How Are Hormonal Imbalances Treated
Treatment for a hormonal imbalance will depend on whats causing it.
If you have lower-than-normal hormone levels, the main treatment is hormone replacement therapy. Depending on which hormone is deficient, you may take oral medication or injection medication.
For example, if you have low thyroid hormone levels , your provider can prescribe synthetic thyroid hormone pills. If you have growth hormone deficiency, youll likely have to take injections of synthetic growth hormone.
If you have higher-than-normal hormone levels, there are many treatment options depending on the cause. Options include medication, surgery, radiation therapy or a combination of any of these.
For example, if you have a prolactinoma, a benign tumor that causes excess prolactin , your provider may prescribe a medication to shrink the tumor or you may need surgery to remove it.
Can I Check My Hormone Levels At Home
You can check your hormone levels at home with an at home hormone check that involves a simple self-blood collection.
It is now possible to check your hormone levels at home via female hormone checks that involves taking a blood sample at home. Blood samples are the most accurate way to check your hormone levels.
Taking a progesterone test will prove insightful if you suspect that you are living with estrogen dominance as it measures the volume of circulating progesterone in the blood.
LetsGetCheckeds range of Female Hormone Tests provides a broad picture of a womans hormonal health. This can provide you with an insight into your current fertility status or potential shifts in hormones with online results available in just 5 days and medical support available over-the-phone for support and guidance.
You should consider taking a female hormone test if:
- Youre looking to start a family
- Youre thinking about pregnancy down the line
- Youre interested in knowing more about your hormone levels
- Youre experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance
Estrogen Dominance: Signs And Symptoms
When the levels of estrogen are chronically high , women are commonly diagnosed with estrogen dominance. Unfortunately, without proper balance from other sex hormones, estrogen dominance can lead to an array of unpleasant symptoms:
- Non-cancerous breast lumps
High levels of estrogen can also cause PCOS, uterine fibroids, irregular menstrual cycles, and thyroid dysfunction. Men may also suffer from estrogen-related issues too. Additionally, elevated estrogen is a risk factor for breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer in women, as well as prostate and breast cancer in men.
The good news is, there are many lifestyle changes that can lower estrogen levels naturally. Beyond removing endocrine disruptors from your home, incorporating meditation and finding joyful ways to move your body are key. Furthermore, eating a low estrogen diet is a practical, sustainable way to help balance hormones.
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Dont Forget Vitamins B And D
Taking a high-quality vitamin B-complex supplement can help when youre in the throes of hormonal ups and downs. This is one group of vitamins that you might want to supplement with in addition to eating foods high in these vitamins. Vitamin B-complex is involved in both the production of testosterone and the regulation of energy production in the body. There are nine B vitamins in total, and certain foods contain specific B vitamins. For example, wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of many B vitamins. Leafy greens, like spinach, kale, collard greens, and even romaine lettuce contain B9also known as folate. Other foods with notable amounts of B vitamins are eggs, sunflower seeds, milk, yogurt, and animal protein. Vitamin D is essential, too. In fact, numerous studies show its importance for mitigating symptoms of PCOS.
Image by Kristen Kilpatrick
How Can I Prevent A Hormonal Imbalance
While many hormonal imbalances arent preventable, there are certain things you can do to optimize your overall health, which could help keep your hormones balanced, including:
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Managing your chronic health conditions well .
- Quitting smoking or using tobacco products, if you smoke.
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Types Of Hormone Imbalances
Estrogen Dominance Estrogen dominance is a quite common cause of hormone imbalance that occurs when estrogen levels are too high relative to progesterone levels. This can happen in a few ways:
Symptoms of estrogen dominance include: Tender breasts, irregular cycles long or short, bloating, acne, breast cysts, PMS, headaches, anxiety, weight gain, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, hair loss, and difficulties getting pregnant. However, this is not an all-inclusive list.
The graphic above shows a healthy pattern and 3 patterns of estrogen dominance. Please take note that all of the unhealthy patterns are still within a typical lab reference range. Your hormones will come back normal. Its the ratio between the hormones that are important! Adding a healthy pattern to the previously mentioned reasons for Estrogen Dominance leaves us with the following patterns for your hormones.
Symptoms Of High Estrogen In Women
The symptoms of high estrogen in women can be similar to men except for some key differences with the menstrual cycle and menopause symptoms.
