Hormonal imbalance could be the reason behind changes in your fertility, mood and energy. Here are some signs of hormone imbalance & how to improve it.
“My hormones are raging.”
A phrase that might excite some, hormones are much more than just a factor that affects your sex drive. The question is, what exactly are hormones, how do they affect the human body, and what can one do to regulate them?
While hormones are something the majority of us are likely to know a thing or two about, hormone imbalance is a whole different story. Here’s your quintessential guide to help you break down what hormone imbalance is and what one can do about it.
What are hormones and why do they matter
Hormones are chemicals secreted by endocrine glands, into the bloodstream. Major endocrine glands in our bodies include the pituitary gland, thymus, thyroid, pancreas, testes, ovaries and more .
Hormones function as the messengers in our bodies, telling our organs, muscles and tissues what to do . They also regulate processes in our bodies, including reproduction, growth and metabolism; as well as affect our energy levels, mood and cognitive function .
This makes them an important part of our daily function, as our growth, sex drive, reproduction, metabolism and more all depend on the secretion of hormones.
What is hormone imbalance and how does it affect you?
This is an instance where the term ‘the more the merrier’ might not apply.
Hormone imbalance, literally means the imbalance of hormones, where one has too much, or too little of a specific hormone (or hormones). Hence, hormone imbalance occurs when hormone levels in our body are too high, or too low.
Hormone imbalance can negatively affect fertility, mood, energy and sexual drive, having an adverse impact on your bodily functions . Hormones also impact your reproductive (menstrual) cycle, potentially affecting your baby-making efforts by making it more difficult to determine when you will be ovulating .
Signs of hormone imbalance
Now that you understand what hormone imbalance is, here are some of the signs that hint at an imbalance in hormone levels:
Hormone imbalance is a leading cause behind female infertility, and hence a couple’s difficulty in conceiving.
High levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and low levels of luteinising hormone (LH) can be hormones behind female fertility issues. Conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and menopause also affect fertility .
For men, erectile dysfunction could be a telltale sign of hormone imbalance and infertility.
#2 Irregular periods
Does your Aunt Flo visit regularly each month? Can you predict the timeframe when your period will come?
If your answer is no, you might have an irregular period — one of many signs of hormone imbalance. Menstrual cycles can vary and it is normal for cycles to differ from last month’s. However, you could be having irregular periods if your menstrual cycle varies significantly from month to month, or is very long (greater than 38 days) or very short (less than 24 days) .
Irregular menstrual cycles can also be caused by anovulation, this happens when a woman does not ovulate . No egg, no chance of getting pregnant. Having said that, you can still check if and when you’re ovulating by using ovulation test kits.
#3 Low libido
Not so keen on sexy time? Hormone imbalance could be a cause of a lowered sex drive, in both men and women. This could be due to low testosterone, a hormone found in both genders .
Falling levels of both oestrogen and testosterone in women going through perimenopause or menopause also contribute to low libido .
#4 Sudden weight gain, or weight loss
If you have substantial, unexpected weight gain or loss, particularly with no changes to your diet or exercise habits, fluctuations in your hormone levels could be behind it.
Weight gain can be caused by insufficient amounts of the thyroid hormone, PCOS and even a dip in oestrogen levels which can cause hunger and hence, more eating .
On the flip side, unexplained weight loss can come from an overactive thyroid gland that produces too much thyroxine (T4) and/or triiodothyronine (T3) — leading to a high metabolism rate where your body burns calories fast .
Lazing in bed on weekends is one thing, but fatigue is another.
Higher levels of progesterone can cause fatigue by making you sleepy. Besides feeling fatigued, low energy levels could also be caused by lower thyroid levels, draining you of energy [10, 11].
Apart from the signs listed above, other potential signs of hormone imbalance include [2, 3, 5, 11]:
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Hair loss, or thinning of hair
- Trouble concentrating
- Mood swings, irritability
- Stomach discomfort such as bloating, diarrhoea or indigestion
- Anxiety, palpitations
- Vaginal dryness
What causes hormone imbalance?
While our hormone levels may fluctuate, there are specific stages of life that see greater changes in hormone levels, such as pregnancy, menopause and puberty.
Besides those stages in life, other common causes of hormonal imbalance include [2, 12]:
- Hormone therapy
- Medication taken
- Eating disorders
- Cancer treatments
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- Injury or trauma
What can you do about hormone imbalance?
If you think you have an imbalance in your hormone levels, here’s what you can do to help regulate them.
#1 Natural remedies
Before tapping on external help, here are some actionable, lifestyle changes you can make to help you balance your hormone levels [2, 3, 5].
- Have a healthy, balanced diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise regularly
- Drink less alcohol
- Quit smoking
- Keep a diary of your symptoms
More specifically, when it comes to your diet, ensure that you are consuming an adequate amount of protein, healthy fats and fish rich in Omega-3 in order to help you regulate your hormones .
#2 Medical treatment
If natural remedies aren’t quite helping, fret not, there’s always medication and treatment available.
To help regulate your hormone levels, you can take medication such as :
- Hormonal birth control, such as the birth control pill, birth control patch, intrauterine device (IUD), etc.
- Anti-androgen medications
- Flibanserin (Addyi) and bremelanotide (Vyleesi)
You can also opt for hormone therapy. Some specific forms of hormone therapy include :
- Oestrogen therapy
- Testosterone therapy
- Thyroid hormone therapy
To get an accurate diagnosis and recommendation, you can make a visit to the doctor for a hormone test.
Have your hormone levels checked today
Hormone levels are typically determined by doing blood tests. If you suspect you may have hormone imbalance, you could visit your regular healthcare provider and have a hormone test done.
One way to do so from the comforts of your home is to sign up for the twoplus Hormone Test Kit.
All you have to do is to order a twoplus Hormone Test Kit online, and book an appointment at your preferred time slot for a hospital-trained phlebotomist to head down to your home for blood collection.
Your hormone test results will not only reflect your hormone levels, but also give you a better idea about your fertility health. Regardless of where you are on your conception journey, knowing your own fertility health will help you better understand how easy or difficult your conception journey might look.