5 Reasons Your Hormones Might Not Be Balanced
Dr. Ashley Margeson
Our hormones affect every single part of our bodies. From how our periods act, to how well our brains focus to our weight. Yes. That. When our hormones are balanced and working for us, we generally don’t notice it. Our system is stable, we have a semi-regular cycle, our brain is able to focus and we have energy. But when our hormones are unstable? These 5 symptoms might make you want to dive into your hormones a bit more.
The female sex hormone estrogen has an effect on neurotransmitters in the brain including serotonin (a chemical that boosts mood). Fluctuations in estrogen can cause premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or depressed mood during the perimenopause (the phase before periods stop completely) and the menopause.
If feeling low or anxious interferes significantly with your day-to-day life, then dietary and lifestyle changes, such as taking up exercise, drinking less alcohol and quitting smoking and herbal supports like adaptogens can lead to changes in your mood. Keeping a symptom diary will also help you and your doctor identify if hormonal changes could be to blame (such as with PMDD!)
HEAVY OR PAINFUL PERIODS
If accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal pain, a frequent need to urinate, lower back pain, constipation and painful intercourse, then you may have fibroids. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in or around the womb. The exact cause is unknown although they are thought to be stimulated by estrogen while having a family history may also increase your risk. Heavy periods can also be a sign of endometriosis or adenomyosis as well. Chat with your medical provider and get a vaginal ultrasound to rule out a fibroid, and then work on decreasing the prostaglandins that can worsen endometriosis and adenomyosis .
UNEXPLAINED WEIGHT GAIN
A number of hormone-related conditions can cause weight gain including an underactive thyroid (when your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones which regulate metabolism), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (a hormone-related problem causing small cysts on the ovaries) and menopause (which results in hormonal changes that can make you more likely to gain weight around your abdomen).
If you are experiencing unexplained weight gain, with no change in diet or exercise levels, you may wish to consult an expert in women’s health to check for conditions such as thyroid problems or ovarian cysts. If you are going through the menopause, the conversation changes to supporting the estrogen and progesterone relationship at this point.
Insomnia can be linked to a dysregulated hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis, which is your central stress response system, where your endocrine system and central nervous system interact. It’s also responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle through the release of hormones, such as melatonin and cortisol. Melatonin works 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 may result in difficulty falling asleep or adjusting to a new sleep pattern. Similarly, when your cortisol levels are too high in the evening, you may have trouble falling asleep and feel wired but tired in the evening.
40 percent of women going through perimenopause, the phase in which your body is nearing menopause, also report sleep disturbances, such as waking up in the middle of the night with chills and drenched in sweat.
There are more neurotransmitters in the gut than there are in the brain, so it should be no surprise that anxiety and depression are sometimes accompanied by digestive symptoms. Hormones influence gut function through the microbiome and bacterial system in our intestines, so a hormone imbalance can impact the population and function of the bacteria in your gut, leading to symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, or nausea.
Harness Your Hormones
Grab our Hormone Optimization guide to make you more productive in chasing your goals.
And maybe ditch the PMS… or at least get some actionable tools