- Low libido – can be from low testosterone or low estrogens
- Headaches or migraines – especially if it is in the luteal phase of your cycle
- Hair loss and skin problems – check estrogens and 5a-DHT levels
- Insomnia – can be from low progesterone or high estrogen
- Fatigue – especially if it is premenstrual fatigue
- Weight gain – this can be at any time of the menstrual cycle
- Fluid retention around the time of your cycle
- Bloating – this can be from digestion issues which often flare up during PMS
- PMS – premenstrual syndrome symptoms are common with hormonal balance issues
- Heavy periods – a common sign of estrogen excess
- Mood swings – a severe form of this is PMDD and can be from a hormone imbalance between estrogen and progesterone, or high testosterone.
A number of these symptoms are strongly connected to high estrogen levels but it is important to test your hormones because they can also be caused by low progesterone or a testosterone problem.
These symptoms may also be connected to low thyroid function, adrenal issues, or other problems which is why testing is important.
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Tips To Balance Estrogen Levels Naturally
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Testing High Estrogen Levels Summary
The best way to test your estrogen levels is with the DUTCH hormone test. This test not only measures your sex hormones but also assesses how your body is detoxifying estrogen if you have high estrogen levels. This helps implement a more specific treatment plan for you.
Furthermore, the DUTCH test assesses your adrenal function, measuring both your free cortisol and total cortisol production, which is important as high cortisol can be a cause of high estrogen.
Also, testing gut function can be an important step to working out “why” you have high estrogen. I recommend a stool test like the GI-MAP test that measures beneficial and pathogenic bacteria levels, candida and parasites to assess gut function.
The GI-MAP test also measures b-glucuronidase levels which when elevated can be a prime cause of high estrogen levels as it leads to issues with Phase 3 of estrogen detoxification.
Remember: When we are treating high estrogen, we always start with making sure Phase 3 is optimal, which means making sure digestive function is in good health.
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Preventing High Estrogen Levels
While improving detoxification, reducing the activity of the aromatase enzyme to optimize your estrogen levels, you have to look at some lifestyle factors to reduce estrogen levels.
Reducing alcohol consumption can help reduce estrogen levels in men and women. For some people, this means reducing alcohol consumption. For other people, it may be necessary to fully eliminate alcohol for a period of time in order to improve liver function.
Estrogen in the environment is also a major problem. They can be found in plastics , cleaning products, personal care products, factory-farmed meats.
Estrogens are so widely used by many industries, that it is extremely hard to avoid them. Nevertheless, we can reduce our exposure and improve our detoxification.
Avoid Hormone Havoc White Carbs And Sugar
Sugars and refined carbs cause havoc to your hormones — they mess with your insulin and in turn that messes with your levels of reproductive hormones.
Remember, theyre all connected like a big string of dominoes.
Some people also advocate avoiding soy, because it contains phytoestrogens that mimic estrogen in your body.
Generally, experts say its ok in moderation, but maybe skip the soy if youre experiencing symptoms of high estrogen or you think you might be entering perimenopause.
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The Problem With Low Estradiol:
Estradiol works to boost serotonin levels naturally . When this hormone is out of balance, serotonin levels drop. In order to counteract this, the adrenals kick out norepinephrine and epinephrine , which have natural balancing mechanisms.
However, if you are under chronic stress or have weak adrenals, Ep levels will drop, skewing its natural balance with Nr. Here are the symptoms that follow:
Low Serotonin: Headaches, depression, fatigue, low sex drive, insomnia, & hot flashes.
Imbalance of Nr & Ep: Hot flashes, insomnia and anxiety.
What’s Normal And What’s Not
Like any other part of the body, things can go wrong with hormones. If your hormones are out of balance, you might notice different symptoms, depending on which hormone or hormones are affected, says Bhavini Bhavsar, MD, a PeaceHealth endocrinologist in Vancouver, Washington. Discuss this with your doctor so that the right testing can be done.
Its also important to remember that it will be normal for hormone levels to fluctuate at different times in your life, she notes.
While you can try to affect specific hormones with certain foods or activities, remember that hormones typically rely on and play off of each other. Rarely can you affect just one hormone without having an impact on others since they work in concert with each other. If you want to effect a positive change in your hormones, its best to choose actions that help them all.
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Reduce Your Sugar Intake
You should avoid foods that have been heavily processed and pumped full of added chemicals and sugars if you’re looking for how to lower your cortisol levels. “One way to combat high cortisol levels, stress, and weight gain is to reduce simple sugars,” says Balk. The main foods that fall under this high-sugar category include:
- white bread
While these sugary goodies might give you a temporary jolt of energy Balk suggests focusing on other sources of energy. “As your body still needs to receive sugar to fuel itself, focus on having complex carbohydrates rather than simple sugars.” Jim White RD, ACSM, and the owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios adds that fiber-rich foods, protein, and healthy fats will also help keep your cortisol levels within the normal range.
