What happens to your body when you suffer from hormonal imbalance?
31-10-2018 | Posted By: Chhavi | 975 View(s)
Have you become moody? Have you suddenly gained a lot of weight? Well, your hormones might be to blame. Many times when we see changes in our body, rarely do we feel that it must be because of hormonal imbalance. However, there are times when our hormones go berserk and cause a lot of health problems. Hormonal imbalances occur when there is too little or too much of a hormone in the bloodstream. Hormones have a pivotal role in the body, which is why even minute hormonal imbalances can cause side effects throughout the body. But what actually happens when you suffer from hormonal imbalances? Don’t worry because we have all the answers for you. Let us understand what happens to our body when we suffer from hormonal imbalances. But first, let us know what hormones are.
What are Hormones?
Hormones are chemicals that function as messengers between body systems to regulate your behaviour and physiology, such as metabolism, respiration, digestion, sleep, stress, reproduction, mood, and so on. They are produced by the glands in the endocrine system and travel through the bloodstream to the organs and tissues, delivering messages that tell the body organs what to do and when to do it.
Hormones play a vital role in regulating major bodily processes, which is why a hormonal imbalance can impact many bodily functions.
Hormones help to regulate:
• Heart rate
• Sleep cycles
• Metabolism and appetite
• Reproductive cycles
• Sexual function
• Stress levels
• General growth and development
• Body temperature
Hormones tell your body whether you are sleepy, stressed, or hungry. It also tells you when you need to calm down, when you need to sleep and when to stop eating. There are many hormones that regulate our bodily functions such as oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, leptin, cortisol, melatonin, and so on.
Sex hormones control many influential processes in the body such as menopause, hair growth, pregnancy, puberty, hair complexion, skin complexion and so on. However, hormones play a major role in fat storage and muscle loss too.
In fact, men have ‘female’ hormones and women have ‘male’ hormones too.
Oestrogen is a primarily female hormone that regulates reproductive system and stimulates fertility and libido. It develops female characteristics such as breasts, hips and bottom.
This is a hormone which plays a key role in the production of other sex and stress hormones. It regulates pregnancy, menstruation and improves sleep quality too.
It is a primary male hormone that is responsible for fat gain. It stimulates muscle growth, body hair and sexual desire.
All of these hormones function differently in certain areas of the body. They can either complement each other or even function as opposites. This is the reason why it is essential for these hormones to be present in the right ratio for a healthy hormone balance.
What Happens when We Suffer from a Hormonal Imbalance?
1. Sudden Weight Gain
Have you gained weight all of a sudden? Maybe, your hormones are to blame. Many people have underlying hormonal imbalances that make it difficult for them to maintain a healthy weight. If you have gained weight all of a sudden, you should get a health checkup done to understand the cause of weight gain.
2. Low Libido
One of the major symptoms of hormonal imbalance is low libido. This starts with disturbed sleep because with a lack of quality sleep, our sex hormone production can diminish.
3. Anxiety, Mood Swings, and Depression
Having mood swings? Do you feel anxious all the time? Anxiety, depression, and mood swings are symptoms that you have a hormonal imbalance.
4. Insomnia and Lack of Quality Sleep
Lack of good quality sleep is one of the most obvious symptoms of hormonal imbalances. Insomnia occurs when stress and cortisol levels increase, which directly causes a lot of hormonal imbalances.
5. Problems with Digestion
Poor digestion, stomach pain, gas, and bloating are common hormonal problems that are not generally associated with a hormonal imbalance but may be associated with eating too much or eating bad foods.
6. Hunger Cravings
Do you feel hungry all the time? Do you eat way more than you should have? The common causes of hunger cravings are insulin resistance, adrenal fatigue, and other hormonal imbalances. If you feel have hunger cravings all the time or you have started eating more than you did, consult a doctor.
7. Night Sweats
Night sweats and hot flashes are symptoms of a hormonal imbalance. Our emotions are the trigger that increases internal temperature.
