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A guide to hormone imbalance

Laura Harcourt

Written byLaura Harcourt

Dr Tania Adib

Reviewed byDr Tania Adib

Lady in the mirror using weight dumbbells with a smiling expression


1What causes hormone imbalance?

Research suggests some factors are more likely to cause fluctuations in your hormone levels. These are: being overweight, chronic stress and more.

2Hormone imbalance symptoms

Some signs of hormone imbalance include: premenstrual syndrome (PMS), irregular periods and many other sypmtoms.

3How do I balance my hormones?

From positive lifestyle changes to vitamins and other tablets, there are several ways to help with hormonal imbalances.

Everyone has hormones – they’re an essential part of health and wellbeing. These important messengers can’t be seen by the naked eye, but they do have a huge influence on your day-to-day life. Hormones are responsible for regulating the countless different functions in your body, as they carry signals that tell your body what to do and when.1

Some of the processes that hormones control include:

  • metabolism 
  • growth and development 
  • reproduction 
  • sexual function 
  • sleep-wake cycle 
  • mood
It’s estimated there are more than 50 hormones in the human body.2 You’ve probably heard of some of the most common, such as adrenaline, cortisol and insulin, as well as the main sex hormones – oestrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. 

Hormones are produced by various glands around your body, including your pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands, and travel to the organs that need them through your bloodstream.

Your hormones need to be balanced for you to be in the best health. Unfortunately, a hormone imbalance can play havoc with everything from your appetite and sleep patterns, to whether you can grow facial hair or conceive.

What causes hormone imbalance?

Hormones form part of what is known as your endocrine system. As there are so many different hormones and so many different bodily functions, the endocrine system is extremely complex and requires a harmonious balance of hormones to keep it functioning properly. 
So, why does hormone imbalance occur? 

The complexity of the endocrine system means that there’s no single reason why you may have a hormone imbalance. However, research suggests some specific factors are more likely to cause fluctuations in your hormone levels. These are: 
  • being overweight3 
  • chronic stress4 
  • poor sleep5 
  • too little (or in some rare cases too much) exercise6 
  • a poor diet7 high consumption of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol
For people who have periods, hormone imbalance is most likely during big changes such as puberty, around the time of your period, during and after pregnancy, and throughout perimenopause (which is the time leading up to menopause).8 

With many people finding life to be busier and more stressful than ever, it’s easy to see just how quickly certain lifestyle decisions, such as choosing to have a glass of wine to relax or a reliance on takeaways and convenience food, could start to play havoc with your hormones.

Hormone imbalance symptoms

Although you can’t see your hormones, you may be able to notice when you’re experiencing a hormone imbalance. This is because any sort of hormone imbalance can cause a range of symptoms. As we’ve already mentioned, women may notice their hormones change during times such as being on your period or while pregnant.

Some signs of hormone imbalance include:
  • premenstrual syndrome (PMS) 
  • irregular periods 
  • problems conceiving/infertility
  • weight gain or loss
  • low or unusually high sex drive 
  • depression and anxiety
  • feeling tired
  • skin issues such as dryness, sensitivity, or breakouts of acne
  • digestive issues
  • vaginal dryness
  • hot flushes or night sweats
Hormone imbalance symptoms aren’t always consistent. They can come and go, and can also change depending on which hormones are out of balance.9 

For example, some women may find that they have an unusually high sex drive while pregnant, or that they have dry skin at one stage in their menstrual cycle, but oily skin at another.10 

The good news is that there are steps you can take to help steady the balance of your hormones and optimise your health and wellbeing. 

However, you should also speak to your doctor if you’re experiencing these symptoms as they could indicate another underlying condition that may require medical intervention.

How do I balance my hormones?

From positive lifestyle changes to vitamins and other tablets, there are several ways to help with hormonal imbalances. 

Some people choose to just implement one change at a time, while others look to a combination of techniques to get their symptoms under control and feel better in their own body. The choice is up to you.

Let’s take a look at some of the best research-backed techniques to use.

