For women, the most pronounced changes come in their 40s and 50s, but can been seen as early as their mid-30s. Many more women are having hormonal symptoms earlier, which has a lot to do with not only our lifestyle and diet, but also the pollution, toxins and xenoestrogens (synthetic chemicals that act as estrogen in our bodies) that we’re exposed to every day.
What causes a hormonal imbalance?
Hormone problems are common, so you if you feel that you are experiencing a hormonal imbalance, then you are not alone. There are certain causes which can throw off your body’s natural chemistry. Common culprits are menopause, pregnancy, menstrual cycle, the contraceptive pill, and lifestyle factors such as inconsistent sleep patterns, stress a poor diet and lack of exercise. Other causes can be thyroid issues or diabetes.
Some of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalances are:
Persistent weight gain.
Yes, there are lifestyle, diet and physical activity components to maintaining a healthy weight, but that isn’t the end of the story. Many women have underlying hormonal imbalances that make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Unaddressed or emerging insulin resistance is one of the most common; small changes in diet — such as eliminating processed foods, sugars and wheat — are steps in the right direction.
Belly fat and loss of muscle mass.
When your endocrine system is under stress there’s an underproduction of certain hormones and an overproduction of others (mainly cortisol). This makes your body store fat for future use, making an increase in belly fat a clue to adrenal fatigue.
One of the most noticeable symptoms of hormonal imbalance is low libido, which starts with disturbed sleep. Without quality sleep our sex hormone production can diminish.
Can’t make it past mid-morning without some sort of pick-me-up? How about that mid-afternoon crash? It isn’t normal to feel sluggish, scattered or mentally foggy. Easy dietary changes, such as eliminating wheat and most grains, will help stabilize your blood sugar.
Anxiety, irritability and depression.
Not feeling like yourself? This isn’t the time for pharmaceuticals. Anxiety anddepression are clues that you have an imbalance, toxicity, are overworked, stressed out, and most likely aren’t nourishing your body the way it needs. Listen to your inner voice and take the actions necessary to meet your needs.
Insomnia and poor sleep patterns.
This starts the cycle of physical stress and increases cortisol levels, which directly causes many hormonal imbalances. There isn’t one area of your life that insomnia doesn’t touch.
For many women, night sweats and hot flashes are the first uncomfortable sign that something is amiss. This isn’t the time to start hormone replacement therapy, but begin a food journal by jotting down what you eat and drink, how you feel physically, and any emotions that come up after. Many times our emotions are the trigger that increases internal temperature. The next time you feel the flashes coming on, stop and think about the thoughts swirling around in your mind.
Gas, bloating and slow digestion are common hormonal problems that aren’t usually associated with hormonal imbalances, but may be associated with eating bad foods, not chewing your food and eating too much. When you don’t have optimal digestion, your body is starving because of poor nutrient extraction.
After eating way more than you should have, or having gone through half a bottle of wine, do you look back and ask yourself why? Common causes of cravings and excess eating are adrenal fatigue, insulin resistance, and other hormonal imbalances. Again, minimizing sugars, alcohol, dairy and wheat — although difficult — not only will help control cravings, but your digestive issues as well.
Many women find it hard to fall asleep mainly just before their period. This may be due to the sharp drop in the hormone progesterone just before menstruation. Progesterone levels also drop after giving birth, but then you can always blame your baby for not getting enough sleep. Progesterone has relaxing properties, so when its levels drop, It can make you feel restless cause you sleep disorders. If you want to choose a more natural approach to sleep disorders, you can read my articles about the 12 best herbs for insomnia, the best foods to get better sleep, or try this natural substance to improve sleep disorders.
A lot of women breakout before their period, due to hormonal shifts. However, if you suffer from deep, cystic acne all the time, then it could be androgens (male hormones such as testosterone) which are the culprit. Testosterone stimulates excess production of sebum (oil), which then gets trapped underneath the skin and merges with acne-causing bacteria and dead skin cells. That leads to clogged pores, pimples, and blemishes. The higher a woman’s testosterone levels, the worse the breakout. For easier cases of acne you can find here DIY face wash for acne, pimples and blackheads, or use these essential oils for acne.
Are you forgetting things? Such as where you put your purse, or what time you’re meant to meet your friend? If so, then this could be a hormonal issue. If you’ve been experiencing a high amount of stress recently, then your body will be producing high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Studies suggest that consistently high levels of cortisol can hamper your learning ability and memory. You can read myprevious article about 10 warning signs you have high cortisol level and how to lower it.
Headaches & Migraines
As women enter middle age, they often find they suffer from frequent headaches and even migraines. This could be due to hormonal imbalances around certain times of the menstrual cycle. If you are suffering from headaches and migraines, then it can be helpful to keep a diary of when they occur. This way you can work out if they occur randomly or if they seem to follow certain triggers. For more information refer to my article about top 15 causes of headaches and how to get rid of them naturally. Also read the article about top 10 natural tips and treatments to relieve migraine.
As menopause approaches, the reduction of estrogen levels causes changes to the vaginal wall. This can cause vaginal dryness, which can make sex uncomfortable. There are lubricants available which can ease your discomfort, or an intravaginal low-dose estrogen and testosterone cream – talk to your doctor about your options. Or use these natural remedies for vaginal dryness.
As women age, high levels of estrogen can make breasts feel tender and sore, which could lead to lumps, fibroids, and cysts. That’s why it is important to have annual exams and screening mammograms (but make sure you read my previous article about 5 surprising facts you didn’t know about mammograms so you are more aware about the risks versus benefits of this procedure). Get to know your breasts best, by getting into the habit of checking yourself for lumps or anything unusual. You can also get more information in my article about 5 unconventional signs of breast cancer. While not every lump or breast change indicates cancer, it’s still best to be on the safe side of things and talk to your doctor if you feel something suspicious.