Hormonal imbalances are majorly responsible for several unwanted symptoms occuring in the body, ranging from unnecessary weight gain to itchy skin or even mood swings. What are hormones? They are the chemicals produced by glands in the endocrine system, which then get released in the blood. An imbalance occurs when there is too much or too less of a hormone in the body. Your hormones are crucial for regulating many body processes such as appetite and metabolism, sleeping patterns, reproductive cycles, sexual function, body temperature and even your mood. Even a little imbalance in these hormones can shake up your overall health and wellbeing.
The hormonal levels fluctuate naturally during different life phases, most visibly when puberty hits and in women during their periods, pregnancy and menopause. Your hormones are also interlinked with lifestyle. They can get affected by a sedentary lifestyle and also lead to certain health conditions. It is important to be aware about these symptoms so that they are noticeable. So that you can get them checked by a healthcare expert from proper medical diagnosis and treatment. Hormonal imbalance can be controlled with alternative therapies and medications, which bring you back in good health. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Deepa Dewan, Associate Director & Head of unit, Obstetrics And Gynaecology, Max hospital, Gurgaon, about the main signs of hormonal imbalance in women.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance
Hormonal imbalances mainly occur when there is excess or too less of a particular hormone in your blood. Hormones play a vital role in the body and even mild imbalance can lead to major side effects in the entire body. Hormones are essential for managing most major bodily functions, so a hormonal imbalance can have a deep effect on a lot of processes. Therefore, an imbalance in the body shows clear alerting symptoms. As per Dr. Deepa, here are the main signs of hormonal imbalance in women:
1. Weight gain
Unexplained weight gain is very commonly experienced symptom of hormonal imbalance. It is more common in women, it can be due to the underfunctioning of thyroid glands, i.e producing less thyroid hormone which regulates the metabolism in body. Other hormonal imbalance triggering conditions can be PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) which causes cysts on the ovaries. Menopausal phase can also result in weight gain. The body fat develops mainly near the lower abdomen.
2. Mood swings
Hormones extensively impact our mood because it has an effect on neurotransmitters in our body including serotonin which is responsible for a happy feeling. Fluctuations in estrogen levels in our body can affect your mood few days before and during your periods which is known as PMS. Mood swings are also common during menopausal and pre-menopausal stage (before menopause when you start experiencing irregular periods). Some changes in lifestyle and certain food items can help you overcome this phase in a easier way.
3. Poor sleep
Women might also experience more hormonal imbalance due to menopause, pre-menopause which they have naturally in their life cycle. Poor quality sleep can be due to pain during menstruation or due to hot flushes (mostly during pregnancy), or due to normal hormonal changes in body. You might have disturbed sleeping patterns, which leads to added stress. You can try relaxation techniques and prescribed medications for the same.
4. Night sweats
Night sweats mostly occur in women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), though they can also occur after your menses begin. Your hormones fluctuate as a natural part of the menstrual cycle. But, it can also give birth to some symptoms including night sweats. Particularly, changes in estrogen and progesterone hormone levels can also play a major role in triggering PMS symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats.
5. Fertility issues
Prolonged imbalanced hormones can sometimes also lead to fertility issues. With changing hormones, women generally start loosing their fertility after the age of 35. Certain health problems such as PCOS can also be a cause of reduced fertility in women. You must see a gynaecologist if you are facing any symptoms. Being cautious and aware about our body is good for us. Certain simple blood tests can give you clarity about your health.
6. Weak bones
After the age of 35, a woman's body starts to lose calcium from their backbone. Calcium is also depleted from the body while mother breastfeeds the baby, and the mother doesn't get enough nutrition. Imbalance in estrogen levels can also cause weak bones. Women should take enough calcium intake to fulfill the loss. You can talk to your dietician or gynaecologist about the right solution for weak bones.
Acne is also a common symptom of hormonal imbalance in women. Chronic acne in adults is a symptom of low levels of estrogen and progesterone and high levels of androgen hormones and can also show polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Just like that, hormonal imbalances during pregnancy or menopause can also make your skin itchy as well as dry. Even thyroid can also cause skin problems. If you are aware that a prolonged skin problem is being caused by hormonal balance, then you can talk to a women’s health expert for diagnosis and further medical treatment for the underlying condition. You can also try some home remedies to treat acne and other skin problems by hormonal imbalance.
A lot of women experience headaches because of hormonal imbalances during their menstrual cycle, pregnancy or even menopause. The pain varies from being mild to severe in every woman. Maintaining a symptom diary and discussing the same with your doctor can help in identifying the triggers of your headaches. Eating small and frequent meals, along with a proper sleeping cycle can help in getting rid of the pain. If you are suffering from regular attacks, your doctor might prescribe anti-migraine medicines. Even vaginal dryness is also a symptom of hormonal imbalance in women.
9. Heavy, irregular or painful periods
If heavy, irregular or painful menses are accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal pain, a frequent need to urinate, lower back pain, constipation and painful intercourse, then you may have fibroids. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that grow in or around the womb. The actual cause of fibroids development is unknown, but this can happen due to increased levels of estrogen hormone, and the family history factor has a major contribution in this. In severe cases or if medication does not help with the symptoms, surgery might be required to remove the fibroids.
10. Digestion problems
Hormone imbalance can also cause many digestive problems in a woman's body. Women may have diarrhea or even constipation because of fluctuating levels of estrogen. Fluctuating levels of progesterone can sometimes lead to expression of more male characteristics like hoarse voice and excessive body hair. Therefore, you can take care of the digestion problems by talking to the doctor and getting appropriate medical treatment for the same.
So, these were the main symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women by Dr. Deepa Dewan. Everyone has to experience the hormonal imbalance caused by natural menstrual cycle or other big changes in their life. However, hormonal imbalances can also happen because of the misfunction of the endocrine glands. It is important for everyone to maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid this imbalance. This can only happen if you consume a healthy diet and engage into daily physical activity.
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