Love your gut

According to research published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2014, many hormones are actually produced by the beneficial bacteria in the gut.11 

You can help keep your gut healthy with a balanced diet, abundant in fruits, vegetables and whole foods. 

Some studies show fermented foods like kefirkombuchamisosauerkraut, and kimchi can increase the number of ‘good’ bacteria in your gut, so consider adding some of these to your diet as it may help balance your hormones.12

Take magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral that may help with muscle soreness and contributes to normal muscle function. Some studies have also shown that it can be useful for relieving PMS and menstrual cramps, especially when taken in combination with vitamin B6.13 

A study by the University of Edinburgh in 2019 conducted using cells in the lab, also reported that magnesium might help to regulate circadian rhythm, better known as the sleep-wake cycle.14 However, this research needs to be replicated in humans to determine whether these same effects would apply to our own bodies.

Check if weight is a risk factor

We know that losing weight is really hard. However, losing weight, if you need to, is also one of the best things you can do for your long-term health. In fact, even making some small changes to your diet can have a positive effect that helps you to lose weight.

Studies show that the regulation of certain hormones can improve after weight loss.15 For example, losing weight has been found to lower the amount of oestrogen in the female body which, in turn, can reduce the risk of breast cancer.16 

Meanwhile, losing weight can also improve insulin sensitivity, which can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, or even reverse it in people who’ve already been diagnosed with the condition.17

Get regular exercise

Being active is a very important part of overall health and wellbeing. Not only can it help you to lose any excess weight that you may be carrying, but regular exercise has many other benefits including lowering your stress levels, boosting your self-esteem and mood, helping you to get better quality sleep and more. It can also reduce your risk of major illness and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.18

Eat the right fat

Short, medium and long-chain essential fats are vital for hormone production. Eating a variety of fats may help keep inflammation low,19 boost metabolism and help you control your weight. 

Try including olive oil, flaxseeds and avocados, as well as oily fish like salmon, mackerel and trout in your diet. 

Alternatively, take an omega-3 supplement as some evidence published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition back in 2016 found that omega-3 may positively influence ovulation and female fertility.20 However, further research is needed to confirm these findings.

Vitamins for hormone balance

Certain vitamins are theorised to have a potentially positive effect in helping to balance hormones and keep their levels steady. This is because of the wide range of powerful ingredients they’re made up of, proven to support factors like your skin health, immunity, and tiredness.21 

For example, some studies have shown that vitamin E may be beneficial in helping with menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and vaginal dryness, as well as being effective at reducing skin dryness.22 

Meanwhile, during a study that involved 100 people, vitamin D was shown to potentially help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.23 

However, more research is needed into both of these vitamins to determine their true effects. Either way, they’re known to be important for your general health, so maintaining a balanced diet and spending enough time in the sunshine should do the trick!

B vitamins also play a vital role in health, so taking supplements that include vitamin B may help to regulate stress hormones.24 Good food sources of B vitamins include peas, nuts, whole grain bread, and some fresh fruits like bananas and oranges. 

Hormone-balancing vitamins are available from us in both capsule and gummy form, making it easy to find one to suit you.

The final say

While a hormone imbalance doesn’t always result in the need for medical intervention, the steps in this article may help you regulate your hormones and minimise the likelihood of experiencing unpleasant and debilitating symptoms.

You should always speak to your GP if you have any concerns about your symptoms. 

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.


