When you have a hormonal imbalance, you have too much or too little of a certain hormone. Even tiny changes can have serious effects throughout your whole body.
Think of hormones like a cake recipe. Too much or too little of any one ingredient affects the final product. While some hormone levels fluctuate throughout your lifetime and may just be the result of natural aging, other changes occur when your endocrine glands get the recipe wrong.
The symptoms of a hormonal imbalance depend on which glands and hormones are affected. Your hormones play an integral role in your overall health. Because of that, there’s a broad range of symptoms that could signal a hormonal imbalance. Your symptoms will depend on which hormones or glands aren’t working properly.
Symptoms associated with the more common causes of hormonal imbalances include:
The symptoms that I struggled with the most were hot flashes and night sweats, weight gain, mood swings, and brain fog.
According to the several studies, we can blame it on the ovaries, those walnut-sized organs that release eggs and produce female hormones. As we get older, perhaps in our late 30s, our ovaries start to produce less estrogen and progesterone, the female hormones that regulate menstruation.
The production of female hormones ebbs and flows over the next 10 years. A woman usually experiences menopause, or her final period, shortly after the age of 50.
Other factors can cause hormone imbalance and lead to the onset of menopause. For example, I started menopause after going through a total hysterectomy. The doctor removed my uterus, both of my ovaries and my cervix. This procedure threw my body into a condition called surgical menopause, and I experienced most of the symptoms were going to talk about in the next section.
Too much caffeine acts just like too little sleep. It ramps up the system, increases heart rate, improves alertness, and changes the way the brain uses hormones.
Too much alcohol adds to estrogen dominance, limits the functioning of the pancreas, and lowers testosterone levels.
One effective way, especially for women, can deal with imbalanced hormones is to reduce the amount of stress in their lives. Another is to increase exercise to an appropriate level.
Beneficial exercises include 45-minute workout sessions, circuit training (improves insulin response, increases testosterone and stimulating growth hormones), yoga (decreases adrenalin and boosts GABA, the calming neurotransmitter) and weight training (stimulates growth hormones).
Some of the vitamins women need in their diets to support healthy hormone levels include vitamin B6, vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium. These vitamins and minerals can be consumed as supplements or in foods like whole grains, nuts, legumes, vegetables, seafood, and poultry.
Herbs also can be valuable in helping to balance hormones. There are basically two broad categories of herbs to be considered: phytoestrogenic and non-phytoestrogenic.
The phytoestrogenic herbs contain plant-based estrogen compounds. When these are eaten, they add plant-based estrogens to the body. This may lead the body to not produce estrogen of its own. While herbs can be beneficial in re-balancing hormones at any age, you must be careful in using phytoestrogenic herbs since they contain estrogen compounds.
Ashwagandha is a root herb that is said to help with sleep, cognitive functions, and sexual arousal. Improving sleep can be a general help in dealing with symptoms of hormone imbalance. This herb draws blood to the women’s reproductive organs and increases sexual drive and sensitivity. Ashwagandha can also help with hot flashes, depression, and anxiety.
Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is one of the oldest phytoestrogenic herbs used to help balance hormones and battle the symptoms of menopause. This herb acts like estrogen in the body and relieves hot flashes. It is said to decrease inflammation often seen in hormone imbalance.
Black cohosh also helps regulate menstrual periods and relaxes the uterine muscles to help with menstrual cramps.