This post was written by Margaret Ojeniyi and edited by Lani Sodunke.
Hormones are like a ride or die to the female body. They regulate different functions in the body such as metabolism, sleep cycle, reproductive cycles, body temperature, etc. This is why any slight change that upsets the hormones may have a noticeable effect on your wellbeing and health.
Hormonal imbalance occurs in women when hormones produced by the endocrine system rises or drops below normal levels in the body. A little upset with the hormone can create problems such as the early onset of menopause or ovarian cancer.
It is imperative to know the signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women. Identifying the symptoms would ensure proper treatment to restore balance and good health.
What are the symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women?
At a different stages of your life, you would experience a hormonal shift and this could be during:
- Puberty and menopause ( beginning and end of reproductive cycle)
- Period cycle
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women include:
1. Mood Swings
Due to the effect of hormone estrogen on serotonin (a chemical that boosts mood), an upset in the estrogenic level can cause premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or depressed mood during perimenopause and menopause.
2. Irregular Periods
Irregular period is as a result of the body’s transition reaction to a new hormone change. This can lead to heavy or painful periods or even polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – a condition that increases the level of male hormones in women.
3. Low sex drive
Experiencing fatigue, anxiety, heavy night sweat, and vaginal dryness can affect your sex life. This is common among women going through menopause due to falling estrogen and testosterone levels.
4. Unexplained Weight Gain
Many hormone-related conditions such as menopause, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), underactive thyroid (when your thyroid is not producing enough hormones that aid metabolism) can cause weight gain. If you are experiencing unexplained weight gain or going through menopause, you should discuss how to regulate your weight with your doctor.
An imbalance in the progesterone can make it difficult to sleep. Progesterone is also known as a relaxing hormone which aids sleep. A fall in this hormone level can cause night sweats, disturbing your sleep.
6. Skin problems
Most times, chronic acne results from a low level of estrogen and progesterone. Also, hormonal imbalance during pregnancy or menopause can cause dull, dry, and itchy skin.
Growing old as a female, your level of fertility drops due to changing hormone levels. Imbalance hormones can affect the menstrual cycle making it difficult to get pregnant. If you are trying to get pregnant, it is essential to see a medical practitioner to check follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), especially if you are over 35 years old.
A change in the hormone level can cause digestion problems. This can lead to bloating since estrogen and progesterone work with cells in the digestive tract lining.
9. Vaginal Dryness
Taking contraceptives can upset the hormone levels, resulting in vaginal dryness. Also, menopause usually leads to a fall in estrogen level, leading to vaginal dryness. To enjoy your sex life, you can get water-based lubricants. However, if you are at the menopause stage, you can do hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
10. Weak Bones
A drop in the estrogen level during menopause can cause frail or brittle bones. Exercising and a taking healthy diet that includes calcium and vitamin D can help manage the symptom.
Other symptoms of hormonal imbalance include – increased or decreased heart rate, increased thirst or hunger, thinning hair, puffy/round face, purple or pink stretch marks, muscle weakness, etc.
Treatment for hormonal imbalance
Treatment for hormonal imbalance is different in each female as the underlying cause always determines it. To achieve a long-term result, medical treatment and lifestyle change are important. The medical options to treat hormonal imbalance in women includes;
- Hormonal birth control: These are medications that regulate menstrual cycles. This type of treatment can be a form of birth control pills, birth control patch, vaginal ring, or intrauterine device (IUD).
- Hormone replacement medications: This treatment is also known as Estrogen therapy. It is for women experiencing hot flashes and uncomfortable menopause symptoms. Before doing this, it is essential to discuss the risks and benefits of this therapy with your doctor.
- Vaginal estrogen: This treatment is ideal for women experiencing vaginal dryness and painful sex. Vaginal estrogen can be in the form of a tablet, cream, or ring. They help reduce vaginal dryness, itching, and pain.
- Flibanserin (Addyi) and bremelanotide (Vyleesi): These help treat low sexual desire in premenopausal women. Addyi is a pill, while Vyleesi is an injection. These drugs usually have serious side effects, which is why you should talk to a doctor before using them.
- Assisted reproductive technology: This is used to treat women with infertility issues related to PCOS. It is generally known as in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
- Anti-androgen medications: These are medications used to help women with PCOS manage androgen levels and induce ovulation. They also help regulate hair loss, facial hair growth, and acne.
- Metformin: This medication helps manage or balance blood sugar levels. It is for people with type 2 diabetes.
- Levothyroxine: This medication helps to reduce the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
- Eflornithine (Vaniqa): This medication is for women with excessive facial hair. It is applied to the skin to slow down new hair growth.
Natural ways to regulate hormones in women
- Keep your weight under check.
- Incorporate a balanced diet.
- Avoid stress – deep breathing, meditation, and yoga.
- Engage in regular physical exercise.
- Avoid things or food (spicy food) that can trigger hot flashes.
- Reduce sugar and processed food intake.
- Always keep your appointment with your healthcare provider.
How to know if you have a hormonal imbalance
Symptoms and causes of hormonal imbalance are different for each woman, and the best way to discover this is through a test. There are numerous diagnostic tests, however, your doctor may recommend any of the following based on your symptoms:
- Pelvic examination
- Blood test
- Thyroid scan
- Home testing kit for menopause ( but you might have to send the sample to a lab)
Hormones are important in many of the body functions. Any upset of these hormones can cause different adverse symptoms. So, if you notice any change in your body or know anyone showing symptoms of hormonal imbalance, it is important to start treatment as soon as possible.