What You Should Know About Hormonal Imbalance
Something is off with your body’s rhythms, and you don’t feel at all like yourself. You have maintained your exercise regime, yet you can no longer control your weight, and you’ve added annoying belly fat. Cravings seem to pop up out of nowhere, and you’re sometimes battling digestive issues. On top of that, you’re exhausted because you can’t get a good night’s sleep and your sex drive has plummeted. One minute you are anxious and irritable, and the next moment you feel depressed. What’s suddenly going on with your body, and why?
Understanding Hormones in Women
Your symptoms may be tied to a hormonal imbalance, a condition that can occur throughout the stages of life. Hormones are substances produced in the body that influence the way the body grows and develops. According to the Hormone Health Network, hormone levels change with growth and age and can affect everything from reproduction and sexual function, to metabolism and moods.
Hormonal Changes Through Life Stages
As we age, our bodies continue to change. In each of the following phases of your life, you may experience hormonal fluctuations.
1) Teens and Puberty
Hormonal changes have noticeable effects. Think back to middle school or high school when puberty began and you first got your period. You suddenly had breasts and curves, and hair grew in places you’d never had hair before. Your PMS symptoms may have included cramps, headaches, bloating, acne, and fatigue, to name just a few. What’s more, your period was annoyingly irregular. You wanted to scream one minute and cry the next. It was your transition from childhood to early adulthood, but you really didn’t always like the way it made you feel.
For many young women, a visit to the doctor can help, as he or she can clearly explain what is happening both physically and emotionally and why. Doctors also provide useful tips for coping with PMS.
2) The Reproductive Years
Jump forward a few years, and you have become a pro at dealing with PMS symptoms and your period. But now your period stops because you’re pregnant, and pregnancy hormones kick in with a vengeance. Six major hormones – HGC, progesterone, estrogen, oxytocin, prolactin, and relaxin – turn your world upside down, and you must cope with symptoms ranging from morning sickness and gastrointestinal issues to changes in skin pigmentation and various aches and pains. The good news is that when your new baby arrives, these hormonal changes eventually will disappear.
The next hormonal transition is perimenopause which can last between four and eight years, and is the pre-cursor to menopause. During this stage, the ovaries are rebalancing their estrogen and progesterone production and preparing for menopause, which is the final cessation of menstruation, ovulation and fertility.
Menopause, which occurs in women in their late 40s and early 50s, brings with it a slew of physical and psychological symptoms, ranging from hot flashes , night sweats, insomnia and fatigue, to weight gain, mood swings, vaginal dryness and changes in sex drive. Feelings of anxiety, loss of confidence, memory lapses and clouded thinking may also occur.
Many women may be confused by the symptoms of menopause, particularly if they are still getting their period. However, many who are in the early stages of menopause still menstruate, though it may not be consistent.
Coping with Hormonal Imbalance
Hormonal shifts are to be expected throughout life. Fortunately, the following actions can help:
- Follow a healthy diet, including one rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
- Exercise regularly. You don’t have to climb a mountain. Gentle exercise is good, too.
- Get more sleep. A good night’s sleep can help improve energy levels.
- Reduce stress. One’s mood can vastly improve when you have more time to breathe.
- Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake. This will help with hormonal imbalances, and will improve your overall health.
- Visit your doctor. He or she can provide education and other tips and also rule out other potential health issues.
Although hormonal fluctuations can certainly have an impact on how you are feeling emotionally and physically, there are ways to control your symptoms and find the relief you need.