Hormonal imbalance symptoms happen when your body produces too little or too much of a hormone. In this post, we talk about what happens when the balance of hormones gets out of sync in females.
Painful periods, acne breakouts, weight gain and insomnia – your body will certainly make it clear when your hormone levels go awry.
But first, why are hormones important?Hormones are natural chemicals produced by your endocrine glands. There are about 50 different hormones in your body. These chemical messengers play important roles in regulating many different processes in your body. This includes everything from reproductive cycles and sexual function, to appetite, metabolism and mood.
The healthy functioning of our bodies (and minds) relies on our hormone levels being in the right balance. Even with a small shift, you’ll probably notice effects on your health and wellness.
But a steady equilibrium isn’t always possible. Hormone levels naturally fluctuate at different stages in our lives as our bodies change, develop and mature. And our bodies will definitely give us clear signs when this is happening.
10 common hormonal imbalance symptoms in females
- Heavy or painful periods
- Insomnia and trouble sleeping
- Skin problems
- Mood swings
- Fertility problems
- Vaginal dryness
- Weak bones
- Unexplained weight gain
- Low libido
What causes hormonal imbalance in women?
Changes in female hormones are behind many of the hormonal imbalances in women. Some fluctuations are expected aspects of natural aging. But other changes occur when your endocrine glands get production levels wrong for some reason.
When do most women experience hormonal imbalances?
Common times for females to experience natural fluctuations include:
- Puberty: Shifts in hormones regulate changes to your body as it grows and matures.
- Menstrual cycle: Estrogen levels change throughout the menstrual cycle. It’s highest during ovulation and lowest immediately before, during, and right after your period.
- Pregnancy: Women experience a sudden surge in estrogen and progesterone in pregnancy.
- Premenstrual: syndrome (PMS): PMS happens when estrogen and progesterone levels fall suddenly after ovulation and before your period starts (if you’re not pregnant.) More than 90% of women experience some premenstrual symptoms.
- Menopause: During menopause estrogen levels decline.
- Perimenopause or pre-menopause: Estrogen levels also begin to gradually decline in the lead up to menopause.
Other hormonal imbalances in women
All of the above periods in a woman’s life involve a predictable estrogen imbalance. But sometimes, your body will throw in some less standard hormonal fluctuations too. Here are four common examples.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome affects about one in every five women in the UK. Women with PCOS have high estrogen and testosterone levels. This affects the way the ovaries work causing symptoms such as irregular periods, unwanted hair on your body and face, and acne. It can also make it more difficult to conceive.
Sometimes the ovaries are removed during a hysterectomy. This can lead to a sharp drop in estrogen levels, causing menopausal symptoms, regardless of your age.
Early menopause (sometimes called premature ovarian failure, or primary ovarian insufficiency) happens when periods stop before the age of 45. Sometimes this is a side effect of a treatment. But it’s also possible for a woman's ovaries to stop making normal levels of certain hormones naturally. This causes periods to stop or become infrequent.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
Like PMS, premenstrual dysphoric disorder also happens in the week or two before your period starts, triggered by the fall in hormone levels after ovulation. However, PMDD causes more severe symptoms than PMS. This can include severe depression, irritability, and tension. It affects about 5% of women of reproductive age.
Can anything help to restore the balance?Conventional hormonal imbalance treatments include hormonal contraceptives and hormone therapy (for example, hormone replacement therapy or HRT.) However, there are also some natural remedies for hormonal imbalance that can complement any treatments. Here are a few examples of how changes in diet, exercise and lifestyle can help.
- In overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome, weight loss of just 5% can lead to improvements in symptoms.
- For hot flushes during the menopause, it can help to wear light clothing, reduce stress levels, keep your bedroom cool at night, and take a cool shower.
- More research is needed, but some studies show that vitamin B6 supplements could help to reduce PMS symptoms.
- Regular activity can help to reduce the raised risk of osteoporosis and heart disease that’s sometimes linked to the decrease in estrogen during menopause.
Summary: Can self-care help female hormonal imbalance symptoms?
Making healthy changes to diet and lifestyle can help relieve some female hormonal imbalance symptoms. So, many women decide to give these self-care options a try. However, if your symptoms are severe, your doctor can recommend hormone imbalance treatment options.
Last updated: 1 July 2020