The endocrine system secretes chemical substances that are in charge of the function of many body systems. These are called hormones. When your endocrine glands produce more hormones, it affects the proper function of many organs, a condition called hormonal imbalance.
Hormonal imbalances in women are mainly the result of the imbalance of the two most important female hormones – estrogen and progesterone. There are a number of factors that lead to these imbalances, and they are divided in two groups:
- Physiological or internal, and
The internal factors are related to the female reproductive cycle. When this cycle is in balance, only the hormone estrogen is secreted in the first 10-12 days. The ovulation then sends information to the endocrine glands to release progesterone for a balance to be created. Progesterone maintains the endometrial order for the fertilized ovum to get implanted in case of pregnancy. If the ovum is not fertilized, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease and menstruation occurs.
However, sometimes ovulation doesn’t occur, typical of premenopausal women, and then the secreted estrogen cannot be balanced by progesterone, which is only released during ovulation. This leads to an imbalance as estrogen levels continue to rise, while progesterone levels fall.
The external factors that trigger hormonal imbalance in women include estrogen sources other than those naturally secreted in the body.
Nowadays, lack of progesterone affects many women before they even reach menopause.
This is due to a number of contributing factors:
- Xenoestrogens found in cleaners, soaps, sprays, herbicides and cosmetics
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Thyroid gland disorders
- Poor diet (especially a diet rich in fat, sodium and sugar, processed foods and caffeine)
- Rigorous diet (low in fat)
- A diet rich in meat and dairy products (these contain most hormones)
- Alcohol consumption
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Missed ovulation
- Pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals
- Environmental toxins and other pollutants
There’s a simple hormonal imbalance test you can do at home. Read through the most common symptoms and tick the ones that apply to you:
- Monthly weight fluctuation
- Swelling, bloating and water retention
- Feeling heavy and overfed
- Mood swings
- Painful, enlarged breasts
- Feeling depressed
- Unable to deal with common everyday tasks
- Back, joint and muscle pain
- Premenstrual food cravings (especially for sugar and salt)
- Irregular cycles, heavy or very light bleeding
- Being infertile
- Using contraceptives
- Premenstrual migraines
- Breast lumps or cysts
- Family history of breast, ovarian or cervical cancer
- Perimenopausal symptoms including hot flashes, mood swings, headaches, irregular cycles, heavy bleeding, fluid retention, breast tenderness, vaginal dryness, muscle and joint pain, low libido, and weight gain
- Hot flashes
- Feeling upset
- Night sweats
- Cold hands and feet
- Low libido
- Dry skin and hair
- Vaginal dryness
- Decreased memory and concentration
- Bloating and abdominal weight gain
- Facial hair
Now, add up your score and check what it means:
- If you have between 0-9 symptoms, you may have a mild hormonal imbalance.
- If you have between 10-14 symptoms, you have a hormonal imbalance.
- If you have over 15 symptoms, you have a serious hormonal imbalance.
DIAGNOSING HORMONE IMBALANCES
You can easily get tested for a hormonal imbalance after discussing your symptoms with an endocrinologist. There are blood and urine tests that examine your thyroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol etc. Urine tests are normally performed when hormonal changes are tested during pregnancy or ovulation.
It’s important to know that taking medications without medical supervision can put your health at serious risk.
Once a hormonal imbalance is diagnosed, a specialist will describe adequate therapy. If the imbalance is caused by a tumor, a surgery can be one possible treatment.
Aside from standard therapy, lifestyle changes also play an important part during hormone imbalance treatment.
Increasing physical activity and reducing stress is vital, along with eating a healthy balanced diet and drinking lots of fluids, especially before menstruation.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPER DIET
Hormones play an important part for maintaining proper body function. They also affect your spiritual wellbeing.
And, diet is the most important tool for restoring hormonal balance.
The first thing you need to do is cut out sugar, caffeine and alcohol from your diet. Reducing stress and increasing physical activity is also important.
Excessive sugar consumption can trigger overproduction of insulin, estrogen and testosterone. In fact, any type of sugar and sugar can trigger these imbalances.
Hormonal imbalances are often caused by dairy products and gluten too.
Another group of hormone disruptors includes xenobiotics or environmental chemicals including pesticides in food.
Dairy products are one of the main culprits for hormonal imbalances as this food has over 60 hormones that contribute to this condition.
Reducing your intake of these foods and replacing them with healthy and beneficial food sources, such as organic food and filtered water, can correct the hormonal imbalance in your body.
Also, a specialist can put you on a 10-day detox program created according to your specific needs.