Bloating, weight gain, fatigue, mood swings, and spikes in body temperature are only some of the many symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women.
Hormone imbalances can also cause delayed or skipped periods.
Hormones are chemicals produced by different glands and tissues, forming a part of the endocrine system. Hormones travel to organs and signal what function they need to perform and when.
Hormones help regulate various processes in the body, including the immune and reproductive systems. A hormone imbalance means a person has too little or too much of a certain hormone, such as insulin, cortisol, androgens, estrogen, or progesterone.
Hormone imbalance can lead to medical conditions like:
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is when you have few, unusual, or very long periods. It often results in having too much of a male hormone called androgen. Many tiny sacs of fluid develop on the ovaries. They may need to release eggs regularly.
Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck. It makes hormones that control the way the body uses energy. These hormones affect nearly every organ and control many of your body’s essential functions. For example, they affect your breathing, heart rate, weight, digestion, and mood. Thyroid diseases cause your thyroid to make too much or too little hormones.
Your body needs estrogen for your reproductive, cardiovascular, and bone health. Too much estrogen can cause irregular periods and worsen conditions that affect your reproductive health.
Low estrogen can affect your body in various ways, depending on where you are in terms of your sexual development. Low estrogen: May delay puberty slow or prevent sexual development. It occurs in perimenopause and menopause, often leading to painful sex, lower sexual desire, and hot flashes.
Progesterone is a hormone that plays a vital role in your reproductive system. Hormones are chemical messengers that tell your body how to work. In women, progesterone supports menstruation and helps maintain the early stages of a pregnancy.
Too much prolactin reduces the production of estrogen and testosterone. Too much prolactin also can prevent the release of an egg during the menstrual cycle (anovulation) in females.
Symptoms of a hormone imbalance
Symptoms depend on which hormone or gland is not working correctly. Symptoms of hormonal imbalances that affect your metabolism include:
- Blurred vision
- Constipation or more frequent bowel movements
- Decreased sex drive
- Dry skin
- Increased hunger
- Increased or reduced heart rate
- Increased thirst
- Joint pain
- Frequent urination
- Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
- Nervousness, anxiety, or irritability
- Thinning hair or fine, brittle hair
- Weight gain or weight loss
Not getting your hormones back in balance could lead to other problems, like elevated cholesterol, osteoporosis, obesity, lack of sleep, and more. Although indeed identified hormone imbalance often need medical or surgical intervention, a healthy lifestyle can improve low-level symptoms.
Register to join Dr Karlien van Wyk, Intercare Milnerton General Practitioner & Dr Pooja Dooken, Intercare Sandton General Practitioner, for the Hormonal Imbalance in Women webinar on 26 September 2023.