Hormonal Imbalance 101: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

If you’re experiencing a range of uncomfortable symptoms, such as itchy skin, acne, weight gain, fatigue and a low mood, that have seemingly come out of nowhere with no apparent cause, you may be struggling with a hormonal imbalance. It’s estimated that approximately 80% of women suffer from some kind of hormonal imbalance, and 70% of women with hormone-related health conditions, such as PCOS, aren’t even aware of it. Hormonal imbalances can affect men too! So, if you keep experiencing unexplainable symptoms, it might be time to take a look at your hormones.

hormonal imbalance guide

What are Hormonal Imbalances?

Hormonal imbalances are exactly what it sounds like: an imbalance in your hormones. You may have too much of a hormone or too little, causing an imbalance that can produce a wide range of symptoms. However, to understand hormonal imbalances on a deeper level, you need to first understand what and how your hormones work.

Your hormones are chemicals produced in the endocrine glands. They get released into the bloodstream and travel throughout your body to tell your different organs and tissues what to do. They play a crucial role in regulating various processes in the body, including appetite and metabolism, sleep cycles, reproductive cycles, sexual function, body temperature, and mood.

When there is too much or too little of a hormone, it leads to an imbalance. Even the slightest disruption can have a serious impact on your overall health and wellness. In fact, hormonal imbalances can lead to health conditions, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Thyroid Disorders, and estrogen, progesterone and prolactin imbalances and conditions. These conditions have their own set of potential risks, including fertility issues, vision changes, and mental health conditions.

However, your hormones will naturally fluctuate at different stages in your life, such as during your menstrual cycle, menopause or pregnancy. This is entirely normal and overtime, your hormones should balance out again and any associates symptoms will subside on their own. But if they do not, it could be time to take some action towards restoring your hormonal balance.

Symptoms of a Hormonal Imbalance

Since there are so many hormones that get produced in the body, with each playing a role in various aspects of your health, the signs and symptoms of a hormonal imbalance are vast. The symptoms you are experiencing will depend on which hormone or gland is being affected. However, some common signs of hormonal imbalances are:

  • Unexplainable weight loss
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness, aches, stiffness and tenderness
  • Pain, stiffness and swelling in your joints
  • Sweating, particularly night sweats
  • Constipation (or the opposite)
  • Increased or decreased heart rate
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased thirst
  • Indigestion (diarrhea, stomach aches, bloating and nausea)
  • Depression
  • Memory fog
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Anxiety
  • Increased nervousness or irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Bone loss
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Headaches
  • Infertility
  • Heavy or painful periods
  • Blurred vision
  • Hair thinning or breaking
  • Dry skin or chronic acne
  • Puffy or rounded face
  • Purple and pink stretch marks
  • Irregular periods
  • Sleep problems

The Effects of a Hormonal Imbalance

Just by looking at the list of symptoms associated with a hormonal imbalance, it’s easy to see just how severe the effects can be on all aspects of your health and life. For example, a hormonal imbalance can cause a loss in libido, which may affect your sexual health and ultimately, your relationship. A hormonal imbalance that is producing chronic acne and dry skin may start to take a toll on your self-esteem and mental health. 

If left untreated, hormone imbalances can lead to chronic health conditions, such as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and endocrine diseases such as Graves’ Disease, Cushing’s Syndrome, Hashimoto’s Disease and Cystic Fibrosis. These conditions can have serious and long-term effects on your health.

Additionally, untreated hormonal imbalances may affect the plans you have for your future. For example, those heavy, painful periods may actually be a sign of a hormonal imbalance that may be affecting your fertility or leading to PCOS.

As such, it’s imperative to speak with your healthcare professional about any concerns you have regarding your hormones or unexplainable symptoms.

Ways to Fix a Hormonal Imbalance

With the right treatment, you can manage your symptoms, regulate your hormonal balance and reduce your risk of developing more serious health problems. This can be done with the help of a healthcare professional or at home with some natural remedies and healthy lifestyle habits. Keep in mind, the effectiveness of treatment will highly depend on the type of hormonal imbalance you’re experiencing and what is causing it; some of those causes, such as thyroid disease, may require medical attention. So, it is recommended to speak with your doctor so they can do the necessary tests to narrow in on the specifics. There are also at-home tests you can do that use your saliva and/or blood to measure your cortisol levels, thyroid hormones, and sex hormones. These results can help you decide the best course of action to take to start restoring proper hormone levels.

