You hear the phrase “my hormones are unbalanced” so often on TV and on social media that it loses all specific meaning. It’s a bit like the way that every sniffle or cough becomes “the flu.” But what does having “unbalanced hormones” mean?
Firstly, having hormone problems are common – so if you are having a hormonal imbalance, you’re really not alone.
There are many factors that can throw off your natural chemistry and the usual suspects are pregnancy, your regular menstrual cycle, menopause, contraception and more. Then you’ve got a lot of lifestyle factors that can have a massive effect, like a bad diet, poor exercise habits, bad sleep cycles or stress & anxiety.
Finally, it can be affected by specific illnesses like diabetes or problems with your thyroid or lymph glands.
An imbalance occurs when the delicate combination of hormones that are present in our system end up over or under producing a hormone.
But what issues can a hormone imbalance cause? Here are a few common hormone imbalance problems:
There are many reasons why a hormone balance would affect your sleep patterns, but one of the main ways is through a progesterone imbalance.
A lot of women report a loss of sleep prior to menstruation and directly after giving birth. This is due to a sharp drop in progesterone levels after these events. This hormone has relaxing properties that help promote sleep and relaxation. Low progesterone can provoke feelings of restlessness, insomnia and irritability.
A low (or a too high) cycle of the stress hormone cortisol can leave you struggling to remember simple things like where you left the remote or why you walked into a room. Studies have shown that consistently high levels of cortisol can cause issues with learning, memory building & retention and cognitive ability.
Cortisol can be overproduced during times of stress and anxiety.
A hormone imbalance can cause serious weight gain issues. Despite your best diet and exercise efforts, it can be seriously hard to shift. This is because hormones play a massive role in how your body and metabolism reacts to calories. They decide how your body uses the food you eat, whether you’re hungry or completely full, how pumped you are for exercise and your mood.
If you have hormone imbalance in your adrenal glands, your body can send an “emergency” signal to your thyroid to “conserve” energy. When instructed to, by the body, your thyroid can send messages to store calories for future use – and before you know it, you’ve piled on 10-20 pounds for no real reason!
If you’re constantly overproducing cortisol from your adrenal gland due to stress, then you’re at risk of stymieing your digestive system. Your body naturally produces cortisol in the morning to “wake you up” but if you overproduce this hormone due to stress you can actually end up with a low dose first thing in the morning. This can alter the body’s natural digestive rhythm and lead to constipation.
If you have abnormal serotonin levels, you can also find yourself with digestive issues like IBS or bad flatulence due to gas overproduction.
Hormones are a powerful element of your body’s system. If they are out of sync with each other, the effects can range from inconvenience to serious medical issues that require medical intervention.
Either way, if you are suffering from hormone issues, there are a range of treatments available to fix them. You don’t have to suffer in silence. If you are unsure whether your symptoms are now REALLY a hormone imbalance, get tested!