Do you feel weak all the time? It is normal to feel weak and sluggish after spending a hectic day. However, feeling tired all the time may be a sign of a hormonal imbalance.
Other Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance:
• Changes in sensitivity to cold and heat
• Dry skin
• Skin Rashes
• Changes in blood pressure
• Change in heart rate
• Weak bones
• Increased thirst
• Puffy neck
• Blurred vision
• Breast tenderness
Hormonal Imbalances in Women
Women experience many periods of hormonal imbalance throughout their lifetime, especially during:
• Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding
Women have different endocrine organs and cycles which is why they are at greater risk of developing various types of hormonal imbalance disorders than men.
Medical conditions that cause hormonal imbalances in women include:
• PCOS, i.e. polycystic ovary syndrome
• birth control medications
• hormone replacement
• Menopause at an early stage
• primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)
• ovarian cancer
Symptoms of hormonal imbalances in women include:
• heavy, or painful periods
• Irregular periods
• Weak bones and bone pain
• hot flashes and night sweats
• dryness in the vaginal area
• Increased hair growth on the back, face, neck and chest
• breast tenderness
• Poor digestion
• acne problems during or just before menstruation
• uterine bleeding which is not associated with menstruation
• Sudden weight gain
• Hair loss or hair thinning
• skin tags or abnormal growths
• deepening of the voice
• clitoral enlargement
Hormonal Imbalances in Men
Just like women, men too experience natural periods of hormonal imbalance during their lifetime.
Causes of hormonal imbalances in men are:
Medical conditions that cause hormonal imbalances in men include:
• Prostate cancer
• Low testosterone
Symptoms of hormonal imbalances in men are:
• erectile dysfunction (ED)
• overdevelopment of breast tissue
• low sperm count
• reduced muscle mass
• reduced sex drive
• reduced body hair growth
• breast tenderness
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
Some of the common causes of hormonal imbalance are:
• Nutrient and vitamin deficiencies in the body
• Thyroid disorders: Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism
• Hormone therapy
• Certain medications
• Eating disorders
• Cancer treatment
• Contraceptive pills
• Primary ovarian insufficiency
• Cushing’s syndrome
• Being overweight
If you experience any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, go for a health checkup to understand what is the cause of hormonal imbalance.
How to Treat Hormonal Imbalance?
Treatment for hormonal imbalances varies depending on the cause of the problem. Every person may require a different type of treatment for hormonal imbalances.
Treatment options for women with hormone imbalance disorders include:
1.Birth Control and Hormone Control
Women who are not trying to get pregnant are given medications containing forms of progesterone and estrogen to help regulate irregular menstrual cycles and symptoms. Birth control medications can be provided as a patch, pill, shot, ring, or an intrauterine device (IUD).
2. Vaginal Estrogen
People who experience vaginal dryness can apply creams that contain estrogen to reduce symptoms. They can also use tablets containing estrogen to reduce vaginal dryness.
3. Hormone Replacement Medications
Medications are available to reduce symptoms associated with menopause, such as night sweats and hot flashes.
This cream is given to women dealing with the problem of excessive facial growth.
5. Anti-Androgen Medications
For acne and excessive hair growth or hair loss, medications are given that block the predominately male-sex hormone androgen.
6. Clomiphene (Clomid) and letrozole (Femara)
These medications help to stimulate ovulation in people with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who are trying to become pregnant. Those with PCOS and infertility problems may also be given injections of gonadotropins to help increase the chances of pregnancy.
7. Assisted Reproductive Technology
IVF, i.e. In vitro fertilization may be used to help those with PCOS get pregnant.
What are the Natural Ways to Treat Hormonal Imbalance?
A. Follow a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy and nutritious diet is one of the best ways to keep your hormones balanced. Here are some of the foods, herbs, and supplements that you should add in your daily diet to fight hormonal imbalance.