Foods to combat stress and lower cortisol include:
- whole grains
- starchy vegetables
- protein foods
Hormones And Your Health
Hormones are chemical messengers that help your cells communicate and trigger various actions. Theyre the bedrock of your bodys endocrine system, which regulates growth, reproduction, metabolism, temperature, and even your mood.
Hormones and the endocrine system keep your body in a balanced state of homeostasis. Therefore, having a hormonal imbalance too little or too much of a certain hormone can have harmful side effects.
Oxidative stress, infertility, and endocrine disorders like thyroid disease are just a few conditions that can result from hormonal imbalances (
Whats more, Nigella sativa extract exhibits estrogenic activity, meaning it acts similarly to the hormone estrogen in your body .
In fact, some studies in rats are exploring whether nigella seed extracts could be an alternative to hormone replacement therapy during menopause, a time when the body typically produces less estrogen than it used to .
Concentrated Nigella sativa supplements are becoming increasingly popular and sometimes marketed as black seed or black cumin seed. Whole nigella seeds have an herby aroma and are easy to add to bread, salads, and other dishes .
Still, keep in mind that most studies on nigella seeds and hormones were conducted in animals and used concentrated extracts or isolated thymoquinone. Thus, while using whole seeds in cooking can be healthy and delicious, it may not confer the same benefits.
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How Long Does It Take To Balance Hormones
As you can imagine, this varies. However, research shows that by taking a holistic, well-rounded approach, you can balance your hormones in less than four months. In fact, you can significantly reduce the amount of chemicals and pesticides in your body, in one week. How so? Switch to an organic diet. And in less than 10 days, you can improve your blood sugar by eating less sugar . By incorporating more fermented foods and a potent probiotic, women can more easily detox estrogen, which helps balance hormonesin less than two months. By four months, eating a hormonally-supportive diet makes an impact, slowing the aging process and protecting fertility.
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.
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Reducing Aromatase Enzyme Activity
We have already discussed a couple of ways to reduce aromatase enzyme activity like decreasing body fat, reducing insulin resistance, and increasing the intake of phytoestrogens.
Another way to reduce the aromatase enzyme is by supplementing with the following nutrients:
Zinc is the number one inhibitor and commonly a nutrient that is deficient in men and women. It is recommended to take 20 – 50 mg of zinc a day, depending on the person.
In order to prevent any possible side effects, it is better to consult a functional medicine doctor or naturopath regarding the dosage of selenium, magnesium, and zinc per day.
How To Balance Your Hormones Naturally
Ultimately, consistency and commitment are key. How to balance your hormones, naturally, is all-encompassing. Here are the Cliffs Notes: Focus on an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense diet, remove endocrine disruptors, incorporate stress relief habits, and take the necessary steps to get your gut health on track. Finding a balance with exercise is important, too. If youre feeling overwhelmed, start small. Begin with daily meditation practice. Next week, take a stab at a 3-day hormone-balancing meal plan. One step at a time.
Image by Hannah Zahner
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Testing Blood Estrogen Levels
A blood test will usually measure estradiol levels which is the stronger version of estrogen but some labs will also measure serum estrone and serum estriol levels.
A blood test is accurate for measuring estrogen and progesterone levels but it will not measure the estrogen metabolites and methylation of estrogen.
A blood test will show whether you have high oestrogen levels but it will not show why the levels are high like the DUTCH test.
Engage In Regular Exercise
Physical activity strongly influences hormonal health. Aside from improving blood flow to your muscles, exercise increases hormone receptor sensitivity, meaning that it enhances the delivery of nutrients and hormone signals (
Insulin is a hormone that allows cells to take up sugar from your bloodstream to use for energy. However, if you have a condition called insulin resistance, your cells may not effectively react to insulin. This condition is a risk factor for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease .
However, while some researchers still debate whether the improvements come from exercise itself or from losing weight or fat, evidence shows that regular exercise may improve insulin resistance independently of body weight or fat mass reduction .
Many types of physical activity have been found to help prevent insulin resistance, including high intensity interval training, strength training, and cardio .
Being physically active may also help boost levels of muscle-maintaining hormones that decline with age, such as testosterone, IGF-1, DHEA, and human growth hormone .
For people who cannot perform vigorous exercise, even regular walking may increase these hormone levels, potentially improving strength and quality of life .
Strength training, aerobics, walking, and other forms of exercise may modify hormone levels to reduce your risk of disease and prevent muscle mass decline as you age.
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