Hormones are how your body communicates from one part to another in order to keep itself functioning properly.
Sometimes, almost like when you have weak Wi-Fi, there’s a communications failure caused by an imbalance in your hormones.
What do hormonal conditions look like?
The short answer is: it depends on the hormone, and it depends on how out of balance it is.
Because there are so many complaints that we hear from patients that ALL have to do with hormone imbalance, we put together this overview for you to cover off a whole list of them.
What Are Hormones
Let’s first start with: what are hormones?
Hormones are chemicals that travel through your blood.
They’re produced by various glands and generally regulated by the endocrine system.
Hormones are what run a lot of your bodily functions and processes.
Some you may have heard of – for instance, men are more likely to have a testosterone imbalance.
For women, it’s usually estrogen or progesterone that we’re talking about.
However, other hormones don’t discriminate – both women and men can have an imbalance in adrenaline, insulin, thyroid hormone , or many other hormones.
What Causes A Hormone Imbalance?
Pared down to its most basic: it’s a faulty endocrine gland that causes a hormonal imbalance to happen.
Keep in mind that some fluctuation over time is very normal.
However, at other times, it can be a sign of an underlying problem, and a potentially serious one.
Some fluctuations could be a result of a person’s lifestyle, environment, or habits, which is a good reason to involve a naturopathic doctor.
What Are Some Symptoms Of Hormone Imbalance?
There are many different symptoms of hormonal imbalance, because hormones are involved in almost every bodily function.
Depending on the hormone and which gland is malfunctioning can determine the symptoms.
Chronic acne is not your everyday pimple, and it can be a result of hormones.
Androgens may be “male hormones,” but folks of all genders have them.
Excess androgens cause oil glands to produce more oil, and can also cause skin cells to overproduce, further clogging pores.
Insulin is another, which in turn stimulates the production of the androgen hormone.
It’s no secret that pregnancy is a time where your hormones undergo radical changes, which is why acne during pregnancy is such a persistent issue.
2. Digestive Trouble
Digestive issues are quite common among those who are menstruating.
Side effects of both progesterone and estrogen imbalance can cause pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bloating and constipation.
Although unpleasant, it makes sense once you learn that the cells that line your gastrointestinal tract are fine-tuned to be receptors for those two hormones.
3. Anxiety, Depression, Or Moodiness
There are a few potential hormone imbalance issues in this category, so let’s see which symptoms are attached to which hormones.
Estrogen effects dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which can cause mood swings, depression, or even anger during high periods of the month.
However, estrogen can also protect the brain, aid brain chemicals and the ability to cope better with stress.
Lower levels of estrogen can be a factor in the risk of psychosis, which is part of the reason that menopause is a common trigger for an increased risk of schizophrenia in women.
Lastly, cortisol is a hormone that can become dysregulated by stress, which in turn affects adrenal function.
Insomnia and other sleep disorders can be caused by low levels of progesterone, which helps you fall asleep and sleep soundly.
5. Chronic Headaches
In women, at least, a drop in estrogen is a common cause of chronic headaches, although there are many causes of headaches to choose from.
One hint is their regularity – if they seem to all occur at the same time of the month, it could be related to estrogen production.
6. Changes In Your Breasts
Many report that they knew they were pregnant because of a change in their breasts.
This is because estrogen is one of the hormones that changes drastically once you become pregnant.
Estrogen can change the density of your breast tissue, the texture, and even create cysts.
7. Irregular Menstrual Cycle
The average menstrual cycle is between twenty one and thirty five days.
However, there are all manner of examples outside of range you may experience; up to one quarter of those who menstruate don’t fall into that “average” category at all.
There are several conditions that they might experience, which can be caused by estrogen and progesterone levels being unbalanced.
Amenorrhea is fairly common – this is when those who aren’t pregnant experience at least three months without a period.
Oligomenorrhea is the opposite of amenorrhea; it describes a condition where periods are infrequent.
Menorrhagia is when there is much more menstrual bleeding than normal, and dysmenorrhea is a condition where you experience excessive pain and cramping when menstruating.
8. Chronic Fatigue
Progesterone is one hormone culprit that can cause issues with feeling exhausted when it’s in too great quantity in your body.
Alternately, hypothyroidism – when one has low thyroid hormone levels – can cause fatigue.
Despite hormone imbalances, remember that you can fight the effects by taking action with your self-care routine.
Having a sleep schedule will help, as well as fitting some exercise into your day, taking a warm bath before bed, or simply cutting out alcohol, caffeine, and TV in the hours before you go to sleep.
9. High Or Low Blood Sugar
Almost everyone knows a diabetic who has to monitor their blood sugar levels constantly; this is a result of their insulin being dysregulated.
The pancreas is a gland that has a few functions – it secretes enzymes that are used to digest foods, as well as the hormones insulin and glucagon that regulate your blood sugar.
The body needs sugar in order to fuel your brain, liver, and kidneys, but if the production is not properly regulated, it can lead to diseases such as diabetes.
10. Brain Fog
Although “brain fog” is not a medical condition, it is commonly heard by doctors, and may have its origins in a hormone imbalance.
Most frequently it is peri- and post-menopausal women who suffer from it, and it includes several symptoms including difficulty with memory and concentration.
These could be caused by a decline in estrogen as women get older; alternately, thyroid disease could be a culprit.
The thyroid is an important part of managing several important hormones, and when it is not functioning properly, you can experience all manner of side effects.
11. Thinning Bones
Estrogen is part of what helps people, and women in particular, maintain bone density.
After menopause, when estrogen drops, many women experience osteoporosis.
In fact, up to fifty percent of women over fifty will experience a broken bone as a result of osteoporosis.
Doing weight training can help offset the risk of developing osteoporosis, and there are hormone therapies available as well.
13. Low Sex Drive
Low sex drive – also known as low libido – is generally caused by low testosterone.
Although women may think they’re not impacted, in fact those of all genders have testosterone.
If you’re a woman with low testosterone, you may find you have a low sex drive as well.
A dipping of testosterone in men is referred to as andropause.
14. Increased Appetite
Commonly experienced during menstrual cycles and pregnancies, women are well acquainted with the concept that hormones cause changes in appetite.
Decreases in estrogen can cause PMS, which can have you reaching for comfort foods at the same time every month.
As well, a fall in estrogen can affect leptin production – a hormone that inhibits your hunger response.
Although hormone treatments may help, I recommend you keep plenty of fruits and vegetables in the house so that you have healthy options to reach for when you experience a change in eating desires.
15. Vaginal Dryness
Estrogen is the hormone that is responsible for lubrication of the vaginal walls during sex, and when it is in low supply or imbalanced, it can have uncomfortable side effects.
Vaginal dryness can cause sex to be painful; it thins the wall of the vagina, which can lead to tearing.
Hormone therapy can help with combatting vaginal dryness.
Book An Appointment At Annex Naturopathic
If you’re still with us though all these examples of hormonal imbalance, then you see how important hormone production and regulation is.
Underlying all your symptoms could be a simple dysregulated gland that is causing one or many hormonal imbalances with varying side effects.
The best way to handle it is to book an appointment with us at Annex Naturopathic and allow me to investigate for you.
After getting a full history of your complaints, and running tests, we’ll be able to propose therapies to realign your hormones and help you get relief.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND