When you hear the words hormonal imbalance, you probably think of irritable, menopausal women having hot flashes. What you may not realize is that hormonal imbalances can occur at any age.
Hormones act like messengers in the body. They are used by the brain to signal other glands and organs in your body to perform various functions. If a single hormone level is higher or lower than it should be, the body can undergo a butterfly effect as systemic hormone imbalance can occur.
Typically, in young and healthy women, the body can produce the right amount of each hormone to maintain your body in homeostasis, a state of balance and stability. As women age, this changes as the tissue that produces hormones may no longer function appropriately, which leads to a hormonal imbalance.
Given that our life expectancy has doubled over the last 100 years, making our bodies produce hormones longer than ever in combination with a woman’s stressful lifestyle, worsening nutrition and lack of exercise, women commonly are affected by the following symptoms of hormonal imbalance:
These are common symptoms of menopause-related hormonal imbalance, when a woman’s body produces less estrogen and progesterone. Women may complain of feeling warm in the face, neck and/or chest. Sweating may or may not be present.
Women suffering from night sweats can also face issues with sleep, fatigue and feeling stressed or tense.
Although there are diet, activity and lifestyle components to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, many women find it difficult to do so due to underlying hormonal imbalances. One of the most common culprits is undiagnosed or emerging insulin resistance. Women can make dietary changes to counter-affect this, such as eliminating sugars, processed foods and wheat in their diets.
When a woman’s levels of progesterone decline, she may experience poor sleeping patterns or difficulty falling asleep. This is because sleep is induced by hormones. Low estrogen levels also play a part in this as hot flashes and night sweats can make sleep difficult and also cause a woman to be more influenced by her environment.
Decreased Sex Drive
A low sex drive is one of the most noticeable symptoms of hormonal imbalance. The issue begins with trouble sleeping, and without enough restful sleep, a woman’s sex hormone productions can decrease.
Most often caused by a hormone imbalance, these symptoms of dysfunctional uterine bleeding (DUB) are most common in teenagers due to changes in birth control pills or hormone medications or women approaching menopause.
Memory Loss or Brain Fog
There are many potential causes of memory loss and brain fog, such as thyroid dysfunction, adrenal fatigue, sleep deprivation, stress and hormonal imbalances. In the case of hormonal imbalances, low levels of estrogen can directly affect neurotransmitters. Our mood, stress level, ability to think and memory are then affected, which can result in short-term memory issues in women.
Women can experience headaches due to fluctuations in estrogen, a hormone that controls the brain chemicals that cause or relieve the perception of pain.
This symptom can be very uncomfortable for many and interfere with a healthy sex life. Decreased estrogen levels may play a factor in women nearing or experiencing menopause. This vaginal discomfort is best relieved with a water-based lubricant.
There is a strong connection between changes in emotion and fluctuating hormone levels. Serotonin is a chemical that helps regulate mood. When a woman’s serotonin level is high, she is in a better mood. And, when serotonin levels are decreased, this leads to worsening moods. This can be seen due to hormonal imbalance resulting from menopause as the hormones that trigger ovulation and menstruation also help with the release of serotonin.
Research has also confirmed a link between depression and the bothersome symptoms of perimenopause, such as sleep disruption and hot flashes. Although the chemical changes that occur during menopause don’t seem to increase depression risk, the major life changes associated with menopause in middle aged women can increase this risk.
Decreasing estrogen levels can affect a woman’s skin in many ways. The skin can become dry and less elastic. In the breasts, this can be seen as a loss of firmness or fullness, evoking a need for new bras of a different cup size.
These symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women can be indicative of conditions such as menopause, perimenopause, post menopause, surgical menopause, adrenal fatigue or thyroid health. Getting tested by a highly-trained hormone doctor is one of the best solutions for relief of these life-altering symptoms. Once your results are known, your doctor can offer you a variety of treatment options to get you back to your happier, healthier self.
In the meantime, there are some diet, exercise and lifestyle changes that can be made to self-treat these symptoms. These include smoking cessation, limiting caffeine, getting adequate exercise, wearing layers of clothing and getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D.