Signs you have a Hormone Imbalance

 

Hormones play a key role in women's health and wellbeing. Everyone, however, experiences hormonal problems and changes. Therefore, if you ever feel like you are experiencing hormonal fluctuations do not worry, it is very common and not unusual.

It is estimated that 80-95% of women have some kind of hormonal imbalance, which can cause both physical and mental health changes, as a result of changes in estrogen and progesterone levels (female sex hormones).

 

Hormonal fluctuations and symptoms can occur as a result of various things from our diet and lifestyle, to pollution, toxins and xenoestrogens (synthetic chemicals that act as estrogen in our bodies) that we're exposed to every day.

 

Here are common signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance

 

Irregular Periods

Do you see 8 or less menstrual cycles per year? This can be a sign of a hormone imbalance, you may have either too much or too little estrogen or progesterone. It is important that you visit a doctor to find out the cause.

 

Chronic Acne

Acne is a common and recognized disorder among adolescents, although the number of patients over the age of 25 years with acne has significantly increased.

A few spots and pimples before or after a woman's period is normal. However, women that suffer from severe acne, that does not clear up, may suffer from a hormonal imbalance. An excess of androgens- males hormones, that women have a small amount of, can result in excess sebum, or oil gland, production and altering the development of skin cells that line hair follicles in the skin.This in turn cause pores to clog, causing acne.

 

Sleep Disturbances

A hormonal imbalance can cause sleep disturbances and insomnia. Studies have shown that low progesterone levels can cause disturbed sleep. Progesterone has both sedative and anxiolytic effects, stimulating benzodiazipine receptors, which play an important role in sleep cycle.

 

Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Night sweats and hot flashes, is a further sign of a hormone imbalance. Hot flashes, experiences due to low estrogen levels is characterized by increases in both peripheral and central temperature. Hot flashes also are characterized by bursts of catecholamines

and surges in luteinizing hormone (LH).

Hot flashes occur in both perimenopause and menopause. Hot flashes are a result of a drop in estrogen levels, a drop from when the brain was used to high estrogen levels. Therefore the hot flashes that women experience in perimenopause occur because of the drastic changes in estrogen from high to fairly high, or even from high to normal.

In menopause, hot flashes occur because estrogen levels have become low after the normal levels of the menstruating years and the higher levels of perimenopause.

 

Weight Gain

The weight you are gaining, that you are just struggling to understand how and why. The underlying cause may be hormonal.

Estrogen influences an enzyme called Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL). LPL breaks down triglycerides in the bloodstream into their component fatty acids and the fatty acids then flow into the cell.

Estrogen inhibits the activity of LPL on fat cells. Therefore, if estrogen levels are low, LPL increases it's attachment to fat cells and then pulls fat from the circulation into the fat cell. However, a high level of estrogen means it is less likely that LPL will be attaching itself to fat from the bloodstream and taking it to the fat cells and in turn, there will be a reduction of fat accumulated in those cells.

 

Fluid Retention and Bloating

Fluid retention and bloating are very common symptoms women experience the days leading up to a menstrual cycle. An increase in estrogen levels is the cause for the water retention.

 

Low Libido and Vaginal Dryness

A low sex drive can be a sign of low estrogen in women. Estrogen levels drop in women around the time they hit menopause. A decrease in estrogen levels plays an important role in vaginal dryness that may cause sexual dysfunction. A decline in estrogen causes a decrease in the production of vaginal lubrication, loss of vaginal elasticity and thickness of vaginal epithelium (vaginal atrophy), and development of uretheral caruncles.

Research has shown estrogen replacement therapy in menopausal and postmenopausal women can improve sleep by decreasing night time awakenings.

 

Breast Changes

Breast begin to grow when the ovaries start to secrete estrogen. If your breasts feel thicker your estrogen levels are high. If they feel less dense than usual, your estrogen levels are decreasing.

 

Constant hunger

Do you always feel hungry? Your constant hunger may be a result of your hormones that. Are you sleeping enough and well?

A study has shown participants with short sleep had reduced leptin and elevated ghrelin. These differences in leptin and ghrelin are likely to increase appetite, which may be an explanation for the relationship between a high BMI and short sleep duration.

 

Fatigue

Feeling constantly tired and exhausted even after a good 8 hours of sleep can be a sign of a hormone imbalance. A likely cause is insulin.

A diet that is high in simple sugars and processed foods, is a common cause for problems with blood sugar regulation. Eating a meal loaded with sugar and refined carbs, such as white flour can result in you experiencing wild swings in blood sugar.

Symptoms of blood sugar swings are; feeling tired, irritable, hungry for more carbs/fast absorbing sugars and anxious.

It is not normal or healthy to be feeling tired constantly or to be experiencing these symptoms of  blood sugar dysregulation after a high-carb meal

Research has indicated that these are the classic signs of what is known as reactive hypoglycemia, which could be an indication of insulin resistance.

 

Memory Problems

Estrogen controls cortisol. When estrogen levels decline, common during perimenopause, estrogen can no longer control the cortisol. This in turn, causes the neurotransmitters to malfunction, resulting in these memory lapses.

Further possible reasons can be thyroid dysfunction, particularly low functioning thyroid, or hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue.

 

Digestive Problems

Digestive problems can occur due to a hormonal imbalance. Estrogen dominance is the most common explanation, with regards to with sex hormone imbalances, that can lead to digestive issues.

Estrogen dominance is prominent during menstruation, perimenopause, menopause, premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Also, estrogen is elevated in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and fibroids.
Symptoms of digestive problems related to hormonal issues include; bloating, abdominal discomfort, and uncontrollable weight gain.

 

Migraines and Headaches

Many women experience migraines and headaches before or during menstruation. The drop in estrogen before your period  can cause headaches.

 

Mood swings and Depression

Sudden and drastic changes in estrogen levels, the sex hormone that either falls drastically or elevates during menopause, influences the production of a hormone called serotonin.

Sources

Eichling, S.P and Sahni, J. (2005). "Menopause Related Sleep  Disorders". Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 1(3), 291-300.

Available from: http://www.aasmnet.org/JCSM/Articles/010312.pdf.[Accessed 8 December 2016].

 

Jehan, S., Isarilov, A.L., Salifu, I, Zizi,F., Jean-Louis,G., R Pandi-Perumal,S., Gupta,R., Brzezinski, A., and McFarlane, I.S. (2015). "Sleep Disorders in Postmenopausal Women". 4(5). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4621258/  . [Accessed 8 December 2016].

 

Lee, KA., McEnany, G., Zaffke, ME. (2000). "REM sleep and mood state in childbearing women: sleepy or weepy?" Department of Family Health Care Nursing, School of Nursing. Available from: http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/11083596 . [Accessed 8 December 2016].

 

Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T., and Mignot, E. (2004). "Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index". 1(3). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC535701/ . [Accessed 10 December 2016].

 

UHN staff. (2016). Feeling Sleepy All the Time and Chronic Fatigue: Symptoms of Reactive Hypoglycemia and Insulin Resistance. University Health News. Available from: http://universityhealthnews.com/daily/energy/feeling-sleepy-all-the-time-and-chronic-fatigue-are-reactive-hypoglycemia-and-insulin-resistance-symptoms/. [Accessed 11 December 2016].

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