I have had so many conversation’s recently with so many different women, but we all seem to have similar health issues. We have been feeling exhausted, terrible mood swings, no sex drive, struggling to lose weight, never feeling satisfied after eating. If this sounds like you too, it may be a Hormonal Imbalance.
Many of us are stressed, tired, would love to lose a few pounds, but it seems to be more than that. They have been to their doctor, had blood tests, but they all come back “normal”, so what is going on. Hormones affect our brain, heart, bones and muscles and are an essential part of every cell in our body. Hormones also help to regulate metabolism and appetite, heart rate, sleep cycles, and affects our mood and stress levels. So you can imagine how you feel when all this is out of balance. You can have so many symptoms but still manage to function on a daily basis. An imbalance occurs when there is too much or too little of a hormone.
Your hormones include adrenaline, insulin, cortisol & thyroid hormones, along with progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone. With all of these raging around our bodies is it any wonder we feel imbalanced? It is normal for your levels to shift and change at different times of your life like pregnancy or menopause. But if you’re experiencing any of the below symptoms it might be because you’re suffering from hormone imbalance.
Signs or symptoms of a hormone imbalance
Some of the signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance can be anything from:
Exhaustion / fatigue
Tearfulness / irritability
Depression / low mood
Brain fog / forgetfulness
Pain & stiffness in your joints
These are just a few, you can also suffer from skin breakouts, thinning hair, muscle weakness, erratic periods, food cravings, tender breasts, cold hand and feet. This is a long list of issues, but the question is how many do you suffer from and what is causing them? Hormones are so mysterious, don’t we all dread “that time of the month”. Our periods alone can be a time of crazy mood swings, cravings and generally not feeling ourselves.
Progesterone, released by the ovaries, helps you sleep. But too much can make you tired, and too little makes it hard to sleep and stay asleep. Oestrogen decreases in perimenopause and can contribute to night sweats and hot flashes. Declining oestrogen also causes brain fog and difficulty concentrating. It also affects neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Testosterone thought of as a male hormone, but women have it too. Low testosterone can cause low libido. If you suffer from conditions such as Diabetes, Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism or Addison’s disease, to name a few, they can also trigger a hormone imbalance.
What can we do to help horone imbalance?
You should of course always seek medical advice when it comes to your health. Visit your GP and discuss any concerns you may have. They will probably send you off or blood tests, or there are blood tests you can do yourself. There are online kits you can send through the post and receive your results in around a week. Whilst there isn’t an actual test for hormone imbalance, the blood tests will check your thyroid levels, and your oestrogen, testosterone and cortisol levels.
But we can also help ourselves by looking after ourselves. Avoid drinking alcohol and no smoking. Also try to avoid too much caffeine, sugar and sodium. Make sure you eat enough protein and healthy fats at mealtimes and try to get lots of sleep and regular exercise. Manage your stress levels and try relaxation techniques like meditation.
Women are very good at just getting on with things, and ignoring health issues, especially mild ones. So we may have a long list of symptoms, but thanks to caffeine, sugar and painkillers and a lack of time to be ill, we carry on every day just putting up with how we feel.
But with so many hormones in our bodies, how do we know which ones are imbalanced? Firstly, keep a diary on how you feel, noting any changes around your period. Do you crave sugar at certain times, or feel like you can’t function without copious amounts of caffeine. Is your sleep poor? This could mean it is your cortisol and insulin hormones playing up, the blood sugar and stress hormone. Try and eat well so your blood sugar stays balanced and you don’t have spikes and drops in it.
Supplements may also help. Vitamin D is important for your thyroid and insulin levels, B vitamins are another important one too. Vitamin B3 or Niacin, as it is also called, is a good one for stress, it helps you relax and get a better nights sleep. B9 is the brain food vitamin, B1 for energy and clear thinking, B2, the detox one, B12, the important one for energy, metabolism and memory. There are Complex B vitamin supplements that you can get from any health shop. Magnesium is hugely important for balancing hormones, it can help with PMS, it balances our mood and helps to regulate our body clocks.
You can also look for an app to download, that you can enter information in, helps you keep track of your mood and cycle, as well as giving you useful tips and advice. There are some really good ones out there.
What to do now?
Well after all of that information, what do you do now? Firstly, write down any symptoms you have, no matter how irrelevant you think they are. See one of our specialists or your GP, discuss your symptoms and be honest about how you are feeling. They may send you to get some blood tests and then go from there.
Do some research for yourself. Change your diet, eat more healthy, cut back on sugar, caffeine and alcohol and see how it makes you feel. Incorporate some various forms of exercise, try yoga, which is great for both body and mind. There is no quick fix, unfortunately, so sometimes it can be a case of trial and error.
But know you are not alone, talk to friends and you might be surprised by how many are going through something similar. The world of hormones is a minefield, so don’t punish yourself for not feeling 100% all the time.