From puberty to post menopause women are vulnerable to hormonal fluctuations. If you are feeling bloated, irritable, or just not at your best then a hormone imbalance could be to blame.
Hormones are chemical “messengers” that impact the way your cells and organs function and although it’s normal for your levels to shift at different times of your life there are some medications and health issues can cause them to go up or down, too.
1 Irregular Periods
Most women’s periods come every 21 to 35 days. If yours doesn’t arrive around the same time every month, or you skip some months, it might mean that you have too much or too little of oestrogen and progesterone. But irregular periods can also be a symptom of health problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
This can be helped by diet and supplementing with bioidentical progesterone, but always best to speak to your doctor as well.
If you’re in your 40s or early 50s — the reason can be perimenopause — the time before menopause as your body is gradually releasing fewer eggs. There are quite a few signs of perimenopause so check them here.
2 Sleep Problems
A good nigh’s sleep is essential for our overall health, it’s when the body repairs and restores itself, but if you aren’t getting enough sleep – or what you do get isn’t good – then your hormones could be the reason.
Progesterone is the hormone that relaxes you and helps you sleep. If your levels are lower than usual, that can make it hard to fall and stay asleep.
Low oestrogen can trigger hot flushes and night sweats, both of which can make it tough to get the rest you need.
A breakout before or during your period is normal. But acne that won’t clear up can be a symptom of hormone problems. An excess of androgens (“male” hormones that both men and women have) can cause your oil glands to overwork. Androgens also affect the skin cells in and around your hair follicles. Both of those things can clog your pores and cause acne.
Unfortunately it is not confined to the teenage years as women often find they are having a break out at peri and menopause.
4 Brain Fog
Experts aren’t sure exactly how hormones impact your brain, but it is certain that changes in oestrogen and progesterone can make your head feel “foggy” and make it harder for you to remember things.
If it is hormone related then supplementing can help, there are many specialist vitamin compounds as well as bioidentical hormones, but if this persists it is sensible to speak to your doctor. Brain fog can also relate to other conditions such as thyroid disease.
5 Stomach Problems
Your gut is lined with tiny cells called receptors that respond to oestrogen and progesterone. When these hormones are higher or lower than usual, you might notice changes in how you’re digesting food. That’s why diarrhoea, stomach pain, bloating, and nausea can crop up or get worse before and during your period.
Bloating can also relate to oestrogen dominance and progesterone can help by acting as a diuretic to help you lose the fluid, and the weight.
6 Ongoing Tiredness
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a hormone imbalance. If you are making too little thyroid hormone then that can sap your energy.
A simple blood test can establish if that is the case and you may be given thyroid medication and progesterone also helps support thyroid function.
7 Mood Swings and Depression
Researchers think drops in hormones or fast changes in their levels can cause moodiness and the blues. Oestrogen affects key brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. But other hormones, that travel the same paths as neurotransmitters, also play a part in how you feel.
Progesterone can help make you feel calmer but a combination of progesterone and oestrogen is more effective for severe mood swings, anxiety and depression.
Lots of things can trigger these including diet, but for some women, drops in oestrogen bring them on. That’s why it’s common for headaches to strike right before or during your period, when oestrogen is on the decline.
But for other women it is also related to low thyroid, so again worth talking to your doctor to establish what is causing it.
9 Vaginal Dryness
It’s normal to have this occasionally but if it is happening frequently then it is usually low oestrogen that is the reason.
This hormone helps vaginal tissue stay moist and comfortable so if your level drops because of an imbalance, it can reduce vaginal fluids and cause tightness.
10 Loss of Libido
|There are many reasons women may lose interest in sex, but progesterone is the hormone behind sex drive in women and the precursor for testosterone. If your testosterone levels are lower than usual, you might have less of an interest in sex than you usually do.
11 Breast Changes
Oestrogen is the hormone behind such changes: a drop in oestrogen can make your breast tissue less dense and and an increase in the hormone can thicken this tissue, even causing new lumps or cysts.
Excess oestrogen is also related to increased breast cancer risk so always check your breasts, and talk to your doctor if you notice changes, even if you don’t have any other symptoms that concern you.