Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They send signals to your organs and tissues, telling them what to do and when.
These messages manage everything from your sleep, appetite, and even your mood. So when your hormones get out of whack, you can too.
Your body may send warning signs that something’s amiss. This could show up as weight gain, acne, or hair loss to name a few.
The good news is these imbalances are usually fixable. Often, simple tweaks to your diet and lifestyle are all it takes to restore harmony to your hormones. Other times, supplements or medications may be needed.
So read on to learn the 10 most common signs of hormone imbalance and what you can do to correct them.
But first, let’s cover how these imbalances happen.
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormones work on a delicate balance. Your endocrine glands produce most of your hormones, which control important bodily functions such as:
- Body temperature
- Sleep cycle
- Sexual function
- Growth and development
- Heart rate
- Metabolism hormone imbalance occurs when your body produces too much or too little of a certain hormone. Some of the most common hormonal imbalances are:
- Estrogen dominance (when there’s not enough progesterone to balance estrogen’s effects)
- Thyroid imbalance
- Cortisol imbalance
- Low testosterone
And unfortunately, one hormone imbalance often creates a cascade of others.
For example, a cortisol imbalance can lead to low thyroid function or too much estrogen. But it goes both ways. A thyroid imbalance can throw off estrogen and cortisol. You get the idea…
Your hormones naturally fluctuate during puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause. But imbalances may also be due to health conditions such as PCOS, autoimmune disorders, or even certain tumors.
Lifestyle factors can also cause hormones to shift. Stress, poor diet, obesity, certain medications, and toxin exposure can all affect your hormones.
So next, let’s cover how these imbalances may show up…
10 Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance
Noticing strange symptoms and wondering whether hormones are to blame? Here are 10 signs you may have a hormone imbalance:
1 – Hair loss
If you’re seeing more hair in your shower drain, it could be your hormones. During menopause estrogen and progesterone both decline. This can trigger an increase in androgens.
Androgens are known as ‘male hormones.’ But both males and females have them. Androgens can shrink hair follicles, leading to hair loss.
Thyroid imbalances can also cause your hair to thin. This can happen whether your thyroid is underactive or overactive.
2 – Skin problems
Acne is another effect of too many androgens. Excess androgens can make your oil glands work overtime. This can clog your pores and lead to breakouts.
But hormonal imbalances can also dry out your skin. Menopause causes hormonal shifts that thin skin, making it less able to hold onto moisture. Low thyroid function can also cause dry, scaly skin.
3 – Sleep issues
Several hormones can throw off your sleep cycle. Your stress hormone cortisol is one. Research shows people with high cortisol levels tend to have more insomnia.
And when cortisol gets elevated, it can affect estrogen and progesterone. If either of these hormones get imbalanced, it can impair sleep too.
Thyroid imbalances also disturb sleep. This is true whether your thyroid is underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism).
4 – Weight gain
When your hormones are off, it may show up on the scale. This is because hormones affect your metabolism and appetite. You might notice you’re putting on pounds – even though you haven’t changed your diet or workout routine.
For women, menopause is often the culprit. It brings on a slew of hormonal changes that can cause weight gain, especially around the belly.
But other hormones can affect your weight too. When your thyroid is running low, it can slow down your metabolism. High cortisol is also linked with obesity and weight gain. Cortisol increases cravings for sweet, fatty, and salty foods. This may lead to overeating.
5 – Irregular periods
Estrogen and progesterone work as a team to help regulate your menstrual cycle. So when these hormones get too high or too low, it can throw your cycles off. Your periods may stop arriving on time, or you may skip some altogether.
Hormonal fluctuations from perimenopause are often the issue. However, health conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can also cause irregular cycles.
6 – Infertility
Having trouble getting pregnant? It could be your hormones. Certain hormonal imbalances, such as PCOS, can cause problems with ovulation. And if you’re not ovulating regularly, it’ll be tough to get pregnant.
7 – Mood changes
Menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause can all trigger hormone changes that affect your mood. That’s because estrogen affects feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
So if your estrogen gets too low, or drops too quickly, your mood could suffer. This may show up as depression, anxiety, or increased feelings of irritability. Thyroid imbalances can also cause problems with depression and anxiety.
8 – Loss of libido
Testosterone may be pegged as the main male sex hormone. But both men and women make it. And if your testosterone levels get too low, your sex drive may take a dip.
Low estrogen may also make you feel less frisky. When estrogen drops, it can cause vaginal dryness. This can lead to painful intercourse and make you feel less ‘in the mood.’
9 – Fatigue
We all feel tired now and then. But if you feel exhausted no matter how much rest you get, your hormones could be the problem.
Chronic stress causes your body to crank up cortisol production. This can throw off your sleep and leave you feeling ‘tired and wired’ throughout the day. Low thyroid function can also cause feelings of extreme fatigue.
10 – Headaches
Do headaches pop up right before your period? Low estrogen may be to blame. For some women, when estrogen dips, it can trigger headaches such as migraines.
These often happen a few days before your period arrives, as estrogen levels take a nosedive. Headaches may also worsen as you approach menopause, due to hormonal shifts.
How Do You Fix a Hormone Imbalance?
If you suspect you have a hormone imbalance, it can be tempting to DIY treatment based on symptoms.
The problem is many hormonal imbalances have similar symptoms. So to identify which hormones are the root cause of your problems, it’s best to test – not guess.
Many functional medicine practitioners offer advanced hormone testing. This can uncover which hormones are causing your symptoms.
Once you have a baseline, your practitioner can create a customized treatment plan to rebalance your hormones. Targeted supplements may be recommended to support healthy hormone production.
Dietary or lifestyle changes may also be suggested to support hormone balance. This will vary depending on which hormones are haywire.
That said, here are a few general strategies that may ease symptoms of hormone imbalance:
- Clean up your diet: Processed foods are packed with sugar and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. So, steer clear of them and eat wholesome foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and legumes.
- Practice daily stress relief: Keep a lid on stress by setting aside time for relaxation every day. Yoga, deep breathing, meditation, or journaling are all good options. Whatever helps you relax and let go.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise boosts your mood, eases stress, and improves sleep quality. Over time, this can help lower your cortisol levels and make you more resilient to stress.
- Avoid plastics: Plastics can leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as BPA into your food and water. So swap plastic food containers and bottles for glass and stainless steel.
- Maintain a healthy BMI: Your fat cells make certain hormones. This includes estrogen and leptin, a hormone that controls appetite. So if you’re overweight or underweight, it may disrupt your hormones.
Balance Your Hormones with Functional Medicine in Orland Park,IL
Are hormone imbalances leaving you frustrated and confused? If you’ve tried figuring out what’s causing your symptoms, but haven’t had much luck, functional medicine may help.
At Anchored in Health, our Functional Medicine Doctor tests your hormones to get to the root cause of symptoms. We offer an extensive array of hormone tests including:
- Saliva tests to check thyroid and adrenal hormones (cortisol & DHEA)
- Saliva tests for female and male sex hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone
- Blood tests including CBC, metabolic panel, lipid panel, & vitamin D
- Neuro-hormone tests to uncover key neurotransmitter and hormonal imbalances
- Neuro-adrenal tests that identify cortisol patterns and neurotransmitter levels
- Saliva tests to check melatonin levelsOnce imbalances are identified, a customized treatment plan is tailored to your needs.So if you’re ready to restore balance to hormones, follow these steps:
- Contact us with questions or to learn more.
- Schedule your first appointment with Anchored in Health.
- Discover how functional medicine can restore hormone harmony.
Our next three blogs will delve deeper into some of the most common hormone imbalances. So stay tuned…