Women and Hormone Imbalance – Signs that You Are Experiencing Hormone Imbalance and What You Can do About it

Hormones regulate every function in our bodies throughout our lives. Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels rise and fall from a woman’s childbearing years through menopause. But women experience pronounced, normal hormonal changes through their 40s and 50s.

During menopause the production of estrogen may fluctuate. Higher levels of estrogen can cause uncomfortably tender breasts. You may feel bloated and have heavier than normal periods.

Eventually, the body will make only 1/10th of the estrogen it produces during peak years. As levels decrease, you may experience hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping, and increased feelings of anxiety or depression. The body stops making progesterone when there is no ovulation (during pregnancy) and during menopause. Periods can last longer and become more irregular with a lack of progesterone.Testosterone, though known as a ‘male’ hormone, is also present in women and an important contributor to health. Testosterone peaks around age 20 and declines as a woman ages.

You may notice these common, and less well-known signs that you are experiencing hormone imbalance:

Hot flashes and night sweats.

Hot flashes and night sweats are often the first sign of hormonal change. They affect 2/3rds of North American women, and the exact cause is not known. You probably can’t avoid hot flashes during menopause, but you can help minimize them by avoiding these triggers:

  • Stress
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Spicy foods
  • Tight clothing
  • Heat
  • Cigarette smoke

Foods rich in phytoestrogens — compounds that act like estrogen found in certain plants – can help women have fewer symptoms. Studies have observed fewer menopause symptoms among women in countries where the diet includes phytoestrogen-rich foods such as tofu and soybeans. Other sources or supplements to consider include ginseng, fenugreek, licorice, gotu kola, dong quai, black cohosh and evening primrose (according to the North American Menopause Society’s Menopause Guidebook.)

Diminished or low libido.

One of the most noticeable indications of a hormonal imbalance is a diminished or lowered sex drive. Sleep disturbances and lack of quality sleep, also caused by hormonal imbalance, can cause a reduction in the production of the sex hormones.

Persistent weight gain.

Although weight gain is often tied to diet and lack of physical activity, undetected hormonal imbalances can make it very difficult to remain at a desired healthy weight.

Digestive problems.

Slow digestion, cramps, gas and bloating can have a number causes. They can be made worse by hormonal imbalance. The stress hormone cortisol often increases during menopause. Cortisol has a dampening effect on digestion, slowing down the release of stomach acid, and the rate of digestion.

Cravings.

Insulin resistance, adrenal fatigue and other hormonal imbalances are a common cause for cravings and overindulgence. Minimizing or eliminating sugars, alcohol, dairy and wheat from your diet can help control cravings and improve many of difficulties with digestion as well.

Insomnia and inadequate sleep patterns.

Lack of proper sleep can result from hormonal imbalance. It can also make other symptoms worse, as fatigue can begin a cycle of physical stress on the body, which increases cortisol levels.

Fatigue and low energy.

If you experience daily mid-morning or mid-afternoon fatigue, you may wonder what is going on with your body. Feeling scattered, overly tired or mentally foggy does not have to be the ‘new normal’ for you. Dietary changes to regulate blood sugar, such as the elimination of most grains and sugars, will often help improve these issues.

Irritability, anxiety, and depression.

Irritability, anxiety and depression often point to an imbalance, exposure to toxicity, being overworked or stressed out, or experiencing a lack of proper nourishment. Take steps to reduce these harmful actions before turning to pharmaceuticals.

What to do if You Are Concerned About Hormone Imbalance

Your efforts to eat better, mange stress appropriately get good quality sleep and regular exercise can go a long way to help you reduce the discomfort of hormone change.

New formulas and preparations allow hormone replacement therapy to provide low, safe doses to help control your symptoms. HRT requires careful adjustments to work successfully with your unique body chemistry and metabolism.

If you are considering HRT to benefit your health, talk with your doctor. Managing your symptoms safely and effectively requires a detailed health assessment and a treatment plan that is designed for you.

Dr. Betty Keller keeps up-to-date on the latest findings to help you develop a plan for optimal health.

Dr. Betty Keller keeps up-to-date on the latest findings to help you develop a plan for optimal health.

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