There are many signs that your hormones are out of balance such as feeling bloated, irritable, or just not your best and usually a hormone imbalance could be to blame.
Hormones are chemical “messengers” that impact the way your cells and organs function. It’s normal for your levels to shift at different times of your life, such as before and during your period or a pregnancy, or during menopause. But some medications and health issues can cause them to go up or down, too.
There can be a huge variation in how often and how long you experience monthly periods. Most women’s periods come every 21 to 35 days but 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 the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone.
If you’re in your 40s or early 50s then the reason can be perimenopause, the time before menopause. But irregular periods can also a symptom of health problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) so if in doubt check with your doctor.
This one is critical for women to be aware of. An increase in oestrogen can thicken breast tissue, even causing new lumps or cysts.
Excess oestrogen is linked to increased hormonal cancers of the breast and endometrium so always report any breast changes immediately to your doctor, even if you don’t have any other symptoms that concern you.
There can be many reasons for this from stress to a poor mattress, but yet again your hormones could affecting your sleep.
Progesterone, a hormone released by your ovaries, helps you relax and improves sleep. If your levels are lower than usual, that can make it hard to fall and stay asleep.
If you are also low oestrogen then that can trigger hot flashes and night sweats, both of which can make it hard to get the rest you need.
A breakout before or during your period is normal, and certainly during adolescence is very common. 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 go into overdrive. They also affect the skin cells in and around your hair follicles so both of those things can clog your pores and cause acne.
Whatever you call it, the result is the same. You may be having difficulty remembering things or thinking as clearly as usual.
Experts aren’t sure exactly how hormones impact your brain. What they do know is that changes in oestrogen and progesterone can make your head feel ‘foggy’ and attention and memory problems are especially common during perimenopause and menopause.
But they can also be a symptom of other hormone-related conditions, like low thyroid disease. If that is the cause then progesterone can help, but ask for a blood test to check your levels.
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. If you’re having digestive woes as well as issues like acne and fatigue, your hormone levels might be off.
Are you tired all the time? Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a hormone imbalance especially if your thyroid makes too little thyroid hormone, as it can sap your energy.
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 and progesterone helps elevate mood.
You may be deficient in one, or both, hormones so check for relevant symptoms.
Appetite and weight gain
When you’re feeling blue or irritated, as you can be when your estrogen levels dip, you may want to eat more. That might be why drops in the hormone are linked to weight gain. The estrogen dip can also impact your body’s levels of leptin, a hormone that helps regulate food intake.
Lots of things can trigger these and 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.
Regular headaches or ones that often surface around the same time each month can be a clue that your levels of this hormone might be shifting.
The hormone changes that happen as women approach the menopause mean that all types of headache, including migraines, become more common.
It’s normal to have this occasionally but if it is a regular, frequent occurrence then low oestrogen may be the reason.
Oestrogen helps vaginal tissue stay moist and comfortable so your elves are low then it can reduce vaginal fluids and cause tightness. Using a combination cream with progesterone and oestrogen vaginally can really help.
Loss of libido
Again there are many reasons for this, and not all are physical. Stress, anxiety or relationship issues will all affect your libido.
Testosterone is often quoted as helpful for sex drive but supplementation with it should only be done under medical supervision due to the potential side effects.
You may not be aware of it, but women also make testosterone from progesterone and the body does this as needed. If you do have low testosterone then supplementing with progesterone can help.
If you are not sure if your hormones are in balance these articles will help you identify which hormone or hormones you may deficient in, or have too much of.