Hormonal Imbalance in Women
Considered chemical “messengers” in our bodies, hormones have a big impact on how organs and cells function. While shifts in hormonal levels at different times of a woman’s life are to be expected (i.e. during your period, pregnancy, and menopause), there are other factors such as medications or underlying conditions that can cause hormonal imbalance, too. There are various signs of hormonal balance for women, so it’s important to pay attention.
Periods that are Irregular
Typically a woman’s period will come every 21-35 days per cycle. If you notice that your period doesn’t come near the same time each month, or if you skip periods some at times, it could indicate that you have too little or too much of either the progesterone or estrogen hormones connected to womens’ cyles. Women in their 40’s and 50’s can experience imbalance issues due to perimenopause, which is the timespan leading up to a woman’s menopause. But often, irregular periods can indicate other health issues, so it is important to consult with your doctor.
If getting enough consistent sleep is a challenge for you hormonal balance could be a factor. The hormone progesterone, which is released by a woman’s ovaries, also helps aid with getting the right kind of sleep. If a woman has low progesterone levels this can make it hard for her to both fall AND stay asleep long enough to get good sleep, while lower levels of estrogen can cause night sweats and hot flashes which can disrupt sleep, as well.
Acne that is persistent and isn’t clearing up can be a sign of underlying hormonal imbalance. Excessive amounts of the hormones called androgens (termed “male” hormones but that are present in both women and men) can cause a person’s oil glands to over perform, which can cause acne.
Memory and/or Mental “Fog”
There are still a lot of questions in the scientific and medial worlds about how hormones affect brain function, but one thing that is known is that changes in progesterone and estrogen can cause a feeling of mental “fog” which can make it more difficult to remember certain things. Memory and attention problems are common during the perimenopause and menopause phases in a woman’s life. These can also indicated other health issues, so it’s important to consult with your doctor if you are are having problems thinking clearly.
Stomach and Digestion Issues
Since our stomachs are lined with small cells that are affected by estrogen and progesterone levels, changes in these hormone levels can affect how we digest food. Stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, nausea can all come up during a woman’s period. Digestive issues could indicate hormonal imbalance.
Frequent or constant fatigue is a common sign of hormonal imbalance and is worth reporting to your doctor. It can also indicate thyroid and many other health issues.
Headaches and/or Migraines
Many things can cause headaches and/or migraines, but for many women decrease in the estrogen hormone can trigger them, which is why headaches are common for women just before or during a period (when estrogen is naturally declining). Regular headaches that come each month around the same time could indicate hormonal shifts or imbalances.
Depression and/or Mood Swings
Research has indicated that big and/or fast changes in hormone levels can affect moods, and can contribute to depression and feelings of sadness. It is important to discuss any experiences with big mood changes or feelings of depression with a health care professional.
Occasional vaginal dryness is normal. But if there is frequent vaginal dryness or irritation, low levels of estrogen could be the cause.
Low and/or Lack of Libido
Testosterone, which is often thought of as a male hormone, is also present in women’s bodies. If testosterone levels are too low it can lead to low or lack of libido.
Changes in Breast Tissue
Breast tissues can change according to a woman’s estrogen levels. Breast tissue may become less dense if there is a decrease in estrogen, while an increase can actually thicken the tissue and can lead to cysts or lumps. It’s important to do a self breast exam regularly and report any changes to your doctor.