So while you wait for your doctor’s appointment or test results, let’s explore the different treatment options available and natural remedies that can help treat hormonal imbalances.

Conventional Treatment Options

Traditional treatments for hormonal imbalances typically involve using synthetic hormone replacement therapies, birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medications, and other similar approaches. Here are some common options:

  • Estrogen therapy: taking a low dose of estrogen to help decrease hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.
  • Vaginal estrogen: using an estrogen cream, ring or tablet to treat vaginal dryness and pain during sex.
  • Anti-depressants: can be used to improve mood and reduce hot flashes.
  • Hormonal birth control: used to balance hormones to treat symptoms associated with your menstrual cycle, such as heavy or painful periods.
  • Anti-androgen medications: used to block the effects of androgen to help treat hair loss, acne and facial hair growth.
  • Flibanserin and bremelanotide: medications used to increase sexual desire in pre-menopausal people.
  • Testosterone therapy: used to reduce symptoms associated with low testosterone levels.
  • Metformin: medication used to treat type 2 diabetes that can also help address low androgen levels and encourage ovulation.
  • Vaniqa: a prescription cream that helps slow new hair growth.

Natural Remedies for Hormonal Imbalances

Making a few simple changes in your diet and lifestyle can make a significant impact on your hormonal health. Here are some suggestions:

Improve Your Diet

You are what you eat and improving your diet can make a significant improvement on your hormonal health. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean meats is definitely key. However, focusing on consuming more healthy fats can be particularly helpful for balancing your hormones. This is because these foods the fatty acids needed for your body to create hormones. They also help keep inflammation levels low, boost metabolism, and promote weight loss. Some examples of healthy fats to enjoy include coconut oil, salmon, grass-fed butter and avocado.

Additionally, you may want to:

  • Eat more yogurt: a rich source of probiotics that can help balance your hormones.
  • Eliminate refined carbohydrates, as they can lead to inflammation and disrupt hormone balance.
  • Eat more omega-3 fatty acids: the anti-inflammatory properties can help keep hormones balanced.
  • Drink more water.

Supplement Your Nutrients As Needed

Nutritional supplements are a great option for filling in any voids that may be contributing to a hormonal imbalance.

  • Vitamin D: reduces inflammation, balances your hormones and boost immunity.
  • Vitamin C: supports adrenal health and helps regulate hormones.
  • Magnesium: supports over 600 metabolic processes.
  • Minerals: iodine, selenium, magnesium, copper, zinc, molybdenum, manganese, boron, and chromium are all minerals required by your thyroid.

Take Adaptogen Herbs

This unique category of herbs is known to help the body adapt to stress to lessen the effects it can have on your overall health and wellness while also protecting the body from several diseases and promoting hormonal imbalance. Some popular adaptogen herbs to take for your hormonal health include:

  • Ashwagandha: benefits thyroid function.
  • Holy basil: helps regulate stress levels and ease anxiety, while also protecting you against pollution and heavy metals.
  • Mushrooms: functional mushrooms are filled with beneficial properties that help support gut health, metabolic health and a healthy immune system.
  • Black cohosh root: has estrogen-like effects that can support women’s health.
  • Chasteberry: may help lower prolactin to treat related symptoms.
  • Marjoram: influences cortisol, insulin and estradiol.

Address Your Stress

Stress is the root of all evil. Various studies have found stress to be linked to a vast array of health conditions, many of which are associated with hormonal imbalances. As such, it’s important to not just improve your physical health but also, your emotional and mental health as well. Implement these stress management techniques to reduce the effects on your hormones:

  • Use breathing exercises
  • Spend more time outdoors
  • Exercise regularly
  • Journal your thoughts
  • Practice meditation

Avoid Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine disruptors are synthetic chemicals, such as tobacco smoke, pesticides, herbicides, plastics, flame retardants, and fragrances in lotions and cleaning supplies, that are found in everything– from your plastics and cleaning products to your food, cosmetics and clothes. They interfere and disrupt your endocrine system, which affects your hormones.

Your hormones play a major role in all aspects of your health – from your physical, mental and emotional health to your sexual health and beyond. A disruption in hormonal balance can wreak havoc on your health and life as a whole. The good news: these treatments, tips and natural remedies can help you restore your hormonal balance.

Leave a Comment