Tired, weary, bad skin, PMS symptoms, constantly irritable? Hey, maybe your hormones are imbalanced!
Hormones are powerful chemical messengers that tell your body what to do and when. When your hormones are out of balance, you can feel the effects all over your body – whether it’s blemished skin, hair loss, insomnia, or mood swings.
But usually, you can naturally regulate and rebalance your hormones to successfully combat the symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
This article is for information about hormonal imbalance. It is not intended to be a diagnosis. If you suspect that you are suffering from hormonal imbalance, please talk to your doctor or gynecologist.
- Hormones and Your Health
- How Hormones Work In The Female Body
- Estrogen, Testosterone, Progesterone, And Cortisol
- What Happens When You Have A Hormonal Imbalance?
- These Are Typical Triggers Of “Permanent Stress” In Our Everyday Lives
- What Are The Consequences Of Chronic Stress?
- What Are The Signs Of Hormonal Imbalance?
- 7 Symptoms And Signs Of Hormonal Imbalances
- Hormonal Changes According To The Woman’s Age
- What To Do When Faced With Hormonal Changes
- 8 Foods That Can Regulate Hormones
- Tips to Reduce the Effects of Hormonal Changes
- Signs You Might Have a Hormone Imbalance – Video
- Regulate Your Hormone Balance – FAQ
Hormones influence among other things:
- your sleep;
- your appetite;
- your metabolism;
- your heart rate;
- your mood;
- your fertility;
- your libido.
Your hormones are made in different places in your body, such as your:
- your thyroid gland;
- your adrenal glands;
- your brain;
- your pancreas;
- your intestines;
- your adipose tissue.
Hormones are produced and regulated by a complex interaction of different processes and organs. When one of the organs is affected, a hormone imbalance can occur.
Many different things can affect the health of your organs and hormone balance. If you identify and correct the causes of your hormonal imbalance early, you can maintain your health and prevent chronic disease.
Possible causes of hormonal imbalance:
- Chronic stress.
- Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).
- Contraceptive pill.
- Improper diet.
- Poor intestinal health.
- Endocrine disruptors are substances that affect your hormone system.
- Severe obesity.
- And much more.
A number of hormones flood your body every second, performing numerous important tasks. They talk to all our organs and stimulate exciting processes there. Hormones not only take care of the female cycle, they also make us empathic and provide feelings of closeness and connection. They help us to be energetic and focused on our projects. When we are hungry, they signal us to eat. They also tell us when we are full so we don’t eat too much. They control our fertility, our desire for sex, and our response to stress.
There are hundreds of different hormones circulating through your body throughout the day. You probably already know some familiar ones, such as insulin, melatonin (the “sleep hormone”), and serotonin (the “happiness hormone”). You’re also probably familiar with these hormones:
- Estrogen – the female sex hormone, which, by the way, men also produce in small amounts,
- Testosterone – the male sex hormone, which – yes – we women also produce,
- Progesterone – is an important player in the menstrual cycle, and
- Cortisol – the “stress hormone”.
Estrogen is like the queen of the first part of our cycle. As the egg grows, estrogen rules. You can think of it like Beyonce. That’s because estrogen makes us feel beautiful, strong, confident, and sexy (“Who runs the world? Girls.”). Estrogen signals fertility and puts that hip swing in your walk. During the first phase of your cycle until ovulation, you just feel good and confident. This is a super time to learn something new or make creative decisions.
Testosterone gives you that drive you need when you want to accomplish something. It makes you more aggressive and decisive. Testosterone promotes muscle growth and increases the desire for sex. Just before ovulation, the amount of testosterone in your body increases to get you to find a partner and get going (if you know what I mean).
Progesterone reigns in the second half of your cycle and then slowly decreases until menstruation when you are not pregnant. Progesterone provides blood flow to the uterus and maintains pregnancy. It makes you more emotional and empathetic. In the second half of the cycle after ovulation, you want to be home more and get cozy.
