Your hormones affect many of your body’s functions and they 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.
These are some of the common signs of a hormone imbalance.
It is not unusual for women to gain a few pounds during their cycle due to oestrogen’s ability to retain fluid. This trend is not constant but it follows a pattern in line with your cycle.
During perimenopause oestrogen levels still fluctuate, but over longer periods of time. Your ovaries release fewer hormones and your body starts to lose its ability to regulate oestrogen making bloating more chronic.
Also as your ovaries cease production of oestrogen the body starts to produce oestrogen in the fat cells of the stomach, abdomen and thighs which is what women may first notice as a perimenopause sign.
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 the main hormones in women: oestrogen and progesterone.
If you’re in your 40s or early 50s then the reason can be perimenopause but irregular periods can be a symptom of health problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
If you aren’t getting enough, or if the sleep you get isn’t good, your hormones could be at play.
Progesterone, a hormone released by your ovaries, helps you relax and sleep. If your levels are lower than usual, that can make it hard to fall and stay asleep.
Unfortunately at menopause the hot flushes and night sweats can make it tough to get the rest you need and if severe you may need a little oestrogen so a combination cream with both hormones such as 20-1 would be better.
A breakout before or during your period is normal. But acne that won’t clear up can be a symptom of hormone problems and is certainly. not restricted to your teenage years.
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 and rebalancing with progesterone can help.
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 make it harder for you to remember things.
Attention and memory problems are especially common during perimenopause and menopause. But they can also be a symptom of other hormone-related conditions, like thyroid disease so always check with your doctor.
Your gut is lined with tiny cells called receptors that respond to both 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. If your thyroid makes too little thyroid hormone, it can sap your energy.
A simple blood test called a thyroid panel can tell you if your levels are too low and as progesterone supports thyroid function it is helpful to supplement if needed and can be used alongside thyroid medication
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. A combined cream with both hormones can be helpful and your diet also has an impact too.
Lots of things can trigger these. 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.
At perimenopause regular headaches or ones that often surface around the same time each month can be a clue that your levels of oestrogen are declining and any frequent headache should always be checked with your doctor.
It’s normal to have this occasionally but if you often notice that you are dry or irritated thenlow oestrogen may be the reason.
The hormone helps vaginal tissue stay moist and comfortable and so a combination cream with both progesterone and oestrogen can help.
Loss of libido
Again this is a functional of changing hormone levels, but also affected by other factors such as stress.
A drop in oestrogen can make your breast tissue less dense, and an increase in the hormone can thicken this tissue, even causing new lumps or cysts.
At perimenopause it is important to keep track of your. hormone levels and always talk to your doctor if you notice breast changes, even if you don’t have any other symptoms that concern you.