Hormone Imbalances in Women: 6 Signs to Look For
Hormones are chemical messengers for your body. Produced by the endocrine system, these molecules are secreted directly into your blood and carried to tissues and organs. They help regulate various bodily processes, including metabolism, blood pressure, mood, sleep cycles, and sexual characteristics.
When your hormones are imbalanced, they can have a serious effect throughout your body and cause a range of unwanted symptoms. Want to know more about the signs of hormone imbalances to look out for? Keep reading to find out.
What Is a Hormone Imbalance?
A hormone imbalance occurs when you either have too much or too little of a certain hormone, such as cortisol, insulin, estrogen, or progesterone. Because hormones play such an important role in your body, even small hormonal imbalances can cause significant side effects.
What Causes A Hormone Imbalance?
There are many possible causes of hormone imbalances in women. Hormones can fluctuate during a woman’s monthly cycle, which explains the varying symptoms women get during different times of the month. Additionally, it is natural to experience periods of hormonal imbalance at certain points in your life, like during pregnancy or menopause, but this condition can also occur when your endocrine glands are not functioning properly.
Medications, medical conditions, lifestyle habits, and environmental factors may also cause hormone imbalances. These can include:
Injury or trauma
6 Symptoms and Signs of a Hormone Imbalance
Now that you are familiar with what a hormone imbalance is and the common causes behind it, let’s explore the signs and symptoms you should look out for.
1. Extreme Fatigue
It is normal to sometimes feel fatigued, especially if you live a busy on-the-go lifestyle. However, if you are constantly feeling depleted, that could be a sign of low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism). Extreme fatigue can also be caused by an imbalance in your progesterone levels.
2. Digestive Issues
The female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone affect the cells lining the gastrointestinal tract. As levels of hormones change during a woman’s menstrual cycle, they directly impact the function of the gastrointestinal system. This is why you may experience abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and/or nausea either before or during your periods.
The impact of these hormones on the gut may also explain why irritable bowel syndrome is more common in women than men.
3. Poor Sleep
Not being able to get a good night’s sleep is something many women struggle with, but beyond causing you to feel tired throughout the day, it can also be indicative of a larger problem at hand. Low levels of progesterone, a compound released by the ovaries, can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep.
For women experiencing perimenopause and menopause, their sleep may be interrupted due to night sweats, which are hot flashes that happen during sleep. Hot flashes occur due to low estrogen levels.
4. Persistent Acne
If you are experiencing chronic acne that will not go away, that may be a sign of excess androgens, such as testosterone. Androgens are male hormones that appear in both men and women. When there are excess levels of these hormones, sebaceous glands secrete more oil and skin cells that line hair follicles are affected, which can ultimately lead to clogged pores.
High androgen levels have also been linked to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
5. Weight Distribution Changes
An excessive amount of weight gain around the abdomen area can be indicative of high levels of cortisol, estrogen, and insulin and low levels of thyroxine. This imbalance of hormones makes weight loss extremely difficult. Having weight concentrated in your abdomen area is particularly concerning as it can increase a woman’s risk of cardiovascular disease.
6. Decreased Sex Drive
Having a low sex drive can be caused by several factors, such as stress, mental health issues, and prior negative experiences. If you are experiencing a decreased sex drive, you should also consider the role that your hormones may be playing in the matter. Even though testosterone is usually thought of as a male hormone, women have it as well, and low levels of this hormone can be a cause of decreased libido.
Other symptoms of a hormonal imbalance may include:
Loss of muscle mass
Pain and swelling in the joints
Irritability and mood swings
Hyperpigmentation of the skin
These are the common signs of hormonal imbalance that every woman should be aware of! If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should consult with your healthcare provider to confirm that you do, in fact, have a hormone imbalance and find the right course of treatment.
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