Feeling bloated, irritable, or just not your best? 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 so do any of these 12 symptoms apply to you?.
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 certain hormones (oestrogen and progesterone).
If you’re in your 40s or early 50s — the reason can be perimenopause — the time before menopause. But irregular periods can be a symptom of health problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) as well so if you are concerned talk to your doctor.
2 Sleep issues
This is one of the most mentioned symptoms of Peri/ Menopause, and often is definitely related to your hormone balance. Progesterone, a hormone released by your ovaries is the one that helps you sleep, so if your levels are lower than usual, that can make it hard to fall and stay asleep.
If you are also suffering from night sweats or severe flushes during the day those will lower your energy levels and can also be related to bioidentical progesterone and low oestrogen.
3 Chronic acne
We tend to associate this with adolescence and frequently has occurred before or during your period but it can also occur much later in life.
Certainly 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.
The ovaries, adrenal glands, fat cells and skin cells make the female body’s supply of androgens and these also affect the skin cells in and around your hair follicles.
Both of those things can clog your pores and cause acne.
4 Brain fog
This again is commonly experienced at menopause, and experts aren’t sure exactly how hormones impact your brain but 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, but they can also be a symptom of other hormone-related conditions, like 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 and at times of hormonal shifts.
If you’re having digestive problems as well as issues like acne and fatigue, your hormone levels might be unbalanced.
Are you tired all the time? Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a hormone imbalance.
If your thyroid — the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck — 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. If they are, you can get treated for that.
7 Mood swings/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.
8 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. 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.
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 but if you have severe or persistent headaches these need to be investigated.
10 Vaginal dryness
It’s normal to have this occasionally, but if you often notice that you’re dry or irritated then low oestrogen may be the reason.
The hormone helps vaginal tissue stay moist and comfortable so if your oestrogen drops because of an imbalance, it can reduce vaginal fluids and cause tightness.
11 Loss of libido
In women, progesterone is the dominant hormone behind sex drive and it is also the way that women make testosterone
If your testosterone levels are lower than usual, you might have less of an interest in sex than you usually do but there are many factors behind loss of libido not just physical but emotional reasons as well so you may need to investigate further with a therapist or counsellor.
12 Breast changes
A drop in oestrogen can make your breast tissue less dense, and an increase in this hormone can thicken this tissue, even causing new lumps or cysts.
Women who are experiencing symptoms of oestrogen dominance may certainly noticed this, but always talk to your doctor if you notice breast changes, even if you don’t have any other symptoms that concern you.
Women are the most aware of their own symptoms, but if you are not sure if you are lacking in progesterone, or progesterone and oestrogen then you may find the following articles helpful.
Which hormone or hormones might you need?
What Is Oestrogen Dominance?