Hormones are chemical messengers in the body, and the endocrine glands produce them. They travel through the bloodstream to major tissues and organs to tell them what to do.
For example, hormones control your metabolism, hunger, reproduction mood, emotions and other essential processes in the body. The amount of hormones is usually regulated to ensure adequate levels for their various functions.
However, it’s possible to experience hormone imbalance, which happens when you have too little or too much of a particular hormone. This change can affect your whole body. In this post, we’re going to explore more on female hormone imbalance.
Read on to learn more.
What’s Hormone Imbalance?
Certain hormonal fluctuations in the body are normal. For example, during puberty, ovulation, menstruation, menopause, and perimenopause, women usually experience regular hormonal shifts.
However, in some cases, the standard levels and production of hormones are usually disrupted. When an imbalance occurs, most people tend to relate it to menopause, periods, and pregnancy.
However, you need to know that there many types of hormones involved in other body functions, such as thyroid function, metabolism, weight, sleep cycles, and stress. In some cases, it’s usually hard to determine the symptoms and health conditions that are linked to hormonal imbalance.
Typically, if your hormones aren’t balanced, you’re likely to experience several health issues.
What Are the Causes?
As noted before, hormones are always fluctuating. With enough health and body support, it’s usually easy to maintain the right balance and prevent over fluctuations.
However, with the changing women’s lifestyle, it becomes impossible for the body to maintain the right hormonal balance. This is because poor lifestyle makes your vulnerable to different conditions and situations that cause female hormone imbalance.
Some of the conditions that are likely to lead to imbalance include:
- benign and cancerous tumors
- hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
- hyperactive thyroid nodules
- congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- pituitary tumor
- eating disorders
Also, some medications, birth control pills, and cancer treatments are likely to lead to hormonal imbalance. In women, there are also those unique causes of imbalance including menopause, pregnancy, PCOS, breastfeeding, premature menopause, and primary ovarian insufficiency.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
In women, the most common cause of female hormone imbalance is usually polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). This condition usually causes enlarged ovaries with cysts on the outer edges. It usually leads to prolonged menstruation periods and elevated androgen (male hormone) levels.
So, when an imbalance occurs, you’re likely to experience symptoms, such as:
- skin tags
- hair loss
- pain during sex
- night sweats
- weight gain
- chest and face acne
- irregular periods
- vaginal atrophy
- skin darkening underneath breasts, in the groin, and along the neck creases
Bear in mind that the symptoms usually appear due to a specific unregulated hormone. For example, when a hormone such as insulin is imbalanced, you’re likely to experience weight gain other inflammatory diseases.
Whenever you experience hormonal-related symptoms, it’s advisable to seek medical help for a checkup and diagnosis.
Risks of Hormonal Imbalance in Women
In women, there have been reports of a possible connection between hormonal imbalance and different conditions, such as breast cancer. For example, insulin is said to lead to an increased risk of breast cancer.
Typically, insulin is a growth hormone, and it depends on your eating habits to grow. As you eat more and more sweets and carbohydrates, the insulin level in the body rises. At an elevated level, this hormone increaseInsulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1). The growth of this factor, in turn, stimulates cancer cells.
If you have insulin resistance obesity, you’re at risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes and PCOS. When you have an increased level of estrogen (estrogen dominance), you are likely to have low progesterone levels. This can lead to uterine bleeding, abdominal pain, and spotting.
Another common imbalance is the thyroid hormone imbalance, which can lead to hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels) or hyperthyroidism (high thyroid levels). Low thyroid levels can lead to several symptoms, such as dry skin, low libido, face puffiness, weight gain, and severe fatigue.
Test and Diagnosis
As of 2018, there is no single medical test for diagnosing female hormone imbalance. If you notice any symptoms, it helps to visit a doctor for a checkup. Don’t forget to mention all the supplements, medications, and vitamins you’re currently using.
Depending on your symptoms, the doctor will recommend different tests, such as blood tests, pelvic exams, ultrasound. Your blood sample can be used to check your cortisol, testosterone, thyroid, and estrogen levels.
The doctor will also conduct a Pap smear test to see if you have tumors, lumps or cysts. With an ultrasound test, your physician can check the uterus and ovaries to find any unusual conditions.
Other tests, such as MRI, thyroid scan, biopsy, and MRI, can also be used.
Treatment of Hormonal Imbalance
Treatment procedures and medications will depend on the underlying cause of your imbalance. Some standard treatment options include:
- Estrogen therapy – A low dose of estrogen to manage your symptoms, and this works similar to male HRT
- Vaginal estrogen– You use a cream, ring or tablet to treat vaginal pain
- Hormonal birth control – Involves using a birth control pill, patch, ring or a shot to regulate menstrual cycles
Women with elevated androgen levels can use drugs that control the symptoms of androgens. If your PCOS, you can take metformin to manage the symptoms, encourage ovulation, and lower androgen levels. Premenopausal women can use Flibanserin to improve sexual desire, but it has serious side effects.
Apart from medical options, remember to eat healthily, remove unwanted hair, and cut down your weight. Also, avoid hot flashes, which can be caused by hot beverages, spicy foods, and warm temperatures.
Prevent Female Hormone Imbalance
Hormones play an important role in communicating messages to different organs in the body. However, when they get out of balance, they pose different serious health problems, such as infertility, obesity, breast cancer, and kidney damage.
It’s important to watch your health and make lifestyle changes that will support good health.
If you have any question or thoughts about female hormone imbalance, be sure to share them in the comments.