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains a lot of healthy medium-chain fatty acids that provide building blocks for hormones. These fatty acids help to reduce inflammation within your body that might have occurred due to hormonal imbalance. It also helps to boost metabolism, reduce stress and keep you healthy overall.
Take one to two tablespoons of 100 per cent virgin coconut oil and consume daily. You can use coconut oil in salad dressing and smoothies, or you can also use it as cooking oil.
Do this at least two times a day.
Ashwagandha is a highly significant and healthy adaptogenic herb that can help you deal with hormonal imbalance. It helps to relieve stress and anxiety which are the major causes or hormonal imbalance. It also helps to treat thyroid hormone imbalance by stimulating thyroid hormone activity.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids possess excellent anti-inflammatory properties that help in keeping hormone levels balanced. Omega-3 fatty acids provide building blocks to create hormones. These fatty acids also help a lot in reducing the inflammation caused by hormonal imbalance.
Consume 250 – 500 mg supplements of omega-3 fatty acid supplements every day. You can also eat fatty fish like sardines and salmon. Consume this once every day.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps in supporting adrenal health and hence consume foods rich in vitamin C is an excellent way to regulate your hormones.
You have to make sure that you eat 250 to 500 mg of vitamin C every day. Eat foods that contain vitamin C such as oranges, lemons, green leafy vegetables, and so on. You can also take additional supplements. However, you must make sure to consult a doctor before taking any supplements.
Avocado contains monounsaturated, saturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids have amazing anti-inflammatory properties that help to treat hormonal imbalance. Eating avocados regularly can help you promote heart health and also ensure an adequate supply of fibre and nutrients required for good health.
Take one avocado and peel it properly. Now cut it into small cubes and add them to your favourite salad. You can also blend them with honey and nut milk to make a healthy smoothie. You can consume this every day.
Yoghurt contains probiotics that can help to repair your gut lining and balance your hormones. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that help your body function properly. When your body has a deficiency in these bacteria, it causes digestion problems and inflammation, which can further lead to hormonal imbalance.
Eat a bowl of plain unsweetened yoghurt every day to boost digestion, keep your hormones balanced and stay healthy.
7. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a highly essential nutrient that helps us stay healthy and fit. Vitamin D not only helps to reduce inflammation and balance your hormones but also boosts your immunity.
Consume 1000 – 2000 IU of vitamin D daily to balance your hormones naturally. You can take supplements for vitamin D every day, or you can also sit under the sun for half an hour every day to get vitamin D. Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, and that is why you must get some sunshine. You can also consume cod liver oil, or foods like fish, eggs, mushrooms, etc.
Magnesium is present in more than 600 metabolic processes in the body and plays a vital role in balancing your hormones. Your adrenals also depend on magnesium for proper function of the body.
Take 600 mg of elemental magnesium every day. You can also consume foods rich in magnesium like legumes, nuts, and green veggies. Eat foods rich in magnesium every day to stay healthy and fit.
B. Use Essential Oils
Use essential oils for a quick massage or diffuse them in your surroundings to treat a hormonal imbalance. Do not use too many essential oils at once and do not use them indefinitely. If you see that essential oils are not helping you treat hormonal imbalance, discontinue and try the essential oil.
1. Clary Sage Oil
Phytoestrogens present in clary sage oil help balance hormones like estrogen. It can also help to regulate the menstrual cycle and fight anxiety and depression.
Mix three to five drops of clary sage oil with ten drops of coconut oil and massage it gently on your neck, stomach, and on the soles of your feet. Do this every day until you see an improvement in your condition.
2. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil has a pleasant aroma which helps to calm and soothe you. It also helps people to get good quality sleep and treat stress, anxiety and mood swings which are the major symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
Put three to five drops of lavender oil in a diffuser and switch it on. Take a few drops of lavender oil and mix it in your bathwater and soak in it for 15 minutes.
Do this every day to treat hormonal imbalance.
