Hormonal imbalances can be a difficult, but not uncommon issue faced by women over 40. As we age, our hormone levels naturally fluctuate to accommodate the changes the rest of the body is undergoing, particularly as menopause approaches. Drastic hormone shifts, however, can be indicative of a larger underlying problem that may require immediate treatment. Learn more about hormonal imbalances below, including what symptoms to keep an eye out for.
A Delicate Chemistry
While there may be an unfortunate stigma behind hormones (“going hormonal”, anyone?), the reality is, our hormones play an incredibly important role in helping to manage our overall health and wellness. There are many different kinds of hormones that help regulate our system, but the group that tends to be familiar for most are the steroid or sexhormones, which correspond with the reproductive and sexual systems. Lesser known, but just as important are another group of steroid hormones that are produced by our adrenal glands. Together, these chemicals interact with major systems and functions in the body including:
- Sexuality and reproductive health
- Thyroid function
- Bone Mineral density
- Brain activity
- And much more!
A Look Inside
As we’ve said above, steroid hormones play a crucial role in body and emotional regulation. When the various chemicals within both categories are at proper levels, your system find its easy to stay happy and healthy. If your body begins to develop either a deficiency or an excessive amount of these hormones, however, the results can be quite uncomfortable and even dangerous. To better understand how hormonal imbalances can affect your system, let’s take a closer look at what chemicals can commonly cause an upset. Steroid hormones include:
Estrogen is a female sex hormone that is tied to the ovaries and other areas involved in your reproductive health. Women who are beginning to enter menopause will see a decline in estrogen levels, as well as progesterone (more on that below), both of which result in the eventual ceasing of the menstrual cycle. Estrogen imbalances can sometimes be identified by the following traits:
Hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disorders, vaginal dryness, sudden pain during intercourse, anxiety, mood swings, headaches, depression, memory loss, persistent yeast infections, and more.
Water retention, fatigue, breast swelling, mood swings, loss of libido, weight gain, irregular cycles.
Progesterone is another sex hormone that plays a key role in helping to regulate your monthly cycle, as well as moderate pregnancy and sexual desire. Along with estrogen, a decline in progesterone can be indicative of a shift towards menopause. Imbalances can lead to:
Headaches, low libido, anxiety, swollen breasts, moodiness, mental fog, cramps, weight gain, joint pain, asthma, insomnia, and more.
Drowsiness, menstrual cycle changes
Dehydroepiandrosterone is a vital adrenal hormone that helps to support other hormones within the body. Peak DHEA levels occur at a young age and begins to drop after age 30. Heavy fluctuations may lead to:
Low bone density, chronic fatigue, mood swings, hair loss/sparse hair growth
Acne breakouts, oily skin, deepened voice, ample hair growth.
Cortisol plays a role in controlling blood sugars, regulating your metabolism, acting as an anti-inflammatory, blood pressure, and more. Imbalances may cause:
Fatigue, muscle weakness, nausea, hypotension, low blood sugar, and more.
Obesity, thinning/easily bruised skin, slow healing, osteoporosis, etc.
Is it Menopause, or Something Else?
If you’ve begun to experience persistent occurrences of any of the above symptoms, the best way to determine the cause is to consult your physician. While hormone tests can be useful as precursive indicator for women who suspect they may be entering menopause, the only way to receive a definitive answer is to discuss your experience with a qualified professional. This will give you access to the resources you need to address your symptoms, as well as develop a plan moving forward.
If you are between 45 and 55, and it has been more than 12 months since your last consistent menstrual cycle, you may have begun the transition into menopause. Speaking with your health care practitioner can help address any initial concern.
At Vivaca, we believe in providing natural health options to help women of all backgrounds embrace menopause with ease. Find out about our all-natural, hormone-free, solution by contacting our team today!