Hormones and weight are connected. Yes, and it’s a pretty important connection too! So today we are going to talk about the connection between hormones and weight. This might be something that you already know or something that you have noticed within your own body.
A small note to start
First of all, I think it is important to say that it is not my intention to lecture anyone about their weight. Or to make anyone feel like there is anything wrong with how their body looks. The purpose of this article is just to provide information. If you have struggled with your weight or your hormones and wondered how they are connected then hopefully this will be helpful.
Remember that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Simply looking at someone’s body very rarely tells you anything about their health.
Which hormones are we talking about?
Our bodies have so many different hormones we couldn’t possibly talk about them all in one article. There are specific hormones whose job is to regulate hunger and fullness. These hormones control our appetite and directly influence our metabolism and our weight and include for example Leptin and Ghrelin. But these are not the hormones we are going to talk about today.
This article is about the “female reproductive hormones” and how they interact with our weight. Estrogen and progesterone are usually thought of as hormones that just control the menstrual cycle.
But they actually affect lots of other things too, including our weight.
Are weight and hormones connected?
If you have been with us for a while you will already know that hormones are linked with almost every other function of our bodies. Our hormones affect the functioning of all sorts of other organ systems. And in turn, our hormones are affected by other organs. Fat is one such organ. And estrogen and weight are closely linked.
Hormonal imbalances can affect your weight, and your weight can affect your hormones as well.
How does my weight affect my hormones?
It is usually being overweight that is discussed in the media in terms of health. It is true that being overweight can be associated with hormonal imbalances but so can being underweight. Nutrition, diet, and the amount of fat tissue we have are very interconnected with our hormones.
How does being underweight affect my hormones?
Being underweight can wreak all sorts of havoc on our bodies. It can affect our bones, teeth, our hearts, and lots of other organ systems. In terms of our hormones, the main noticeable difference is that your periods might stop.
This can also happen during very extreme, rapid weight loss or times of very intense exercise. If we think about it in terms of biology, the purpose of the menstrual cycle and the hormones that control it is to prepare for and then sustain a pregnancy.
The system exists so that we are able to reproduce.
If our body is in such a state that it does not have the energy reserves to sustain a pregnancy then the system will shut down. This might be because you are exercising too much, not eating enough, or a combination of both leading to being underweight. Of course, there are also many medical conditions that can lead to people being underweight which can also affect their hormones.
When this system shuts down, your body stops producing estrogen and progesterone in the usual way and as such, it is reasonably common for people to lose their periods if they are very underweight.
Small side note
It is important to remember that “periods” that you have while on the pill (combined hormonal birth control) are not “natural” periods. They are being induced by the gap in the pills. This means that if you are very underweight you might continue bleeding if you are on the pill. This is not a sign that your weight is healthy. I only say this because when I was severely underweight my periods continued because I was on the pill. I used this as a sign that I was fine because I thought that if I was really not healthy then my periods would stop.
How does being overweight affect my hormones?
Here’s the thing, fat tissue produces estrogen. We all have fat tissue, it is an essential organ that has many important functions in our bodies. The more fat tissue we have though, the more estrogen we produce. This can cause a disruption to the balance of hormones that are usually predominantly produced by the ovaries.
This is also why some people who are overweight struggle with their fertility. The hormone systems are getting confusing signals (estrogen from both the ovaries and the fat tissue) which disrupts the coordination of ovulation and the menstrual cycle.
Could my hormones make it hard for me to lose weight?
They could be.
Medical conditions that involve hormonal imbalances can make it really hard for people that want to lose weight. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism, and diabetes are a few examples of such conditions.
What can I do about it if my hormones are affecting my weight?
If you have a medical condition that is affecting your weight then the first step is understanding the connection between the two.
There are often medications that can help with the hormonal imbalance and make it easier to lose weight (if that is what you want!). If you want to know more about this then speak to a trusted healthcare professional about the options for you.
What if I don’t want to take medication?
There are also a lot of other hormonal imbalances that might be causing you to have trouble with your weight. Medication is not the only way to balance your hormones and there are a lot of other things that you could try.
Diet, lifestyle, stress, sleep, and exercise can all affect your hormones. Making sure you are prioritizing yourself and making time to stay healthy is a good place to start.
These articles might be helpful if you are looking for ways to balance your hormones naturally:
- Hormone Balancing Diet: Keep Your Hormones Healthy
NOTE: if you have a medical diagnosis, it is always a good idea to talk to a health professional about the options that will work for you.
So, what now?
I hope you now have a better understanding of how our weight and our hormones are connected. If you are feeling good and healthy and aren’t struggling with any symptoms of hormonal imbalance then this was (hopefully) just interesting but slightly irrelevant information for you. If you are having trouble with your weight or your hormones though, I hope you feel a bit more empowered to talk to a medical professional or ask for help.
Talking to your doctor is a good place to start if you are wanting help with your weight or with hormonal imbalance.
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