3. Thyme Oil
Thyme oil helps to increase the production of progesterone and also treats the symptoms of hormonal imbalance like PCOS, stress, insomnia and infertility. Thyme oil (as required)
Take 8 to 10 drops of thyme oil and mix them in your bath. Soak in it for about 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can even mix 4 – 6 drops of thyme oil with coconut oil and massage it into your abdomen. Do this every day for best results.
A healthy gut is essential for the healthy functioning of your hormonal glands. If you use fennel oil on a regular basis, it can improve your gut health and digestion. It also helps to reduce inflammation, which in turn helps treat hormonal imbalance.
Mix a few drops of fennel oil in a glass of water and consume it. You can also massage fennel oil on soles of your feet and stomach. Do this every day to manage your hormonal balance.
Exercise and yoga can help you treat hormonal imbalance naturally. Practise the following exercises and yoga asanas:
Walking is an effective and undoubtedly one of the best exercises for health. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety and also keeps your hormone levels in control. Walk for at least 25 – 30 minutes every day.
Bhujangasana, also known as Cobra Pose is an effective yoga to combat hormonal imbalance. It helps to massage adrenal glands. This pose can also help you relieve stress and tension, especially in the lower back. Do this exercise for 1 minute.
Camel Pose, also known as ustrasana helps to stimulate your internal organs, including your parathyroid and thyroid glands.
It is also known as Rabbit pose and helps to stimulate the thyroid and parathyroid glands. It also helps to fight depression and anxiety.
5. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-Intensity Interval Training helps to shed fat and also strengthens your heart and lungs, thereby increasing the production of human growth hormone (HGH). However, make sure you don’t sweat too much while working out because you do not have to sweat out your minerals.
Minerals are essential for keeping your hormones balanced. Use sea salted water to keep yourself hydrated. Do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for 15 to 20 minutes.
D. Get some Sleep
Getting proper sleep is important to stay healthy and fit. Lack of quality sleep and disrupted sleeping patterns can suppress ovulation and also lead to hormonal imbalance. This can even lead to a host of other symptoms that are associated with hormonal imbalance such as stress, depression, and anxiety.
Get proper sleep every night to keep your hormones balanced.
E. Limit your Intake of Sugar
Excessive consumption of refined sugar is also one of the major causes of hormonal imbalance. When you intake too much sugar, the pancreas secretes more insulin. High levels of insulin lead to the excessive production of testosterone, which helps prevent normal ovulation. High levels of insulin in your body also leads to fat storage and weight gain. Hence, it is best if you limit the consumption of refined sugar because it will help you keep your hormones well balanced.
F. Avoid using Harmful Chemicals
If you want to keep your hormones balanced, you should avoid using anything that contains harmful chemicals. This also includes your body care products and cosmetics. You should remember that your skin will absorb whatever you apply to it. Avoid using any products that contain harmful chemicals like parabens, DEA, propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulfate. You must be aware of the effects of any medications or birth control pills on your hormones and health.
Lifestyle changes can also help to reduce the likelihood, and symptoms of hormonal imbalances:
• Maintain a healthy body weight
• Eat a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet
• Exercise on a regular basis
• Practice good personal hygiene
• Focus on washing areas with a lot of natural oils, such as the neck, face, back, and chest
• Use over-the-counter acne washes, medicated creams, rinses or gels for acne
• Avoid triggers that cause hot flashes, such as spicy, rich, or hot foods and warm weather
• Reduce and manage stress
• Practice yoga
• Practice meditation
• Limit the consumption of sugary foods and carbohydrates
• Practise guided visualization
• Avoid packaged foods
• Replace older non-stick pans with ceramic pans
• Use glass containers to store and heat foods and drinks
• Restrict the use of products that contain harmful toxic chemicals, such as bleach
• Buy fruits and fresh vegetables that have not been sprayed with ripening chemicals and pesticides
Follow these tips to keep your hormones balanced. If you experience symptoms of hormonal imbalance, consult a doctor and get a health checkup done.