Hormones are chemicals produced by different glands and tissues, which are part of the endocrine system.
Hormones are delivered to all of the tissues and organs found in the body throughout the bloodstream. They are giving messages to the organs and tell them what to do and when to do it.
They are responsible for regulating a lot of processes that happen in the body. Hormones regulate appetite and metabolism, sleep cycles, heart rate, sexual function, general mood and stress levels, and body temperature. Women may experience imbalances in insulin, cortisol, thyroxin, androgens, estrogen and progesterone levels, etc.
A hormonal imbalance means that you have too much or too little of a certain hormone. Every slight change that happens can cause serious effects on your body.
What happens if you put too much or too little of certain ingredients while cooking? The final product won't be as it should. The same thing happens with our body.
There is a wide range of symptoms that can trigger and signal female hormone imbalance. Hormonal imbalance symptoms depend on which hormones or glands are not working properly.
Some of the most common hormonal conditions that are affecting women cause the following nine main symptoms:
Excessive weight gain
Imbalances in hormone levels are associated with weight gain and difficulties with losing weight. High levels of estrogen, cortisol, and insulin and low levels of thyroxin can put on extra belly fat.
Sweaty skin is also related to a hormonal imbalance. Imbalance of some hormones may cause excessive sweating because their primary role is to control your body temperature.
Decreased sex drive
The sex hormones are produced by the ovaries. Variations in estrogen and progesterone levels affect the libido significantly.
It's normal to lose some hair every day. But, when you're starting to lose a lot of hair - that's a warning sign. You want to figure out why this is happening because you don't want to end up with the excess hair loss. So here are some things to think about.
When you're dealing with hair loss you have to make sure that you treat the reason which may be imbalance of some hormones but not the symptom.
One of the biggest root causes has to do with your hormones. There are several hormones involved in hair loss.
One of the biggest is a thyroid hormone. If you have low thyroid function that's one of the main reasons for people losing hair.
So, if you are feeling tired all the time and noticing that your skin is dry, maybe you have constipation or other issues like that it might indicate that you have low thyroid function. We would suggest going to see your doctor, get some blood tests done to see if your thyroid function is out of balance. If your thyroid function is low, then you're not going to have that thick luxurious hair. You need to get to the root cause and address your thyroid.
The other hormone that can be related to hair loss is your adrenal hormone. Cortisol is a stress hormone that comes from your adrenals and when its levels are elevated, your body feels like it's in a state of stress.
Other hormones that can cause hair loss are sex hormones. If you're going through menopause or perimenopause or you're noticing other issues with your hormones being out of balance and you're losing your hair then that might be something you want to address.
Every person is tired from time to time. But if you feel constantly tired, you might have problems with your thyroid gland. Constant fatigue is related to an imbalance of the thyroid hormone thyroxin. Also, hormonal imbalance causes a lack of sleep and more stress, which lead to increased fatigue.
Hormonal imbalance may be the exact reason why you have acne before your period. Hormonal changes trigger acne and make the skin worse. High levels of androgens (testosterone) is associated with acne problems.
Loss of muscular mass
Lack of some hormones makes it hard to keep muscles strong. Researchers found that tomatoes and apples have compounds that can help to reverse age-related muscle weakness.
Sex hormones (especially estrogens) affect the microflora in the gut as well as GI tract functioning in general. This can be the reason why you may experience bowel discomfort, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhea and nausea before or during menses.
And these can also explain why women are more prone to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) than men.
Hot flashes and night sweats
One of the most common symptoms of perimenopause is the hot flash, which goes along with the night sweats. Almost 80% of women who are in perimenopause or in the transition state and heading into menopause have hot flashes. Also, almost every woman who had chemotherapy or had surgery to remove her ovaries experience hot flashes.
It is proven that hot flashes occur as a result of low estrogen levels. It is represented with a strong heat that starts in the chest area and goes up to the neck and the head. It can last for a few minutes. The face is starting to sweat. Some women can have a faster heart rate.
Hot flashes can happen at night. If it occurs while you're sleeping, they are called night sweats. Women who have night sweats are waking up in the morning tired.
If your face is starting to get red, along with the neck, then the hot flash is called hot flush.
On average, hot flashes last for about three to four minutes. Hot flashes can be present for a few months up to several years. There are several cases when women had hot flashes for 10 years.
Other symptoms and signs of hormonal imbalance are:
- Heavy or irregular periods, missed periods, frequent periods or stopped periods
- Vaginal dryness and itching
- Hyperpigmentation of the skin
- Puffy face
- Decreased or increased heart rate
- Weakened muscles
- Pain in the muscles, tenderness, and stiffness
- Pain and swelling in the joints
- Anxiety or irritability
- Purple stretch marks
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There are numerous possible causes of hormonal imbalance in women. Same as the symptoms, causes differ depending on which hormone or gland is affected. Some of the most common causes of hormonal imbalance are the followings:
- Premature menopause
- Primary ovarian insufficiency
- Cushing syndrome
- Benign or cancerous tumors
- Eating disorders
- Hormone therapy
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Cancer treatments
The first thing is to make an appointment with your doctor for a physical exam. Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms. Depending on your symptoms, your doctor will suggest you what hormone imbalance tests to do.
- Blood test. The estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroxin, TTH, insulin and cortisol levels can be detected in blood.
- Pelvic exam. Your doctor will search for any lumps or cysts present.
- Ultrasound. Images of your uterus, ovaries, thyroid and pituitary gland can be obtained.
- Thyroid scan
Hormone Replacement Therapy – HRT is one of the most common type of treatment in case of low hormone level.
In such cases as menopause, premature menopause, primary ovarian insufficiency, after oophorectomy (removing ovaries surgery) state, condition after chemotherapy estrogen therapy may be needed. Estrogen therapy without progestin is recommended to women who have had a hysterectomy. You can take estrogen in different forms. The most commonly used forms are estrogen pills and estrogen patch.
Estrogen pills are the most common treatments for menopausal symptoms. The main forms of pills that are available and used are the conjugated estrogen and estrogen bazedoxifene. Before starting to use the pills, your doctor should recommend you the right dosing. In most cases, estrogen pills are taken once a day.
Estrogen patches are put on the skin of the abdomen. Some patches are replaced every few days, while and other patches can be worn for a week. There are also available patches that are a combination of estrogen and progestin.
Vaginal estrogen comes in different forms. It is available in the form of a cream, ring or vaginal estrogen tablets. Vaginal estrogen is a common treatment for women that experience vaginal dryness, vaginal itching or even vaginal pain. Your doctor should schedule you the dosage because it varies depending on the product. Vaginal rings are mainly changed every three months. Vaginal tablets are consumed on a daily basis, as well as the creams.
Estrogen/progesterone/progestin hormone therapy
Apart from the estrogen therapy, there is combined therapy. This therapy is called combination therapy because it combines doses of estrogen and progestin. Progestin is the synthetic form of progesterone. This hormonal therapy is recommended for women with an intact uterus. Progesterone is added to the estrogen therapy in order to protect women from endometrial hyperplasia and endometrial cancer.
There are natural remedies for hormonal imbalance in females. Most of the natural supplements can be found on the market. Also, certain lifestyle changes are needed, including:
- Losing weight
- Keeping a healthy diet
- Avoiding stress
- Getting enough sleep.
Hormones are having a great role in many processes in our body. If the hormones are unbalanced, a variety of symptoms may occur. Sometimes, hormonal imbalance can cause several serious complications. If you seek for treatment as soon as possible, the complications will be reduced.