Hormonal imbalance symptoms in women: Signs you must know

Know how to spot hormonal imbalance symptoms! Get down to discovering the cause behind it and restoring hormonal balance for your wellness.
Hormonal imbalance in women
Be aware about hormonal imbalance symptoms. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Shwetha S Kamath Published: 5 Oct 2023, 01:15 pm IST
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Ever feel like your energy tank is always running on empty? Do you experience frustrating weight fluctuations, unpredictable mood swings and irritability despite a healthy lifestyle? Do you count sheep instead of sleeping? Ladies, it is your hormones calling the shots! Many women will encounter periods of hormonal imbalance over the course of their lives. These imbalances often occur during significant life stages such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, and during the aging process. However, some individuals grapple with ongoing irregular hormonal imbalance symptoms.

What are hormones?

According to the US National Library of Medicine, physiologist Ernest Henry Starling used the term hormones for the first time in 1905. He described hormone as a compound that is produced in a secretory tissue and transported in the blood circulatory system to target tissues, where they induce functional changes. These chemicals control the body’ physiological functions ranging from metabolism to behaviour and more. Some common hormones include progesterone, estrogen, LH, FSH, insulin, cortisol, melatonin, oxytocin, dopamine and testosterone.

Common hormonal imbalance symptoms in women

Beyond the fundamentals, understanding whether you have a hormone imbalance requires a keen eye for your body’s signals. Hormonal imbalance isn’t a one-size-fits-all issue. While irregular periods, mood swings, and acne often take centerstage, here are some other subtle hormonal imbalance symptoms:

* Menstrual patterns: Irregular periods, heavy or light bleeding, and severe PMS symptoms can be indicators of hormonal fluctuations.

* Mood swings: Sudden changes in mood, increased irritability, or feelings of anxiety and depression may be linked to hormonal changes.

Hormonal imbalance causes mood swings
Hormonal imbalance causes mood swings. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

* Skin troubles: Acne, unusual breakouts or changes in skin texture can result from hormonal imbalances.

* Fatigue: If you are perpetually tired and burnt out, your hormones, especially thyroid, may be playing tricks on you.

* Weight changes: Despite all the efforts in the gym and chronic dieting, weight loss never feels easy. Hormone imbalances, especially those linked to insulin, could be the culprits.

* Hot flashes: The sudden fiery tango of hot flashes, often experienced during menopause, is a tell-tale sign of hormonal shifts.

* Sleep disturbances: Hormonal imbalances can disrupt your sleep patterns, leading to insomnia or midnight rendezvous with the alarm clock.

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* Hair problems: Thinning hair or significant hair loss? Your androgens and thyroid hormones might be staging a not-so-pretty play on your scalp.

* Digestive issues: Hormonal fluctuations can disrupt digestion, causing bloating, constipation or diarrhea, making your tummy the stage for their theatrics.

How do I know if I have a hormone imbalance?

Once you notice signs of hormonal imbalance and suspect your hormones are out of sync, the next step is to consult a healthcare expert and undergo a thorough hormonal imbalance diagnosis. They might start with a blood test to measure hormone levels such as thyroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These tests work best in the morning when your hormones are feeling more settled.

Hormonal imbalance diagnosis
Visit a medical expert for hormonal imbalance symptoms. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

While consulting healthcare experts helps in definitive diagnosis, are you wondering how to test hormonal imbalance at home? There are a couple of at-home tricks that can help you get more acquainted with your hormones.

* For starters, you can keep an eye on your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) each morning. It is like a little detective work for your menstrual cycle, offering clues about potential hormonal imbalances.

* Another option is to explore hormone testing kits offered by various companies for home use. These kits allow you to collect saliva or urine samples, which are then sent to a lab for analysis. However, there will be variations in the accuracy of the results.

* For accurate hormonal testing, timing is of the essence. There are three key moments to consider when scheduling your tests. Firstly, during the menstrual phase (typically days 1-5 of your cycle), which is the ideal time for measuring baseline hormone levels. Secondly, testing around days 12-16 of your cycle, when ovulation typically occurs, can provide valuable insights into progesterone levels. Lastly, depending on your specific symptoms and suspected imbalances, your healthcare provider might recommend testing at different points in your cycle to tailor the assessment to your unique needs.

What causes hormonal imbalance in women?

To restore balance, we must uncover the culprits behind hormonal imbalance. Many pieces make up this puzzling picture, with common factors at play.

1. Age: As we age, our bodies often throw us a curveball by triggering those not-so-welcome menopausal symptoms due to declining levels of estrogen and progesterone.

2. PCOS: In the case of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) sufferers, they have elevated androgen levels, irregular menstrual cycles, and insulin resistance in the mix.

3. Thyroid: Thyroid disorders such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism disrupt the balance of thyroid hormones, impacting metabolism and overall well-being.

4. Stress: Chronic stress, with its surge in cortisol levels, throws other hormonal systems into disarray, causing disharmony.

5. Contraception: Even certain contraceptive methods can have their say, influencing hormone levels and occasionally bringing about side effects.

Contraception may affect hormones
Contraceptive pills may affect your hormone balance. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to fix hormonal imbalance?

Now that we’ve uncovered the secrets behind disrupted hormonal balance, how do you regain your equilibrium? There are some lifestyle strategies and modifications to consider.

* Change your lifestyle

Start with some lifestyle tweaks – embrace a balanced diet, get moving with regular exercise, and pick up stress-busting techniques.

* Hormone Replacement Therapy

In specific situations, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) might be recommended to ease those pesky menopausal symptoms.

* Medicines

Medications like oral contraceptives or insulin-sensitizing drugs can be a helpful ally in managing hormonal disorders like PCOS.

* Supplements and remedies

You can also explore natural remedies such as herbal supplements, acupuncture, and some dietary adjustments, but remember to chat with a healthcare professional before making big changes.

* Surgical procedures

In severe scenarios, surgical options like removing ovarian cysts or considering thyroid surgery could be on the table to help you find your equilibrium again.

Hormonal imbalance in women is a common chapter in the book of life, but with the right guidance, you can author your own path to balance and well-being!

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About the Author

Dr Shwetha S Kamath is a consultant of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Advanced Laparoscopy, Infertility and High-risk Pregnancy, at Birth Right by Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Hebbal, Bengaluru. ...Read More

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