by Team Henné <3 / 1.13.23

Hormonal Imbalance: How To Spot It and What To Do About It

Hormonal imbalances in women have become increasingly common in this day and age. When it comes to modern society, we’ve been blessed with so many new and amazing things, but sometimes too much of a good thing can end up hurting us in the end. It’s hard to blame these issues on one aspect of our world because many of them arise from a combination of factors, but one thing’s for sure: hormonal imbalance can cause all sorts of problems for the body (and mind).

So what exactly are hormones? Hormones are crucial chemicals produced by glands in your endocrine system that regulate many different processes in the body. They control appetite and metabolism, sleep cycles, reproductive cycles, sexual function, body temperature and mood. An imbalance of hormones is when the body produces too much or too little of a hormone. Although both males and females can have imbalanced hormones, it’s more commonly seen in women. Statistics show that 80 percent of women suffer from hormonal imbalance.

Common Signs of Hormonal Imbalance

Mood swings
Estrogen is a hormone that affects neurotransmitters, like serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that boosts your mood so an imbalance of estrogen can lead to mood swings.

Insomnia and poor sleep quality
Estrogen and progesterone are two hormones that, when regulated, promote sleep. Progesterone is known as the “relaxing hormone” but too much progesterone cam cause chronic fatigue.

Heavy or painful periods
High levels of estrogen and low levels of progesterone can cause the uterine lining to thicken, making periods more painful.

Low libido
Although testosterone is thought of as a “male hormone,” it plays an important role in women’s bodies too. Low levels of testosterone and estrogen can cause a person to have a lowered sex drive.

Unexplained weight gain
Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism and estrogen promotes the storage of fat for healthy reproductive years. Too much estrogen and not enough thyroid hormones may be a reason for unexplained weight gain.

Skin issues
Androgen is another hormone found in males and females but is typically considered a male hormone. Too much of this hormone can stimulate sebaceous glands in the skin to pump out oil, making it easier for acne to form.

The cells that line your digestive tract have receptors for estrogen and progesterone which aid with digestion. Changes in the levels of these hormones slow down the digestive tract, causing symptoms like bloating or constipation.

Causes of Hormonal Imbalance

Hormonal imbalances in women are completely normal during different stages of life. Your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause all cause your hormones to change drastically. However, these imbalances can also be caused by certain lifestyle choices and medical conditions.

Issues with thyroid
The thyroid is a gland that’s often called the “master regulator” because it’s vital for many systems in the body. It controls your metabolism and determines how your body uses its energy. An overactive or underactive thyroid causes imbalances in the levels of thyroid hormone in the body.

Birth control
Birth control pills have been widely used for decades as a way to prevent pregnancy and regulate hormones. However, birth control with added hormones can also cause issues such as lack of periods, irregular periods, heavy bleeding, weight gain and digestive problems.

Stress causes your body to produce cortisol and too much cortisol can affect various hormone levels in the body.

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC)
Endocrine disrupting chemicals are environmental toxins that mimic, block, or interfere with hormones in the body. They can be found in the air we breathe, the water we drink and even the soil our food is grown from. Other EDCs can be found in household products like furniture, children’s toys and beauty products. A common EDC is bisphenol A, also known as BPA, which is found in plastic bottles, food containers, food can linings and cash register receipts. Although some EDCs have been banned, the chemicals can remain in the environment and food supply for decades. They can be stored in fat cells for years after exposure and even be passed on to children during pregnancy.

Ways To Balance Hormones

Eat plenty of protein
Protein provokes the release of hormones that control your appetite and food intake so eating lots of protein can increase your metabolism and help you burn more fat. The hunger hormone ghrelin is decreased and the hormones that help you feel full are stimulated. Experts recommend consuming a minimum of 20-30 grams of protein per meal.

Avoid too many phytoestrogens
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant compounds that act similarly to estrogen in the body. Some phytoestrogens increase estrogen levels in the body, whereas others block its effects and decrease estrogen levels. Phytoestrogens and their effect on the body have become a highly controversial topic and there is more research to be done.

Opt for BPA-free plastic
It’s estimated that more than 96% of Americans have BPA in their bodies. One way to reduce BPA levels in the body is to minimize the use of canned foods and plastic containers.

Use natural beauty products
Phthalates are industrial chemicals that are used as solvents in cosmetics and cause endocrine disruption in the body. Choose beauty products that say “phthalate-free”, or even better: Choose certified organic beauty products whenever available, and buy from trustworthy brands that are known for always having clean ingredients.

Manage stress
Elevated cortisol levels can cause many bodily processes to dysfunction. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, like meditation, yoga or even a massage, can lower elevated cortisol levels.

The quantity and quality of sleep you get each night is a crucial part of balancing your hormones. Experts recommend getting at least 7 hours of high quality, restorative sleep every night. Your brain needs to go through all 5 stages of the sleep cycle to release the right amount of hormones, especially growth hormones.

Preventative Health

Fortunately many hormonal imbalances are reversible and they can also oftentimes be prevented. Preventative health should be encouraged more in today’s society because instead of reacting to a potential problem, you can stop it before it starts.

Be proactive
Being proactive means paying attention to what your body needs. Trust your intuition and get something checked out if it’s bothering you. Still feel unsure after the first doctor visit? Sometimes it takes a second or even a third opinion to figure out what exactly is wrong and how to fix it.

Find a natural doctor
Finding a good natural doctor that you trust can really help point you in the right direction. The holistic approach of a naturopathic practitioner includes using the power of education and prevention to address any dysfunction or imbalance the body may be going through.

Blood work
Getting your blood drawn can open a door to so much info about your body that you might have not known otherwise. This is how Henné founder Laura figured out what was off about her body and how to tweak different aspects of her health. Of course certain issues could end up being out of your control, but at least you’ll know about it and you can take steps to prepare and combat it.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Speak to your doctor about your specific needs before making any major changes.