14 Jul 2020
12 Signs You Have a Hormone Imbalance
14 Jul 2020
Something feels off, but not sure why? Your hormones might be the answer! Hormones are our body’s chemical messengers, telling your various organs what to do and when. We only need a tiny amount of a hormone to have the desired effect, which is why even slight a hormone imbalance can create very big changes to your health! Hormones are involved in almost every bodily function and are essential for your overall wellbeing. It’s no wonder that a hormone imbalance can manifest in so many different ways, disrupting multiple aspects of your life.
Think you might have a hormone imbalance? Keep reading to find out the most common signs and symptoms that something might be up with your hormones.
What Does a Hormone Imbalance Look Like?
1. Period problems
Irregular periods? Heavy periods? Painful periods? No period? Spotting? These are all major signs that your hormones might be out of balance. A healthy menstrual cycle relies on the co-operation of many different hormones, all working together to maintain the rhythm of your reproductive organs. Imbalances in estrogen, progesterone, LH, FSH, prolactin and thyroid hormones can all disrupt your period. Getting your hormone levels checked can diagnose the problem so that the hormone(s) responsible for your symptoms can be brought back into balance.
2. Difficulty losing weight
This is one of the most common concerns I see in my practice. Many people are living healthy lifestyles, eating clean, working out and still can’t seem to lose that extra weight! Oftentimes, one or more hormones are to blame. Elevated estrogen, underproduction of thyroid hormones and high cortisol (our stress hormone) can all contribute to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Once we figure out the cause of a patient’s weight gain and create an individualized treatment plan to address their unique hormone imbalance, the body is able to release the excess weight that it was previously holding on to.
Still breaking out well beyond your teenage years? Suffering with deep, painful, cystic acne? This a sure-fire sign that one of your hormones is out of balance. Elevated cortisol, low progesterone, high androgens and elevated insulin all contribute to the development of hormonal acne. What do all these hormone imbalances have in common? They increase your body’s sebum production! When high levels of sebum build up in the pores, it leads to deep, cystic pimples on the chin, cheeks, neck, back, chest and jawline. This is why hormonal acne is so resistant to common skincare solutions – it’s an inside job that needs to be tackled internally by treating the hormonal imbalance.
Getting your 8 hours every night and still dragging your feet? Unable to get going without one (or more!) cups of coffee? If you are taking care of yourself and still feel exhausted, your hormones could be the reason. Most commonly, cortisol production issues and low thyroid hormone levels are to blame. Getting properly tested can give you the answers you are looking for and get your energy levels back to normal! In addition to cortisol and thyroid testing, you should also consider tests such as iron, vitamin B12, vitamin D, fasting insulin and fasting glucose.
5. Low sex drive
The main hormones that influence libido are testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and cortisol. Low levels of the above sex hormones and high levels of cortisol are common, especially during perimenopause and beyond. These same hormone imbalances can also lead to vaginal dryness and painful intercourse, further compounding the issue.
6. Hair loss, thinning hair and brittle nails
The quality of your hair, skin and nails are directly linked to your hormonal health! Declining progesterone, over and underproduction of thyroid hormones, high cortisol, low estrogen and elevated androgens can all lead to issues such as hair thinning and/or weak nails. Other common culprits include poor digestion and nutrient deficiencies.
Do you dread the week leading up to your period? Plagued by mood swings, breast tenderness, irritability, anxiety, weepiness, bloating, headaches or fatigue before you bleed? PMS is a classic sign of hormonal imbalance, and one that I see often in my practice. Imbalances in estrogen, progesterone and cortisol can all contribute to PMS symptoms, both physical and mental. Although PMS has been normalized by society, a healthy menstrual cycle does NOT include pre-menstrual symptoms that disrupt your life or require medication to get through. It is important not to confuse the words “common” and “normal” – just because many women experience PMS symptoms, does not mean that it is normal! It is a sign of the pervasiveness of hormone imbalance in our population. You CAN have a happy, symptom-free period – and more importantly, you deserve to!
8. Trouble sleeping
Insomnia can be a sign hormonal dysregulation, which is why we often observe sleep disturbance in women going through perimenopause. The hormones progesterone, melatonin, cortisol and insulin all have the potential to disrupt our sleep and normal circadian rhythm (your sleep-wake cycle).
9. Infertility and pregnancy loss
Hormone imbalance is one of the most common culprits behind troubles achieving and/or maintaining pregnancy. This is because the female reproductive system is under strict hormonal control. Think of your endocrine system as an orchestra: your brain is the conductor and your hormones are the musicians. Every hormone plays a different role (or instrument) in the orchestra, and the smooth co-operation between all musicians results in a beautiful symphony! However, if someone is out of sync with the rest of the orchestra, things start to go awry quickly. When it comes to fertility, there are many musicians (or hormones) involved in the orchestra. This is why hormone testing is so essential – healthy levels of estrogen, progesterone, LH, FSH, prolactin, testosterone, DHEA, cortisol and thyroid hormones are all needed for optimal fertility!
10. Hot flashes
Are you needing to stick your head in the fridge to cool yourself off? Waking up at night drenched in sweat? Hot flashes are a common symptom of low estrogen levels, but can also be aggravated by imbalances in cortisol, insulin and thyroid hormones.
11. Anxiety and Depression
It’s not all in your head! Yes, hormones can be a cause of common mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. This is why so many women experience changes in mood after starting the birth control pill. The more we learn about hormones, the more we discover just how many organs in the body have estrogen receptors! And you can bet one of those organs is the brain. It’s no wonder changing estrogen levels can affect our moods. We’re also learning that progesterone and estrogen both influence levels of serotonin (our “happy” neurotransmitter) in the brain. In addition to estrogen and progesterone, imbalances in thyroid hormones and cortisol can also contribute to feelings of anxiety and changes in mood.
12. Digestive Issues
Bloating, constipation, diarrhea and digestive difficulty can all be signs of a hormone imbalance. Some common manifestations include pre-menstrual bloating, increasing heartburn during pregnancy and the loose stools that typically accompany your period! Hormones impact our gut health through their influence on the microbiome (the bacteria in your intestines) and the presence of hormone receptors in the digestive tract.
In my practice, I commonly work with patients suffering from imbalanced hormones. I am able to offer them a variety of testing options in order to determine their unique hormonal pattern. By treating each patient individually based on their symptoms and test results, I am able to bring their hormones back into balance naturally.
If you think you may have a hormone imbalance and are curious about natural treatment options, please feel free to reach out! We’d love to hear from you!
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