Hormones are the chemical messengers of the body. They are produced in the endocrine glands and sent in the bloodstream to various tissue and organs in the body. They control how cells and organs do their work. The major endocrine glands are the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenal glands, and pancreas. Also, men produce hormones in their testes and women produce them in their ovaries.
Hormonal imbalance occurs when hormone levels rise above or drop below normal levels in the bloodstream. It is normal and natural for women to experience hormonal imbalance at certain points in their lives (menstruation, puberty, pregnancy and menopause). Certain medical conditions, lifestyle habits, environmental conditions, and endocrine gland malfunctions can be other causes of hormonal imbalance in females.
Untreated hormonal imbalance may increase the risk of conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.The effects of hormonal imbalance can be uncomfortable and even delipitating. Many times they can be mistaken as a result of stress. Here are 10 signs that you do indeed have hormonal imbalance.
1. Irregular periods
A period normally lasts between 2 to 8 days and the menstrual cycle (first day of your last period to the first day of your next period) can be 21 to 35 days. If this is not the case for you it may be a sign of hormonal imbalance. You may have irregular periods if the time between each period changes often, you lose less or more blood than usual or the number of days that your period lasts varies a lot.
Infertility is when a woman is unable to conceive a child after 12 months of regular intercourse (at least 3 times a week) with her partner without contraception. The proper balance of hormones is essential for efficient reproductive cycles such as ovulation (egg is released from the ovary into the fallopian tube where it can be fertilized) and the whole system of conception (fertilization of the egg by the sperm). Hormonal imbalance is a major cause of infertility in women (including women in Nigeria).
Fatigue is an overall feeling of tiredness or lack of energy. It is the most common symptom of hormonal imbalance. If your thyroid (a gland in your neck) makes too little thyroid hormone, it can sap your energy. Increased levels of the progesterone hormone (plays important roles in the menstrual cycle and in maintaining the early stages of pregnancy) can also cause you to feel fatigued.
4. Hair loss/Thin Hair
Decreased levels of oestrogen (helps develop and maintain the reproductive system and strengthens bones) and progesterone hormones can make hair thinner. These dips also prompt an increase in androgen hormone (these contribute to growth and reproduction in both men and women) levels that shrink follicles and result in hair loss.
5. Problems falling asleep
An inability to fall asleep or or sleep well at night is a sign of hormonal imbalance. Having trouble sleeping is a valid reason to check your hormone levels. Decreased levels of the hormone progesterone which is produced by the ovaries could be a cause of the sleeplessness. Low levels of oestrogen can cause profuse sweating and night sweats that get in the way of a good night’s rest.
Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It causes whiteheads, blackheads or pimples and can be the result of hormonal imbalance. Acne that does not go away may be due to high levels of androgen hormone. This makes oil glands extra productive and affects skin cells that line hair follicles. Excess oil and skin cell changes clog pores, leading to acne.
7. Abdominal Discomfort
Fluctuations in oestrogen and progesterone levels can also have an impact on digestion. This is because the gastrointestinal tract have receptors for both of these hormones) These changes tend to occur during your monthly periods, which is why some women complain of abdominal pain, constipation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and bloating around that time.
8. Mood Swings
A mood swing is a sudden or intense change in emotional state. In some cases, the switch in emotions or mood swings can be caused by a hormonal imbalance. Estrogen has an effect on neurotransmitters including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters play a role in regulating your mood.
9. Weight gain
Hormones are responsible for regulating metabolism as well as determining how energy is used by the body. When the body produces very low or insufficient amounts of the thyroid hormone, hypothyroidism occurs, leading to considerable weight gain. A decrease in oestrogen levels can also make you feel hungrier than usual, causing you to eat more and gain weight.
10. Excessive Body Hair
Some women experience excessive growth of hair on their face, chest, back and arms. All women have facial and body hair, the difference is the texture. It is normally fine and light in color, unwanted hair is coarse and dark. Excessive hair is due to higher than normal levels of androgens, including testosterone. There are medical conditions (for instance Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) that cause women to produce higher levels of androgens.
Hormonal imbalance can cause a great deal of inconvenience and discomfort. However, with our female hormone blood test, detecting hormonal imbalance at home has been made easy.