Hormones are like the speed limit signs on the highway of our bodies. They tell our cells how fast or slow to go. A hormonal imbalance is a change in the levels of hormones in the bloodstream.
When an endocrine gland is not working correctly, there are hormonal shifts throughout the body. Hormonal imbalances can cause various symptoms, including fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, and insomnia.
While some hormonal imbalances can be chalked up to the aging process or lifestyle choices, others may indicate a more serious underlying condition. If you suspect you have a hormonal imbalance, it's essential to talk to your doctor to determine the best course of treatment.
Read on to learn about hormones, the most common hormone imbalances, and what you can do about them.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are chemicals produced by the body that help to regulate various bodily functions. The endocrine glands produce them, and their levels can be affected by various factors, including stress, diet, and exercise.
When hormonal levels become imbalanced, it can lead to various problems. Depending on which hormones or glands are not working correctly, you may have different symptoms.
Hormonal shifts often cause hormonal imbalances during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. However, they can also be caused by underlying medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders, adrenal disorders, and pituitary disorders.
Most Common Hormone Imbalances
Unfortunately, hormonal imbalances are prevalent, impacting women of all ages. Statistics show that 80 percent of women will suffer from hormonal imbalance at some point in their lives.
Often, these imbalances can go undetected for years, as many women are unaware of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that hormonal irregularities may cause.
So, what are the most common hormone imbalances?
Low Thyroid Hormone Levels (Hypothyroidism)
The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck and produces the thyroid hormone responsible for regulating the body's metabolism. When thyroid hormone levels are too low, this can lead to hypothyroidism, affecting up to 20 million Americans.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, weight gain, dry skin and hair, cold intolerance, constipation, and depression. Hypothyroidism can be caused by several factors, including autoimmune disease, radiation therapy, and certain medications.
High Thyroid Hormone Levels (Hyperthyroidism)
While most cases of hormonal imbalance involve low levels of hormones, in some cases, hormone levels can be too high.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition that happens when the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone. Hyperthyroidism can be caused by Graves' disease, an autoimmune disorder that impacts the thyroid gland.
Low Levels of Cortisol (Adrenal Fatigue)
The adrenal glands are located on top of the kidneys and produce cortisol, a hormone that helps the body respond to stress.
Very low cortisol levels can lead to adrenal fatigue, which impacts up to 80 percent of Americans. Symptoms of adrenal fatigue include fatigue, trouble sleeping, and cravings for salty or sugary foods. Stress often causes adrenal fatigue, but certain infections and autoimmune disorders can also cause it.
High Levels of Cortisol (Cushing's Syndrome)
While most cases of hormone imbalance involve low levels of hormones, in some cases, hormone levels can be too high.
Cushing's syndrome is a condition that occurs when the body produces too much cortisol. Symptoms of Cushing's syndrome include weight gain, fatigue, and moodiness.
Cushing's syndrome can be caused by stress, certain medications, and tumors.
Imbalance of Sex Hormones (Androgen Excess)
The sex hormones estrogen and progesterone play a vital role in regulating the menstrual cycle. When levels of these hormones are out of balance, it can lead to a condition called androgen excess.
Androgen excess is a common hormonal imbalance that affects up to 7 percent of women. Symptoms of androgen excess include irregular periods, excessive body hair, and acne. Androgen excess can be caused by PCOS, an endocrine disorder that impacts the ovaries.
What Are the Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance?
There are a variety of symptoms that can signal a hormone imbalance. They vary depending on the individual and the type of hormone imbalance, but some common symptoms include:
- Weight gain or appetite changes
- Mood swings
- Anxiety or depression
- Sleep problems
- Irritability or brain fog
- Hair loss
Blood Tests to Get if You Think Your Hormones Are Unbalanced
If you're experiencing hormonal imbalance symptoms, you should get a hormone test to find out for sure. Blood tests are the most accurate way to measure hormone levels in your body. Here are the most common hormone tests that your doctor may order:
- FSH test: This test measures the levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) in your blood. FSH hormones play a role in ovulation and fertility.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test: This test measures the TSH level in your blood. TSH is a hormone that helps regulate the thyroid gland.
- Testosterone test: This test measures testosterone in your blood. Testosterone is a hormone that plays a role in sex drive, muscle mass, and fertility.
- Estrogen and progesterone test: This test measures the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your blood. Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that play a role in ovulation, fertility, and pregnancy.
How Can I Rebalance My Hormones?
Hormonal imbalances are pervasive, affecting millions of women of all ages. The symptoms can be subtle or severe, and they can wreak havoc on your health, mood, and well-being.
Luckily, there are ways to rebalance your hormones and feel like yourself again. They might include:
Eating a Hormone-Friendly Diet
Most of us are familiar with the significant hormonal players: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and cortisol. But what we may not realize is that these hormones are constantly shifting and changing, often in response to our diet.
Eating a hormone-friendly diet is one of the best ways to encourage hormonal balance. Here are a few tips:
- Avoid processed foods and eat plenty of whole foods
- Eat plenty of healthy fats
- Limit your sugar intake
- Get enough protein
- Eat plenty of fiber
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Exercise is vital for overall health, but it's also crucial for maintaining a healthy balance of hormones. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins, which have mood-boosting properties. Exercise can also help reduce stress levels, which can help balance hormones.
Managing Stress Levels
Stress can have a significant impact on our hormone levels. When we're stressed, our bodies release cortisol, the "stress hormone." Thus, it can lead to various symptoms, including weight gain, fatigue, and anxiety. Learning how to manage stress can help to reduce these symptoms and rebalance your hormones.
Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for overall health, but it's also essential for maintaining hormonal balance. When we experience sleep deprivation, our bodies release more of the stress hormone.
Lack of sleep can lead to various symptoms, including fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. Getting enough sleep is crucial for maintaining hormonal balance.
Certain supplements can help to rebalance hormones and reduce symptoms. These include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin D
While hormone imbalances can be frustrating, the good news is that they are often treatable. By making lifestyle changes and incorporating supplements into your routine, you can help to rebalance your hormones and feel like yourself again.
If you think you might be experiencing a hormone imbalance, you should talk to your doctor. They can order tests to check your hormone levels and develop a suitable treatment plan.
How Binto Can Help
There are many reasons why people might suffer from hormone imbalances, but it's essential to talk with your doctor about the diagnosis. They can order lab tests and determine what treatment would be best for you based on those tests.
Binto has created a quiz to help you find the best research-backed supplements based on professional recommendations. You don't have to wait to talk to us. You can reach us through chat or schedule a telehealth appointment with one of our healthcare providers.