Hormones And You

Hormones, which are produced by the endocrine system, are your body’s chemical messengers. They travel through the bloodstream and relay chemical messages throughout the body, keeping your emotions and body functions in check. Hormones are extremely essential for your overall wellbeing as it regulates the heart rate, mood, sexual function, reproduction, bone health, appetite, metabolism, growth and development, sleep cycles and more.

Any imbalance in the hormonal cycle can affect your body in multiple ways, and throw your body’s delicate chemistry off balance. Hormone imbalance in women leads to a host of health problems including heavy periods, endometriosis, infertility and even osteoporosis.

What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?

There are various causes that can lead to changes in hormonal levels. This can either be internal or ‘self-inflicted’ like:

Acute/ chronic stress

Insufficient sleep

Unhealthy diet/ eating

Pregnancy

Menopause

Diabetes

Thyroid problems

How Does Hormonal Imbalance Affect You?

Mood Swings & Depression

Angry, irritated and ready to scream? It could be your hormones. Research says that even the slightest change in hormone levels can cause extreme moodiness. Estrogen (the primary female sex hormone) is the most important mood-deciding hormone as it influences key brain chemicals like serotonin, and dopamine.

Irregular Menstrual Cycle

Most women get their periods in 21 to 35 days. If your periods aren’t regular or fails to make a presence in certain months, it could be a hormonal problem (unless of course you are pregnant). However, if you’re in your 40s or 50s, the reason could be ‘peri-menopause’ or onset of menopause. Remember, irregular periods can also mean there’s an underlying condition like polycystic ovarian diseases (PCOD). So make sure you seek medical advise if your periods cycle is turning to be erratic.

Sleep Issues

Can’t sleep however hard you try? It could be your hormones. Progesterone, a hormone released by your ovaries, is what helps you sleep well. If there is a dip in this hormone, you may not be able to sleep. Low Estrogen levels can also wreck your sleep pattern by causing hot flashes and night sweats.

Acne Breakout

It’s pretty normal for a pimple to pop up just before or during your period. However, if the acne refuses to go, it could be a possible hormonal problem. Excess of androgens - the male hormones present in both men and women - can send your oil glands on an overdrive, causing an acne breakout.

Forgetfulness

Changes in estrogen and progesterone can fog your memory, making it tough for you to remember things. Though memory problems are common during peri-menopause and menopause, forgetfulness could be symptom of other hormone-related conditions including thyroid disease. Get yourself checked if you are finding it difficult.

Tummy Problems

Your stomach is lined with tiny cells called receptors that respond to estrogen and progesterone, which is why you are more prone to nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and bloating during your periods.

Changes In the Breast

A spike in estrogen can make your breast tissue denser (causing lumps/ cysts at times) and a dip in the hormone can make your breast feel tender and sore.

Appetite & Weight Gain

You tend to eat more when you’re feeling down and your estrogen levels dip. This hormone also affects leptin - a hormone that helps regulate food intake.

Fatigue

Fatigue or tiredness is one of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalance. A spike in progesterone can make you sleepy and dip in thyroid levels can make you feel drained and tired. The easiest way to detect this issue is a simple thyroid blood test.

Splitting Headaches

Headaches can be due to any reason, including stress and lack of sleep. However, if you tend to get headaches before/ during your periods, it might be due to change in hormone levels.

Headaches can be due to any reason, including stress and lack of sleep. However, if you tend to get headaches before/ during your periods, it might be due to change in hormone levels.

Vaginal Dryness

A drop in estrogen levels can reduce vaginal discharge, leading to vaginal dryness.

Low sex drive

Testosterone, which is male hormone, is also present in women. A drop in Testosterone can lead to lower libido.

Infertility

Hormonal imbalance can lead to conditions that cause infertility including Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) – a condition wherein the ovaries are covered with cysts. Decreased production of estrogen and progesterone, which is necessary for ovulation, results in lower-quality eggs and their inability to mature.

Osteoporosis

An imbalance of thyroid hormone may cause osteoporosis, a condition wherein the bones become sponge-like, brittle and susceptible to breaks.

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