Do you ever wonder why you feel less than ideal around your period? Or why your mood fluctuates with your menstrual cycle? It may help to know that a hormone imbalance may be driving your symptoms!
Hormones are one of your body’s chemical messengers. They are made in special glands (called endocrine glands) and travel through the bloodstream delivering instructions to the various tissues and organs. In addition to roles in sex drive and reproduction, hormones affect virtually every body function from digestion and metabolism to hair growth and happiness.
Do I have a hormone imbalance?
When you have a hormonal imbalance, there can be too much or too little of one or more hormones, disrupting equilibrium and compromising health and well-being. Women are generally aware that hormone levels fluctuate over the month and with pregnancy & breastfeeding; changes also occur throughout life, including as a part of natural ageing. However, when the glands or the signals are compromised other changes can occur. The function of the endocrine glands are closely linked, especially the ovaries, thyroid and adrenals. Some of the symptoms of imbalances in these glands can present similarly, so it can be difficult figuring out which are out of kilter.
Here are five signs of hormone imbalance:
- Period issues
Hormones control your cycle. They dictate the regularity, duration, intensity of your periods and your tendency to (and type of) PMS symptoms. When your hormones are in optimal ratios, you will have regular periods, stable energy levels and mood, with the absence of discomfort or cramping. Heavy, painful or irregular periods, missed periods, menstrual headaches or migraines, and mood swings are all signs of hormonal imbalance.
- Low energy
Adrenal dysfunction, an underactive thyroid, or imbalances in the sex hormones oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and/or DHEA, can lead to symptoms of low energy or fatigue. If you’ve noticed your energy levels are not what they used to be or wake up feeling unrefreshed despite adequate sleep, it might be time to investigate your hormones.
- Acne & skin problems
Skin issues are often a reflection of what is happening inside of the body, with hormones commonly implicated. Such issues as: oily skin or hair; increased fine lines (wrinkles); or acne on the upper back, chin area or jawline, all suggest a possible need for hormonal support (and maybe some liver work too) to restore skin health.
- Difficulty losing weight
Not able to shed those extra kilos no matter what your do? Your hormones play a crucial role in weight management. Many diets don’t work for women because they don’t address the underlying hormonal root causes that are the most common reasons for weight loss resistance. Implicated are: cortisol (main stress hormone); insulin (or insulin resistance); oestrogen excess; a sluggish thyroid; and maybe issues with a little-known hormone called leptin, which is a driver of fat gain.
- Mood swings
Sex hormones and mood are intricately linked. If you feel irritable, anxious or emotional around your period, this may indicate that a hormonal imbalance is at play. The mood chemicals serotonin, GABA and dopamine all affect your temperament and sense of wellbeing. These brain chemicals are all neurotransmitters, and sex hormones have powerful interactions with these, so if your hormones are out of whack, it’s no surprise that your mood may suffer.
How can we help?
Nutritional and lifestyle changes as well as supplemental and herbal support can help bring your hormones back into balance. At House of Health we offer the DUTCH Complete; a comprehensive urine test that evaluates both reproductive and adrenal hormones, providing an effective insight into your hormonal health. Come and see us for a consultation to review your general health and wellness goals, and help you get your hormones back on track! Fast-track the process by ordering the test ahead of your appointment. Results are in about 4 weeks after testing, so get started now. NOTE: menstruating women should collect around days 18-21 of your cycle (where day 1 is the first day of your period). If you’re using hormonal contraception, this test may not be indicated. Talk to us about the most appropriate one for you.
Verity Vincent (reg Naturopath and Medical Herbalist)