10 Signs That You Might Be Suffering From A Hormone Imbalance

Identifying Hormone Imbalance

Hormones are chemical messengers that move through the body and coordinate a range of complex processes. As they are involved in almost every function of the body, a hormone imbalance can make you feel bloated, tired, stressed and depressed. Below are ten common symptoms that may indicate a hormone imbalance.

1. Ireggular periods and bad PMS

It’s normal for our hormone levels to shift before and during a period or pregnancy, or while going through perimenopause (the period before menopause), or menopause. But if you have irregular periods, you may be suffering from a hormone imbalance. The same applies if your PMS symptoms, or the pain and bleeding you experience at the time of your period, are severe. Alternatively, you could be suffering from a condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), so it’s important that you get to the bottom of the problem by consulting a medical practitioner.

2. Sleep issues

If you have trouble getting to or staying asleep, this can be another indication of hormone imbalance. If your progesterone (a hormone released by your ovaries) levels are lower than they should be, this could make it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Meanwhile, low estrogen levels can cause hot flashes and night sweats, which can make healthy sleep more elusive. If you’re sleeping well but feel constantly fatigued, your progesterone levels may be too high or you may not be producing enough thyroid hormone.

3. Attention and memory problems

Hormone imbalance can also cause your brain to feel “foggy”. Changes to your estrogen and progesterone levels can affect your alertness and memory. Some experts believe estrogen may affect the brain’s neurotransmitters, which explains why memory and attention levels can be impacted by perimenopause and menopause. While other hormone-related conditions such as thyroid disease or adrenal issues could be the main cause, it’s worth asking your doctor if you are struggling to think clearly.

4. Digestive issues

There are many factors that could contribute to digestive issues, but as the gut is lined with tiny cells called “receptors” that respond to estrogen and progesterone, changes to our hormone levels can affect our digestion. Perhaps you’re suffering from bloating, stomach pain, nausea or diarrhea before or during your period. An integrative medical practitioner should be able to get to the root cause of your digestive issues, and if there is a link with your hormone levels, he or she may recommend some form of hormone therapy.

5. Changes to your breasts

Low estrogen levels can make your breast tissue less dense, while high levels can thicken this tissue, which can even cause lumps or cysts. If you notice changes to your breasts or experience severe pain, particularly just before or during your period, make an appointment with an integrative medical practitioner. It’s not normal for your breasts to feel tender every month before your period, so if this is a case, it’s a sign you’re having problems with estrogen metabolism.

6. Headaches

While there are many causes for headaches, some women experience headaches before or during their period, when estrogen levels are dropping. If your headaches regularly coincide with your menstrual cycle, your doctor may need to take a look at your hormone levels.

7. Chronic acne

While breakouts are fairly common during a period, severe or chronic acne may be a symptom of hormone imbalance. High levels of androgens (“male” hormones that everyone has) can cause our oil glands to work overtime. These hormones can also affect the skin cells in and around our hair follicles, causing painful acne and clogged pores.

8. Depression and mood swings

Changes to your hormone levels may cause low mood, mood swings, and even depression. Estrogen has an impact on your brain’s chemicals, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Other hormones can also affect the way we feel, so it’s worth investigating your hormone levels if you are feeling low.

9. Sex-related problems

Loss of libido and vaginal dryness have been linked to hormone imbalance. If your testosterone levels are low, you may find that you have a lower sex drive than usual. If your estrogen levels are low, your body may produce less vaginal fluid. This can cause inflammation and tightness, making sex uncomfortable or even painful. It could also lead to urinary leakage.

10. Appetite changes and weight gain

If your estrogen levels dip, you may feel like eating more than you usually would. Many women feel the need to comfort eat, as an estrogen dip can affect our leptin levels, which regulate food intake and appetite. This can lead to unexpected weight gain and even obesity.

Getting help with your hormone imbalance

It’s worth speaking to an integrative medicine practitioner if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. It might be that your condition is not related to your hormone levels, but it’s vital that you get to the root cause either way. Some medications and medical conditions can also cause our hormone levels to go up or down, so find a doctor who will look at the bigger picture.

If your estrogen levels are too high or low, you may benefit from reading another blog I’ve written, entitled ‘How to detox estrogen to best effect’.

Patricia Deckert, D.O.

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