information thats not serving you
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How To Treat Hormonal Acne Naturally
In some cases, plant-based treatment options may be used to clear up mild hormonal acne.
Natural treatments are usually free of the side effects sometimes caused by prescription options. But they may not be as effective. Research on natural options is lacking, and at this time nothing has been proven to produce results. Talk with your doctor about potential risks and to ensure the treatment wont interact with any medications youre taking.
What Causes Hormonal Imbalances
Throughout your life and even throughout the day your hormone levels naturally rise and fall.
Certain periods of life cause more dramatic changes and fluctuations in hormones, including:
However, there are several other reasons why your hormone levels may be irregular at unexpected times. Some of the most common causes of fluctuating or imbalanced hormone levels include:
- Certain medications.
- Steroid use.
These hormonal imbalances are more likely to be temporary or fixable with a change in medication or properly managing stress.
Chronic hormone-related conditions can have several different possible causes. In general, the main conditions or situations that cause medically significant hormone imbalances include:
Tumors, adenomas and growths
Any kind of growth on a gland or organ that produces hormones, such as a tumor, adenoma or nodule, could affect its ability to do so.
Rare endocrine tumors form in glands or in cells that produce hormones and can cause hormone imbalances. Some of the rare endocrine tumors include:
An adenoma is a benign tumor. Many adenomas are nonfunctioning, meaning they dont produce hormones. But some can produce excess hormones. These are called functioning adenomas. Adenomas that affect your endocrine system and cause hormone imbalances include:
Damage or injury to an endocrine gland
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What Are The Treatment Options
Hormone replacement therapy is one of the most common treatments of low hormone levels.
For people experiencing menopause, premature menopause, or primary ovarian insufficiency as well as after oophorectomy or chemotherapy estrogen therapy can offer some relief. Estrogen therapy alone is recommended for those who have had a hysterectomy. You can take estrogen in different forms, generally estrogen pills and estrogen patches.
Start With These Simple Holistic Living Steps
Remember, this is living a holistic lifestyle. Its NOT a diet, fad, weird detox or anything like that. Its a complete transition youre going to make for your life and your family. All in the name of hormone healing, living a nourishing non-toxic life and supporting your overall wellness.
Fill your life with joy, peace and non-toxic relationships, products and nourishing food instead! AKA get outside in nature, its the most important thing to do for healing.
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Youve Got High Belly Fat
High belly fat reflects high levels of visceral fat, which is the fat that accumulates around your organs. It is very pro-inflammatory and dangerous for your overall health. The vast majority of your cortisol receptors are located around your mid-section. If your belly fat is high, your cortisol stress levels will be out of balance and leading you down the path to weight gain, poor health and lack of vitality. Cortisol is the yang to insulins yin, responsible for increasing blood sugar levels by breaking down your muscle mass. If you have a cortisol problem, it can create an insulin problem.
The Fix: If youve got high belly fat, stop drinking beer until things start shifting back in the right direction. There is a reason they call it a beer belly! Visceral fat is also strongly connected to poor insulin function and thus high insulin levels, so lowering your carb intake is also a great way to lower your systemic or total body inflammation.