So progesterone makes you more comfortable and it keeps you safe. Because in the second half of the cycle, you tend to have less of a desire for gnarly athletic experiences or risks. That’s a good thing because it keeps you safe in case you got pregnant. During this phase, you’re very good at working through tasks and checking off to-do lists.
Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. This is because we secrete it more in stressful situations. It is a very important hormone that is produced in our adrenal glands. You can think of the adrenal glands as two little hats the size of walnuts sitting on top of the kidneys. Together with adrenaline, cortisol activates the “fight or flight mode.”
You can think of it like this:
You’re walking home alone at night and notice someone chasing you. This could be a dangerous situation. So your adrenaline and cortisol levels rise dramatically. Immediately, energy is made available and other processes in the body – not so important at that moment – are shut down. Your heartbeat speeds up and blood flows to your arms and legs so you can fight (“fight”) or flee (“flight”). Thanks to the activated Fight or Flight mode you can mobilize enormous forces. This is essential for survival in this acute stress situation.
After the stressful situation has passed, the parasympathetic nervous system ensures that we relax again. The heartbeat slows down, blood pressure drops again and the other bodily processes function optimally once more.
Our hormones work together harmoniously like a large orchestra. They all work together and must be in a fine balance so that we feel well and can work efficiently, fit and concentrate. We need this hormonal balance so that all processes in the body function optimally. But what happens when one hormone gets out of line?
In short, you don’t feel well.
When one hormone is out of line, it affects all the other hormones.
Just like in an orchestra: if one player plays wrong, you hear it and the other players are disturbed by it.
Nowadays, the stress hormone level (cortisol) in particular is constantly elevated. This is because we are exposed to a constant flood of stimuli and have much more stress than in the past. These are not so much acute stress situations, like the one described above, but rather chronic stress. But what does this mean for your body?
Let’s think back to the person chasing you. The sympathetic nervous system ramps up your heartbeat and your cortisol levels rise. This is followed by increased blood pressure and increased blood flow to your arms and legs. “Unimportant” processes are shut down. After all, if we’re running away from a dangerous person, it’s not the optimal time for a leisurely meal or sex. That’s why blood goes away from the digestive and reproductive organs. In an acutely stressful situation, it’s all about naked survival.
The problem is this: In our stressful daily lives, we are not dealing with short, acute stressful situations. Rather, we feel stressed all the time and the all-important “relaxation phase” after the stressful situation does not occur.
Endless to-do lists and deadline pressure.
Pressure you put on yourself: making too high demands on yourself, constantly comparing yourself to others (be it at work, with friends, or with “successful” people on Instagram)
- Emotional stress: feeling like you’re not enough, feelings of guilt.
- Physical stress: blatant dieting, unhealthy eating, lack of sleep, environmental toxins, overtraining.
Cortisol levels remain elevated and the following problems occur:
- the blood pressure rises;
- the blood goes away from digestion and reproductive organs (reproduction);
- digestion becomes worse;
- detoxification becomes worse;
- metabolism changes;
- the body is in “survival mode”.
Permanent stress can cause us to suffer from a bloated belly, poor digestion, heartburn, and stress literally hitting us in the stomach.
In addition, chronic stress can affect our fertility. This is because, in a survival situation, the body is less focused on reproduction. As a result, estrogen and progesterone can become out of balance. In stressful situations, the length of the cycle fluctuates or the period sometimes stops completely. It can be more difficult to get pregnant.
Permanent stress leads to hormonal chaos.
There are many different signs of unhealthy stress hormone levels and hormone imbalances.
Unhealthy cortisol levels are too low in the morning. We actually have our highest cortisol levels in the morning so we can open our eyes after sleep and start the day full of energy. If our cortisol levels are too low in the morning, we can barely get out of bed or have to hit the snooze button three or four times on the alarm clock.
During the day, normal cortisol levels drop with small rises until they are low enough at night that we can pass out and fall asleep. You can imagine a healthy cortisol curve like a ski slope.
