Hormonal Imbalance in Women [Causes & Treatments]
Half of all women (47%) have experienced hormonal imbalance symptoms according to the New York Post - but they might not even know. That’s because many of the symptoms — bloating, skin issues, weight gain, low energy — coincide with quite a few other conditions.
Hormonal imbalance-related issues can be disruptive at best, and prohibitive, at worst. They can affect the way you relate with others, view your own body, recover from illnesses, and more.
In this article, we’ll cover hormonal imbalance in women and what you can do to help your body return to balance using entirely natural, healthy, and proven remedies.
What is Hormonal Imbalance?
To understand hormonal imbalance, you need to learn about the role hormones play in the body and why they’re so crucial to your overall health.
Hormones are complex molecules produced by glands in various parts of the body. The adrenal glands, for example, produce the hormone cortisol. Each hormone-producing gland is part of the body’s endocrine system.
This system includes:
- The pituitary gland
- The pineal gland
- The thymus
- The thyroid gland
- The pancreas
- Male and female reproductive organs
- The gut
When the endocrine system works as it should, your body easily regulates all the essential processes you take for granted.
You have specific hormones to thank for falling asleep at night, feeling energized in the morning, experiencing that extra surge of mental acuity in situations of stress, getting your period, and even metabolizing your blood sugar levels.
And it doesn’t even end there. Your hormones are the messengers that regulate these additional processes:
- Development and growth (for example, HGH, or human growth hormone, regulates the way your body grows through puberty. When it’s out of balance, people experience a condition called acromegaly)
- Reproduction and sexual health
- Appetite (regulated by ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone”)
- Cognitive function and mood
Your body’s unique chemistry relies on a specific balance between these hormones, where a slight excess or deficiency causes serious issues. For example, overworked adrenal glands produce a collection of symptoms called adrenal fatigue.
Unlike balanced hormones, which do their job unnoticed, you’ll experience the impacts of hormonal imbalance right away.
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance in Women
Several causes can lead to female hormonal imbalance.
We have listed and explained some of them below:
- Unhealthy diet — A diet that’s high in refined sugars and unhealthy fats, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, does your body no favors. Specifically, it impacts insulin levels as well as cortisol, which is necessary to metabolize glucose in your body.
- Toxins, pollutants, herbicides, and pesticides — Harmful chemical compounds like sulfates, parabens, and cancer-causing phthalates appear in everything, from household cleaners to cosmetics and even mattresses.
- Excessive and chronic stress — Chronic stress affects every aspect of your health, from lowering your body’s immune defenses to increasing inflammation.
- Birth control medications — Since birth control pills are intended to prevent ovulation, it’s no wonder the hormones released in these capsules often lead to female hormonal imbalance.
- Iodine deficiency — A deficiency in this essential mineral can cause your thyroid gland to drop production. Low levels of thyroid hormones then slow down your metabolism, among other symptoms.
- Under- or overactive thyroid hormones — If you’re facing under- or overactive thyroid hormones, it could throw other hormones out of balance, such as estrogen.
- Diseases — Type 1 and 2 diabetes, for example, put you at greater risk of developing a hormonal imbalance.
- Tumors on specific glands — Cancerous growths sitting on endocrine glands can disrupt their function. This includes benign tumors or cysts on glands.
- PCOS — Polycystic ovary syndrome is the development of cysts on the ovaries, which disrupts their ability to secrete the right level of hormones for menstruation.
- Early menopause — Premature menopause is linked to a range of causes, including chromosome defects, genetic issues, autoimmune diseases like fibromyalgia, and epilepsy.
- Excessive consumption of phytoestrogens — Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant estrogens, especially in soy products. A large amount of soy-based products could be the cause of an estrogen imbalance.
Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to fix hormonal imbalance. Read on to discover a few natural treatments you can start with right away.
What Are the Types of Hormonal Imbalances?
Before you can consider treatment options, however, let’s first go over the main female hormonal imbalances.
While several hormones could fall out of balance at any point, there are 5 main types of hormonal imbalances affecting women. Some, like cortisol imbalance, occur in both males and females. Others, like estrogen imbalance, dominate the female hormone balance cycle.
Let’s take a look at the “big 5” hormonal imbalances in women.
- Cortisol — When cortisol falls out of balance in a woman’s body, she may experience symptoms like a flushed face, high blood pressure, increased thirst, irregular menstrual cycles, muscle weakness, and reduced libido.
- Estrogen — For women, estrogen imbalance comes with issues such as mood swings, heavy or painful periods, insomnia, adult acne, fertility complications, weak bones, and unexplained weight gain.
- Insulin — In women, insulin resistance is linked to occurrences of PCOS. Other issues caused by an insulin imbalance in females include a greater risk of pregnancy complications (such as preeclampsia) and gestational diabetes.
- Progesterone — Progesterone is a hormone linked to estrogen in women. That means estrogen imbalance can also lead to fluctuating progesterone levels. When this happens, women may experience depression, fatigue, development of heart conditions, anxiety, uterine bleeding, irregular periods, and even frequent miscarriages.