  1. Hamid, A., et al. ‘13 - Hormones’. Preparation and Processing of Religious and Cultural Foods, edited by Md. Eaqub Ali and Nina Naquiah Ahmad Nizar, Woodhead Publishing, 2018:253–77. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-101892-7.00013-4.
  2. US EPA, OCSPP. Overview of the Endocrine System. 6 July 2015, https://www.epa.gov/endocrine-disruption/overview-endocrine-system.
  3. Ylli, D., et al. Endocrine Changes in Obesity. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Blackman MR, et al. editors. Endotext [Internet]. 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279053/.
  4. Ranabir, S. & Reetu, R. ‘Stress and Hormones’. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2011;15(1):18–22. https://doi.org/10.4103/2230-8210.77573.
  5. Vgontzas., A., et al. Adverse effects of modest sleep restriction on sleepiness, performance, and inflammatory cytokines. J Clin Endocrinol Metab . 2004;89(5):2119-26. doi: 10.1210/jc.2003-031562.
  6. Ennour-Idrissi., K, et al. ‘Effect of Physical Activity on Sex Hormones in Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials’. Breast Cancer Research: BCR, 2015;17:139. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13058-015-0647-
  7. Marks., V. ‘How Our Food Affects Our Hormones’. Clinical Biochemistry. 1985:18(3):149–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0009-9120(85)80099-0.
  8. Allshouse,. A., et al. ‘Menstrual Cycle Hormone Changes Associated with Reproductive Aging and How They May Relate to Symptoms’. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America, 2018;45(4):613–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ogc.2018.07.004.
  9. Cleveland Clinic. Hormonal Imbalance: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment [Internet]. [cited 2024 Feb 18]. Available from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22673-hormonal-imbalance.
  10. Fernández-Carrasco, F., et al. Changes in Sexual Desire in Women and Their Partners during Pregnancy. J Clin Med. 2020;9(2):526. doi: 10.3390/jcm9020526.
  11. Bull, M., & Plummer, N. ‘Part 1: The Human Gut Microbiome in Health and Disease’. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal, 2014;13(6):17–22.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566439/.
  12. Marco, M., et al. ‘Health Benefits of Fermented Foods: Microbiota and Beyond’. Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 2017:44:94–102.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copbio.2016.11.010.
  13. Fathizadeh, N., et al. Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndrome. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2010;15(1):401–405. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22069417.
  14. Feord, H., et al. A Magnesium Transport Protein Related to Mammalian SLC41 and Bacterial MgtE Contributes to Circadian Timekeeping in a Unicellular Green Alga. Genes (Basel). 2019;10(2):158. doi: 10.3390/genes10020158.
  15. Schwarz, N., et al. ‘A Review of Weight Control Strategies and Their Effects on the Regulation of Hormonal Balance’. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2011;2011:237932. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/237932.
  16. Campbell, K., et al. ‘Reduced-Calorie Dietary Weight Loss, Exercise, and Sex Hormones in Postmenopausal Women: Randomized Controlled Trial’. Journal of Clinical Oncology: Official Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, 2012;30(19):2314–26. https://doi.org/10.1200/JCO.2011.37.9792.
  17. Clamp, D., et al. ‘Enhanced Insulin Sensitivity in Successful, Long-Term Weight Loss Maintainers Compared with Matched Controls with No Weight Loss History’. Nutrition & Diabetes, 2017;7(6):e282. https://doi.org/10.1038/nutd.2017.31.
  18. NHS. Benefits of exercise [Internet]. [cited 2024 Apr 11]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercise-health-benefits/.
  19. Calder, C. ‘Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Inflammatory Processes’. Nutrients, 2010;2(3):355–74. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu2030355.
  20. Jurczewska, J. & Szostak-Węgierek, D. ‘The Influence of Diet on Ovulation Disorders in Women—A Narrative Review’. Nutrients, 2022;14(8):1556.  https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14081556.
  21. Gombart, A. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System–Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients. 2020;12(1):236. doi: 10.3390/nu12010236.
  22. Feduniw, S, et al. ‘The Effect of Vitamin E Supplementation in Postmenopausal Women—A Systematic Review’. Nutrients, 2022:15(1):160.  https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15010160
  23. Talaei, A., et al. ‘The Effect of Vitamin D on Insulin Resistance in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes’. Diabetology & Metabolic Syndrome, 2013;5(1):8. https://doi.org/10.1186/1758-5996-5-8
  24. Young, L., et al. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and ‘At-Risk’ Individuals. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2232. doi: 10.3390/nu11092232.


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