Have you been feeling tired, irritable, bloated or simply not well? If so, you could have a hormone imbalance. Hormones are substances that control most bodily functions. If they’re acting up, it can mean bad things for you. While fluctuation in hormonal levels is perfectly normal at certain periods of your life such as menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, there are other less natural reasons behind this. Health conditions and medications can also be to blame for unruly hormones and their consequences.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
What causes hormonal imbalance can vary from person to person and so do the symptoms. Below is a list of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Hair loss
- Appetite changes
- Increase or decrease in libido
Different hormonal imbalance causes different symptoms so it’s important to keep track of the ones you’re experiencing to make diagnosis easier.
While you should always consult with a doctor if you believe you have a hormonal imbalance, below you can find a list of hormonal imbalances and their respective symptoms.
- High Estrogen: Irregular sleep schedules, changes in appetite, anxiety, slowed metabolism which can lead to weight gain.
- Low Insulin: Neuropathy (nerve damages), fatigue, trouble healing injuries, skin problems, excessive thirst.
- Low Testosterone: Muscle loss, weight gain, moodiness and erectile dysfunction.
- Low Thyroid Hormones: Irregular periods or even lack of periods, unexplained weight gain, fatigue and irritability.
- High Thyroid Hormones: Unexplained weight loss, insomnia, anxiety and hair loss or thinning.
Causes of Hormonal Imbalance
While the list of what causes hormonal imbalance is a long one, here you can find a list of the most common causes.
1. Thyroid Problems
The thyroid is a gland that is responsible for the production of growth and development hormones. If your thyroid isn’t working well, it can cause hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
Unfortunately, most doctors only tests for thyroid stimulating hormones which means that many underlying hormonal imbalances can go unnoticed if more through testing isn’t done.
2. Digestive Disorders
Issues such as constipation, bloating, diarrhea and reflux are consequences of inflammation in the stomach. This inflammation can have adverse effects on the pituitary gland, which regulates the production of certain hormones. Because of this, inflammation can lead to hormonal imbalance. What’s more, because estrogen and progesterone are metabolized in the liver, problems with your liver can cause problems with your estrogen and progesterone levels. So you'd better take any digestive symptoms into consideration when discussing possible hormonal imbalances.
Stress comes in many ways and forms. It is also one of the biggest culprits behind hormonal imbalance, as it increases the production of cortisol which can lead to an inflammatory response and, as previously mentioned, inflammation is what causes hormonal imbalance in many people.
Aging causes our hormone production to decrease. This is a common yet uncomfortable process for both men and women and it can lead to hormonal imbalances such as low testosterone and low estrogen.
It should come as no surprise that pregnancy (and childbirth) causes hormonal imbalances. During their pregnancy, women produce large quantities of progesterone and after childbirth this production drops tremendously, which can lead to all sorts of hormonal imbalances and cause symptoms such as post-partum depression.
6. Genetic Predisposition
Simply put, some people are just genetically predisposed to hormonal imbalances. For example, if your family has a history of breast cancer, maybe you are predisposed to estrogen dominance. Although it can't be prevented, you can do something accordingly to avoid worse results.
7. Yeast Overgrowth
Yeast, also named as candida, is a fungus that lives in your digestive system. While in small quantities it is harmless and even beneficial, there’s a condition called yeast overgrowth in which this fungus takes over the entire digestive tract. In this condition, candida will release a kind chemical substance that can mimic hormones in your body, which will make your body produce less hormones.
Candida can be caused by antibiotics and by diets high in sugar and carbohydrates.
8. Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)
SHBG is a kind of protein that can make your hormones become inactive while they're still in your body. Too much SHBG can lower the levels of your active hormones. High SHBG can be caused by a variety of reasons, but mineral deficiency is the most common one.
9. Birth Control Method
A man-made hormone called progestin is used in birth control methods. Those methods control and regulate fertility cycle by altering a woman’s hormones. Progestin will make the body stop release natural progesterone which is the key precursor of other steroid hormone's production. Therefore using such kind of birth control method will lead to further hormonal imbalance.
Tips for Hormonal Imbalance
After reading all the explanations about what causes hormonal imbalance and their respective symptoms, you might have known something about it. If you believe you’re going through hormonal imbalance, please contact your doctor immediately. They can make a proper diagnosis and offer treatment specific to your symptoms.
In the meantime, here are a handful of things you can do to help keep your hormones in balance:
- Avoid highly processed food, pre-packaged meats and frozen dinners.
- Increase your fiber consumption.
- Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks, caffeine and alcohol.
- Consume whole foods and organic products.
- Eat more fish, such as tuna, mackerel and salmon.
- Avoid milk and dairy products. If you can’t stay away from them, buy organic and antibiotic-free products.
- Avoid anti-aging creams and products containing glycolic, AHA and BHA acids.
- Don’t dye your hair.
- Use solid hand soap or at least avoid hand soaps containing triclosan.
- Avoid formaldehyde in all its forms.
- Avoid skin lightening products.
- Avoid parabens.