If your cortisol levels are out of whack, you’ll notice it, for example, by not being able to fall asleep in the evening and also not being able to pass out well. You are hyperactive or your thoughts are occupied with problems while you are lying in bed. You also have moments during the day when your blood pressure spikes and you may start to sweat. Or you have such a severe drop in energy in between that you have cravings and can’t get through the day without a cookie and 3 espressos.
These typical symptoms suggest that your hormones may be out of their natural balance.
1. Skin and Hair Changes
Suddenly get acne? A sudden appearance of acne or a worsening of your bad skin is typical of a hormonal imbalance. Typical culprits of hormonal acne are androgens. Androgens are called “male hormones.” However, they also occur in us women. They regulate the sebum production of the skin. An excess of androgens can cause the skin to produce too much sebum and clog pores. Then pimples appear on the face or back. If you suddenly get acne at 30 or acne at 40, a hormonal imbalance could be to blame.
Hair loss as a woman… Terrible! The quality of your hair is directly related to your hormones. Disorders with your adrenal glands or problems with your thyroid gland can lead to hair loss. For example, hypothyroidism can cause dry, thin hair or brittle nails. But hyperthyroidism can also cause hair loss.
2. Premenstrual Syndrome and Low Libido
Could you also hit the roof when your boyfriend asks, “Is it that time of the month again? You seem so irritable.” He may have a point. After all, disruptions in estrogen balance can lead to emotional outbursts and irritability. Then, in the week leading up to your period, you experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS for short) – with symptoms like mood swings, tender breasts, water retention, and feeling bloated.
Low testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone levels can simply make you feel less like having sex. Decreased desire for sex is quite typical of a hormonal imbalance. This is especially common in women over the age of 50 when the production of estrogens and testosterone decreases.
3. Tiredness and Fatigue
Everyone is tired at times. This is quite normal. But with a good night’s sleep, enough drinking, and a healthy diet, you should feel fit and energetic again the next day.
Do you feel like you’re always tired? Then maybe you should have your hormones checked. Possible causes are problems with the adrenal glands or an underactive thyroid, in addition to poor sleep quality.
4. Weight Gain or Difficulty Losing Weight
Possible causes of unwanted weight gain or difficulty losing weight: Hypothyroidism or chronic stress.
Let’s consider the issue of stress:
Do you feel like you’re actually barely eating or eating very healthfully? Yet you have that “life ring” on your belly and hips. This is quite typical of too much negative stress. When your body is constantly stressed, it switches into “fight or flight” mode and produces a lot of cortisol, our stress hormone.
Cortisol makes it hard for you to lose weight and also causes you to accumulate fat on your stomach.
5. Digestive Problems
On one hand, hormones are produced in the intestines, on the other hand, hormones also affect the intestines. Hormone imbalance can affect the movement of the intestines and also change the bacteria population (our gut flora aka your intestinal microbiome). This can lead to symptoms such as soft stools, bloating, or flatulence.
For example, 90 percent of serotonin, the happiness hormone, is produced in the gut. When gut health is compromised, it can affect mood because, for example, less serotonin is produced.
Also exciting: in the brain, we have receptors for estrogen. Low estrogen levels correlate with more anxious responses. Studies have shown that higher estrogen levels led to lower anxious reactions when subjects were stimulated with fear-inducing scenarios.
This is particularly interesting because we women are exposed to changes in estrogen levels during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. These fluctuations may influence the course of depression.
7. Sleep Problems
The release of hormones such as melatonin and cortisol is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin acts on the part of the brain that controls our circadian rhythm, allowing us to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. An inability to secrete melatonin or too little melatonin can lead to difficulty falling asleep. Also, if your cortisol levels are too high, you could have trouble falling asleep and feel hyper and exhausted at the same time in the evening.
Incidentally, up to 40 percent of women in perimenopause, the stage when the body is approaching menopause, report sleep disturbances, such as waking up in a sweat in the middle of the night.