- Testosterone — Yes, testosterone is primarily a “male hormone.” Women, however, also produce testosterone at low levels, which impacts bone health and reproductive tissue. If women produce less than the necessary amount of testosterone, they experience fatigue, muscle weakness, reduced libido, and weight gain.
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Women
Hormonal imbalance in women is easy enough to spot, even if treating it is a process. Red flags hinting at which hormone may be out of balance in your body exist.
Generalized symptoms of a female hormone imbalance include:
- Digestive issues
- Low sex drive
- Frequent mood swings
- Muscle weakness
- Unexplained weight gain
- Skin issues
- Depression or anxiety
- Breast tenderness
- Changes in heart rate
- Puffy face
- Weak bones
- Constant headaches
- Changes in heart rate
How to Fix Hormonal Imbalance in Women
There are all kinds of ways to fix hormonal imbalance, ranging from allopathic, medical options to more natural treatments that focus on changing your lifestyle.
Treatment Options for Hormonal Imbalance
Some of the treatment options available if you’re experiencing female hormonal imbalance include:
- Vaginal estrogen — A potential symptom of estrogen imbalance is vaginal dryness. In that case, your physician may recommend creams containing estrogen to reduce this symptom.
- Hormone replacement medications — This solution is primarily aimed at women experiencing early menopause symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats.
- Anti-androgen medications — For women experiencing a spike in male sex hormones (androgens) like testosterone, androgen-blocking medications can help reduce adult acne or excessive hair growth.
- Metformin — Even though it’s mainly used as a Type 2 diabetes medication, metformin can also help manage or lower blood sugar levels if you’re experiencing insulin imbalance.
- Levothyroxine — If you’re experiencing issues with your thyroid gland - specifically hypothyroidism - levothyroxine can help improve your symptoms.
- Intrauterine devices — Irregular menstruation is a common symptom of several types of hormonal imbalances. Using an IUD, which is an alternative to birth control pills, can help your body secrete the right levels of hormones to trigger your period and regulate your cycle.
If allopathic medications are not for you, you can also opt for natural ways to heal hormonal imbalances in conjunction with what your physician prescribes.
Natural Treatments for Hormonal Imbalance
Natural treatments are effective in treating hormonal imbalance in women because they target your overall health. The changes in your lifestyle - from toxic eliminations to healthy additions - will work on many of your body’s issues simultaneously.
Below are some of the most effective natural treatment options:
#1. Using Herbs to Get Sleep
Dropping levels of progesterone and estrogen lead women to experience hormone-related insomnia and low-quality sleep, while also potentially affecting cortisol levels. This occurs during the perimenopause and menopause phases.
Herbs for sleep can do wonders to improve your sleep quality no matter the hormonal imbalance compromising it. They include natural remedies like valerian, lavender, and Happy Healthy Hippie’s Namastay in Bed herb collection.
#2. Starting a Hormone Balance Diet
Diet plays a significant role in maintaining your hormone balance. Many of the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients required to keep hormone levels steady come right from what you eat.
If you’re looking to start a hormone balance diet, these are your go-to foods:
- Organic tempeh
- Wild-caught salmon
- Cruciferous veggies
#3. Taking Supplements
Speaking of natural sources of vitamins and nutrients, supplements can be a viable option for you. Natural supplements, or hormone balance pills, can help address deficiencies.
For example, women who have an iodine deficiency, which we mentioned is related to hormonal imbalance, can take supplements to regulate their iodine levels.
#4. Practicing Yoga
Hormonal imbalance in women affects their fertility. Because reproductive hormones are a big part of a woman’s endocrine system, you can use “fertility yoga” to naturally regulate them.
In addition to improving your physical health and sleep quality, regularly practicing specific yoga poses can help you rebalance the entire endocrine system.
#1. What causes hormonal imbalance in women?
Environmental toxins, an unhealthy diet, undetected benign or malignant tumors, birth control medications, and chronic stress are some of the causes associated with hormonal imbalance.
#2. What are the most common types of hormonal imbalance?
The most common types of female hormonal imbalance include issues related to cortisol, insulin, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Some women may also be predisposed to issues with the thyroid hormone.
#3. What does hormonal imbalance do to a female’s body?
In women, hormonal imbalance causes noticeable symptoms, including fatigue, mood swings, insomnia, skin issues, unexplained weight gain, and infertility, among others.
#4. What are some treatment options for hormonal imbalance?
Treatment options depend on the hormones that are in flux in your body. They include everything from IUDs and vaginal creams to medications like metformin for insulin resistance and levothyroxine for hypothyroidism.
#5. Can I take advantage of natural remedies to fix hormonal imbalance?
There are several natural remedies to fix hormonal imbalances for women, including supplements, using herbs for sleep, practicing yoga, and starting a hormone balance diet.
Cases of hormonal imbalance in women are growing, but there are several ways to address the issues they present. An important first step is to get tested and find out which hormones are out of balance.
You could approach your primary care doctor or a functional medicine specialist. From there, choose a treatment option to re-balance your body’s hormone levels.