Hormonal imbalance: symptoms, causes and solutions
A hormonal disorder is a disorder that affects the hormones in the human body. Our body secretes several different hormones that all have a different function.
What is a hormonal disorder
Hormones affect many things, such as the menstrual cycle and reproductive functions, stress levels, mood, sleep, metabolism, appetite and many other factors...
When hormones are perfectly balanced, they are responsible for the basic functions of our body. But when there is a hormonal imbalance, thepsychological and physical balance will be disturbed and different symptoms will appear.
What are the possible causes of a hormonal imbalance?
Hormones can be out of balance for several reasons:
Hormonal imbalances: PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome is the most common disease in women of childbearing age, affecting 1 in 10 women. PCOS is a disorder that occurs due to an excess of androgens created by the ovary. This disorder is characterized by irregular cycles, hirsutism (excessive hair growth),acne and sometimes weight gain.
Eating disorders such as bulimia oranorexia are also responsible for hormonal imbalances. Indeed, a healthy and balanced diet is essential to have a regular menstrual cycle. When you have OCD, especially anorexia, sex hormones are in deficit, which can create ovulation disorders and anovulatory cycles, and therefore irregular periods, or in some cases of severe anorexia, amenorrhea. It is estimated that 1 to 2% of the population is affected by eating disorders associated with hormonal imbalances.
Thyroid disorders are more common in women than in men. They can be characterized in different ways:
- Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism is due to an excess of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include: increased heart rate, anxiety, weight loss, tremors, nervousness. In short: the body's engine is running at a faster pace. Hyperthyroidism is less common than hypothyroidism.
- Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is, in contrast, an insufficiency of thyroid hormones. Symptoms associated with this disorder include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, slower heart rate, coldness, weight gain, irregular periods and loss of libido.
- Goiter: A goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland. It can occur as a result of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Diabetes is a hormonal disturbance of the hypothalamus. Diabetes disturbs your insulin hormones and can cause chronic fungal infections because it increases blood sugar levels and the fungi responsible for these infections crave sugar.
Hypoglycemia is a decrease in blood glucose levels. Most of the time, hypoglycemia occurs in people with diabetes.
Having low blood glucose levels can cause problems with the proper functioning of certain organs. To ensure that there is enough glucose in the blood, the brain will stimulate several organs such as the adrenal glands for adrenaline and cortisol, the pancreas for glucagon and the pituitary gland for growth hormone. Sometimes these hormones are not able to raise the blood sugar level sufficiently.
What are the symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women?
How can you tell if you are subject to hormonal imbalance? It manifests itself by several symptoms:
Disorders of the menstrual cycle in women
In the case of hormonal disorders, menstrual cycle disorders are very common, whether it be irregular periods (in terms of flow but also in terms of the duration and length of the cycle), a premenstrual syndrome with stronger pain, increased breast sensitivity...
During premenopause, it is common to experience symptoms of hormonal imbalance: it is a period of great upheaval in our bodies.
Physical and psychological symptoms
A hormonal imbalance can also be felt through physical symptoms such as weight fluctuations, acne or abnormally dry skin, excessive sweating, headaches, frequent urination, bloating, stress, difficulty concentrating...
Finally, psychological symptoms can also occur such as a decrease in libido, sleep disorders, fatigue, anxiety and irritability.
Hormonal imbalances and the contraceptive pill: what are the effects?
Some contraceptives such as the birth control pill can create or resolve hormonal imbalances.
On the contraceptive pill
When taking the contraceptive pill, an artificial menstrual cycle is created. These are hormones that mimic the menstrual cycle. Therefore, there is no hormonal imbalance. For women who have irregular cycles, the pill allows them to regulate their cycle. This is often the solution proposed to young girls with irregular periods.
When the contraceptive pill is stopped
However, when youstop taking the contraceptive pillHowever, when stopping birth control pills, whether to change the method of contraception or for a baby, it is common to have fluctuating hormone levels. This results in anovulatory cycles and secondary amenorrhea. But don't worry, in most cases everything will return to normal after a few months. If everything does not go back to normal, it means that the hormonal imbalance was already present before you started taking this contraceptive. The important thing to remember is that the pill treats the symptoms but never the cause of a hormonal imbalance.
When taking the morning-after pill
The morning-after pill provides a large dose of progestin, which can disrupt the menstrual cycle. If you take the morning-after pill, it is common to notice symptoms such as a short-lived disturbance of the period, spotting, etc.
What are the hormonal disturbances following a miscarriage?
Miscarriage is a very common phenomenon affecting one woman in four. A miscarriage does not cause any hormonal disturbance. However, you should only be concerned after 3 miscarriages: after this number, hormonal imbalance is considered as a possible cause of miscarriage.
Several hormonal disorders can cause miscarriages: a lack of progesterone or estrogen, a thyroid disorder, a prolactin that is too high, PCOS...
What treatments are available for hormone changes?
Fortunately, changes in hormone levels are not inevitable: there are solutions.
Before treatment: get blood tests
Before considering any treatment, it is important to take a blood test in order to be able to prescribe an appropriate treatment. Indeed, the treatment will depend on the cause of the problem. A blood test allows to obtain a complete hormonal assessment.
Treatments based on natural solutions
Natural solutions exist to regulate hormonal imbalance (depending on the cause), such as changes in your eating habits, activities to reduce stress, regular physical activity, improving the quality of your sleep etc.
But if the cause of the hormone treatment is more profound, you may be prescribed a drug treatment, such as birth control or a hormone-based medication. Talk to your doctor about the right medication for you.
FAQs on female hormone dysfunction
What are the signs of hormonal imbalance?
Hormonal imbalance is characterized by a menstrual cycle disorder with irregular periods, PMS more or less intense, pain, weight loss or gain, but also psychological symptoms such as stress, anxiety, irritability, decreased libido etc...
What are the solutions to restore a hormonal imbalance?
Fortunately, there are solutions to rebalance a hormonal imbalance. In order to determine the cause and propose an appropriate treatment, it is important to consult your doctor and to take a blood test to have a global analysis of your health.
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