Hormonal Changes in Women 30-35 Years of Age
Hormones play an important role throughout a woman’s life cycle, but mainly from her adolescence until the onset of menopause. From the age of 30-35, hormonal imbalances in women produce a greater tendency to gain weight, to lose muscle mass which leads to flaccidity, loss of skin elasticity, and a greater probability of suffering osteoporosis, since bone mass is also lost.
Hormonal Changes in Women in Their 40s
From the age of 40 onwards, women experience a series of changes that lead to premenopause and menopause, and which extend to around 54 years of age. It is then that the symptoms of premenopause appear when the woman begins to suffer alterations in the menstrual period. This initial period gives way to menstruation when hormonal changes cause menstruation to cease.
First of all, it is important to know that the appearance of symptoms indicating hormonal problems is inevitable. To a greater or lesser extent, they will appear in women, and although their impact can be reduced, in the end, they all lead to menopause. However, a series of recommendations can be followed to help prevent and combat hormonal problems.
Soy products like tofu can help balance our hormone levels. This is because they are rich in isoflavones, which are one of the so-called phytoestrogens. Soybeans and the foods produced from them can help alleviate menopausal symptoms, for example.
Fruits with little sugar, especially berries, contain both estrogen and progesterone and can thus compensate for the lack of these hormones during menopause, for example. In addition, blueberries, raspberries, and co. are rich in antioxidants that shield our cells from harmful free radicals.
3. Fermented Foods
Sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt and co. contain many healthy nutrients and have a positive effect on digestion. Thus, they not only keep our intestines healthy but also have a positive effect on hormone production there – such as that of the happiness hormone serotonin.
Green leafy vegetables like spinach are known to be rich in iron. But iron not only provides our muscles with oxygen and our immune system with vitamin C, but it also keeps our hormone balance stable. Many hormonal problems are due to iron deficiency.
Flax seeds are a true superfood. They are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, as well as the phytochemicals lignans, which regulate estrogen levels. For example, they can help protect against breast cancer.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale regulate estrogen production through the secondary plant compound indole-3-carbinol. In addition, they have an antioxidant effect, thus protecting our cells from harmful free radicals.
Ginger stimulates metabolism as well as fat digestion. In addition, the root reduces the harmful xenoestrogens that we ingest, for example, by consuming plastic through packaging residues in food. Ginger can thus help balance estrogen levels and protect against cancer.
Walnuts contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which in turn are a natural source of the sleep hormone melatonin. So on a hormonal level, walnuts can help us get a good night’s sleep.
Physical activity. Fundamental to promote blood circulation, strengthen muscles, bones, and joints, reduce fluid retention, relieve stress, promote the release of endorphins, and other benefits that help keep the effects of hormonal imbalances at bay.
- Balanced diet. As we had explained in one of the previous points, food can be one of the causes of hormonal problems. Therefore, we must follow a varied and balanced diet, rich in nutrients and low in unhealthy fats.
- Visit the doctor. It is essential to visit the doctor at least once a year for a check-up. A medical check-up can detect thyroid problems, an alteration that requires medical intervention to be cured.
This article is merely informative. We do not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatment or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.
Signs You Might Have a Hormone Imbalance - Video
Regulate Your Hormone Balance - FAQ
Natural ways to balance your hormone levels:
- Getting enough sleep.
- Balancing your hormones with exercise.
- Avoid prolonged endurance training.
- Balance hormone levels with antioxidants.
- More fiber.
- Stress reduction.
- Pay attention to healthy gut flora.
To make life with your hormones easier overall, it’s best to avoid frequent consumption of processed foods, refined sugar, simple carbohydrates, foods that cause inflammation (such as gluten), dairy products and alcohol.
Estrogen is closely related to serotonin, and serotonin produces melatonin. Melatonin is the main sleep hormone. This means that if you sleep less and feel tired, you may have low estrogen levels.