We use the word hormonal imbalance freely nowadays. We use the word hormonal imbalance for most medical conditions. But the reality is that hormonal imbalances can cause stress, frustration, irritation, and just so many troubles. When our hormones are in flux, we feel angry, tired, moody, emotional, and so on. And that doesn’t even begin to describe the trouble we get from an outbreak of acne! Women know way too well what problems hormonal imbalances can cause.
There are many symptoms of an hormonal imbalance, but we often ignore them. The next time you ignore one of these signs, think of this for a moment: an hormonal imbalance can directly affect your chance of becoming pregnant. An hormonal imbalance also affects sexual desire and much more.
With that in mind, what are hormones? They are produced by glands in the body and control many functions in our body. From simple needs like hunger and sleep to complex functions like controlling the reproductive system, hormones are an essential part of our body. When you understand what causes changes in your hormones, you can easily take care of your health. One example is the adrenal glands and the hormone cortisol. The glands produce cortisol, a hormone connected with your stress response. But the problem is that high levels of cortisol can affect your menstrual cycle and sex drive.
Causes of an hormonal imbalance
Hormones work together on a daily basis to produce perfect harmony and balance. When your hormones are in balance, your body thrives. But there are always ups and downs when it comes to female hormones.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a common cause of hormonal imbalances, as are menopause and pregnancy. But there are also other lifestyle factors that can cause hormonal imbalances, like not getting enough exercise, being overweight, lack of sleep, and so on. From a medical standpoint, an underactive thyroid will cause hormone fluctuations, as it doesn’t produce enough thyroxine.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the signs and symptoms of an hormonal imbalance. When you know the signs, you can address the problem and the cause.
Falling asleep can be difficult when you have high levels of progesterone. This happens just before your period, and it’s the main reason why some women have trouble sleeping before their cycle. Progesterone is a hormone that helps with sleep patterns.
You can also experience problems sleeping after childbirth because estrogen and progesterone levels drop. Post-natal depression is a common result of difficulty sleeping after childbirth.
All women (and all men) know that hormonal imbalances can cause mood swings. Women know they are moody before and during their period, and men have also witnessed this. Because of hormonal imbalances and mood swings, your anxiety might be greater just before your period.
Again, estrogen is to blame. The levels of this hormone fluctuate during the reproductive cycle, and women with low estrogen levels are prone to feeling emotional stress. During menopause, when you go through a sudden decrease in hormone production, mood swings are even more irritating and challenging to control.
Persistent weight gain
Hormones are closely related to your weight. Because of that, it’s logical to expect weight gain when your hormones are not in balance. Belly fat is another side effect. And when you suffer from an hormonal imbalance, it’s very hard and challenging to lose weight.
And the problem gets even more challenging. Extra belly fat will further disrupt your hormones. The vicious cycle is hard to break because excess fat produces more hormones that affect your health. One way to change the cycle is to consume foods that can help you lose that belly fat.
Loss of muscle mass
Being overweight and loss of muscle mass go hand in hand. Growth hormones help you build muscle mass. However, the lack of certain hormones due to an imbalance makes it difficult to keep your muscles strong.
The pituitary gland is the one responsible for producing growth hormones. They interact with insulin and affect muscle mass.
We said at the beginning that mood swings and acne can pop up when your hormones are not in balance. Regular outbreaks of acne are strongly associated with hormonal imbalance (which is why teenagers often get acne). It’s also the reason why women, before their period, get acne popping up here and there.
The reason for acne outbursts is low levels of androgen hormones.
Another common sign of hormonal imbalance is irregular and excessive sweating. There are hormones that are responsible for controlling your body’s temperature. But when they are off balance, your temperature might go up and you sweat more.
In this case, your temperature isn’t going up because of a fever or cold. It goes up because of an hormonal imbalance.
Another sign of an hormonal imbalance is frequent hunger pangs. You probably know that there are hormones in your body that control appetite and hunger. When these hormones aren’t in balance, food cravings are common, leading to excess pounds. Remember when we said it’s a vicious cycle? Well, here’s more proof.
The two hormones that balance hunger are leptin and ghrelin. The former decreases your appetite after a meal, while the latter increases appetite and can make you feel hungry. Another factor is lack of sleep. As mentioned previously, you might have trouble sleeping because of an hormonal imbalance, which then leads to hunger cravings and pangs.
Because you’re having cravings, pangs, and not eating regularly, digestive problems often result. Stress is another problem that can cause digestive problems. Many women experience nausea, vomiting, bloating, and even diarrhea due to stress, and it all comes down to the imbalance in your hormones. You might notice your stomach starts churning in stressful situations.
One of the reasons why you might keep forgetting where you’ve put things is hormonal fluctuations. When your hormone levels drop, especially during and after menopause, memory fog and confusion are common side effects. Stress hormones affect the brain as well, and can cause memory impairment.
It’s normal to feel tired from time to time. We all feel fatigued on occasion. However, if you constantly feel tired, check your hormones. Or to be precise, your thyroid hormone thyroxin. Other changes in hormonal balance can cause lack of sleep, stress, and similar fatigue factors.
Hot flashes and night sweats
Hot flashes are usually associated with menopause, a period in which women experience heavy hormonal imbalance. To put it simply, hormones go off the rail during menopause. These hot flashes are one of the most common reasons women visit their physician during menopause. They can affect quality of sleep, but also cause depression.
Estrogen is the hormone responsible for these flashes. Estrogen imbalance causes intense feeling of flushing and warmth in the face, chest, and other parts of the body.
Headaches and migraine
During the menstrual cycle, women experience headaches and migraines due to fluctuations in their hormones. Hormone headaches can be eased when your estrogen levels are stable and balanced.
Many of the symptoms on this list are closely linked with estrogen production. Vaginal dryness falls into that category as well. Estrogen production will cause changes in the vaginal wall that may cause dryness of the genitals. It will make sex uncomfortable and painful, and also cause itching. Estrogen keeps the vagina moist. The hormone also maintains the thickness of the lining.
Lumpy breasts that feel tender and sore to the touch are another symptom of hormonal imbalance. Lumps are also caused by hormonal fluctuations. These lumps manifest as cysts or fibroids and are harmless. But you should always check when you feel a lump in your breast.
During menopause, women develop larger breasts, or their breasts sag due to a drop in hormone levels. The breast tissue is less dense and fatty, resulting in saggy breasts.
Low sex drive
Ovaries produce sex hormones. An imbalance in the hormones will affect your desire for sexual intercourse. Two important hormones for sex drive are estrogen and progesterone. The first one is associated with increased sex drive, while the latter with reduced desire for intimacy. Fluctuations in these two hormones will affect your libido in many ways.