Do you know what to look out for?
You’re tired. Your digestion isn’t great. And despite your best efforts, you’ve got stubborn weight that just won’t budge. What gives?
Most of us know that for women, pronounced hormone changes occur in our 40s and 50s. Those changes affect the symptoms listed above, and so much more.
But what you may not know is that age is only one factor in your hormonal health. Pollution, as well as xenoestrogens (synthetic chemicals that mimic estrogen in our bodies) in food, cleaners, and many household products, combined with lifestyle and diet, can all throw our hormones off…at any age.
The fact is that in our modern age, women have to be proactive to maintain their hormone health. And while it’s impossible to avoid all endocrine (hormone system) disruptors, you can develop an eye for imbalances – and be empowered to treat them. So let’s talk about the 6 most common signs of hormone imbalance, and what you can do about it.
1. Creeping weight gain.
This one can be so frustrating, especially if your diet hasn’t particularly changed, and yet the number on your scale is. What’s happening here?
Cheryl Bigus notes on MindBodyGreen that “unaddressed or emerging insulin resistance is one of the most common; small changes in diet — such as eliminating processed foods, sugars and wheat — are steps in the right direction.” But too much estrogen might also be a factor: fat cells actually produce the hormone, so extra weight can lead to elevated estrogen. So while your diet may have yielded a healthy weight before, now might be the time to reassess your meal and exercise patterns.
2. Low sex drive.
Again: talk about frustrating! And chances are, there are a variety of hormonal warning signs at play if you’re experiencing this.
The first possible culprit is testosterone. Dr. Oz points out that “in the years preceding menopause, a woman may suffer from decreased testosterone as her ovaries and adrenal glands slow the production of sex hormones.” You can combat this with some lifestyle changes, especially by incorporating more zinc-rich foods into your diet, like pumpkin seeds and chickpeas. But there might be other, more subtle clues: are you taking medication? Research has shown us that medications that increase prolactin release or inhibit dopamine release can decrease sexual desire. Bottom line is: if your sex drive is low, don’t have to write it off. It’s a key indicator that something could be up with your hormones.
3. Anxiety and depression.
We’ve talked on this blog before about the link between your hormones and anxiety. And whether it’s adrenal fatigue – as in, cortisol and adrenaline are getting pumped out too frequently in your body due to stress – or your estrogen and/or progesterone levels are off, these mental states are a strong warning sign. Estrogen can help provide a sense of calm and confidence, while progesterone not only soothes and induces good sleep, it helps keep all of your hormones running smoothly.
With a formula that contains chasteberry (also known as “Vitex”) – shown in studies to help women produce more of their own progesterone – Asensia is an option for progesterone imbalance, which in turn, helps balance estrogen. It may be part of a strategy for you to get your progesterone production back on track.
If there’s one symptom that affects absolutely every area of your life, it’s insomnia. Not getting the sleep you need can make you feel physically ill.
There are many ways a hormonal imbalance can manifest itself in insomnia (elevated estrogen being one of them), but too much cortisol and adrenaline are the most common culprits. Supplementing with melatonin can be a solution here (as our bodies tend to produce less with age), but so is taking a holistic look at your lifestyle. Are you cheating yourself of downtime? Are you staying hydrated? How about blood sugar levels: are you eating foods that can spike it, followed by a sharp, shaky energy drop? All of these things can, believe it or not, affect your cortisol levels. These habits can put the body in “stress mode,” which makes it harder for you to drop off properly at night.
5. Poor digestion.
As with all hormonal imbalances, the answer to a symptom is multi-faceted. But for this one, let’s turn to your thyroid.
As we’ve discussed here on the blog before, a sluggish thyroid often yields constipation and digestive problems, which results in gas and bloating. Fun! But the solution here isn’t necessarily “fix my thyroid” (ah, were hormone issues that simple). Once we dig a little deeper into the science, the issue behind underfunctioning thyroid is, again, estrogen. Dr. Christine Northrup writes:
“According to the late clinician, John R Lee, M.D., estrogen dominance is behind many cases of midlife hypothyroidism, in which there are inadequate levels of thyroid hormone. When estrogen is not properly counterbalanced with progesterone, Dr. Lee surmised, it can block the action of thyroid hormone, so that even when the thyroid is producing normal levels of the hormone, the hormone is rendered ineffective and the symptoms of hypothyroidism appear.”
6. Foggy memory.
When you can’t find your keys in the morning or you start forgetting appointments, it’s not just you! (I.e., you’re not just flighty.) It could be your hormones.
As BodyLogic MD notes,
“Foggy thinking and lapses in memory in women are common symptoms of suffering from hormonal imbalances…The important thing to remember is that you are not losing your mind; your hormones are simply misfiring.
When a woman’s hormones are functioning normally, estrogen levels help regulate cortisol levels which affect the function of neurotransmitters (chemicals used for communication) in your brain. As estrogen levels decline, as is common in perimenopause, the estrogen no longer properly controls the cortisol. As a result, neurotransmitters begin to malfunction, creating these lapses in memory.”
So here again (and with our digestion problems, outlined above), we’ve got an estrogen problem. But, critically, it can be brought back into balance, which positively affects your cortisol levels. Wrangling estrogen is a matter of targeted lifestyle, diet, and supplementation choices.
Don’t ignore these common signs of hormone imbalance. When one of these “Big Six” shows up and doesn’t leave, you’re not crazy. You’re perceptive, and that is the first step to addressing poor hormone function. With the right choices, you can restore your endocrine system to health.
ADDITIONAL LINKS + RESOURCES:
 “9 Signs You Have a Hormonal Imbalance + Easy Ways to Fix It,” read more at: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9523/9-signs-you-have-a-hormonal-imbalance-easy-ways-to-fix-it.html
 “Are Your Hormones Out of Whack?” Read more at: http://www.oprah.com/health/hormone-imbalances-how-to-tell-if-you-have-a-hormone-deficiency/all
 “Sexual Desire Disorders,” read more at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695750/
 “When is Memory Loss a Problem?” Read more at: https://www.bodylogicmd.com/for-women/foggy-memory