What, Exactly, Do Hormones Do?

Well, a lot! Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers’, and they tell your body’s organs what to do and how to do it. The body’s hormones are made by the endocrine glands, which include pituitary gland, pineal gland, thymus, thyroid gland, adrenal glands, pancreas, testes and ovaries. They are essential to our overall health and well-being, so when they start acting up our well-being suffers. That’s why you should always look out for these symptoms and consult with your wellness physician if they arise. Your body is designed to keep all of your body’s hormones balanced. However, there are many unavoidable ‘ factors that act as an endocrine disruptor and can throw your hormone balance off:

  • Menopause
  • Pregnancy
  • Menstrual cycle
  • The contraceptive pill
  • Inconsistent sleep patterns
  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
That’s a lot of stuff! Now, this leads us to the question, “How do I know if my hormones are imbalanced?” More importantly, “How can I get them back on track?!”

Signs, Symptoms & Possible Solutions to Hormone Imbalances

There are many side effects of hormone imbalance, but there are a few that show themselves early on and in full force. This list is certainly not exhaustive, but for every one we list, we also offer you a great resource for natural and medical solutions!

  1. Weight Gain
  2. As you get older, you are going to gain weight. It’s a fact of life. It’s primarily caused by a decrease in energy due to less activity, a slowing metabolism, and maintaining the same food intake instead of changing your eating habits as you age. However, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and adrenal hormones affect your metabolism and fat storage.

    Whether your weight gain is age or menopause related, weight gain around the menopausal years could be improved by lifestyle changes. These changes include proper diet modification and exercise, as well as adding female hormone replacement therapy to a healthy lifestyle. Take a look at this post from Prevention.com called “How To Turn Off Your Weight Gain Hormones”.

  3. Hot Flashes
  4. Hot flash: the most common menopause related discomfort. Hot flashes are assumed to be the result of changes in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that regulates your body’s temperature. In order for your body to cool down you may start to sweat, in addition to an increased pulse rate and a sensation of a rapid heartbeat. Night sweats

    The solution for hot flashes, sadly, is time. Typically, they will stop over time. The duration in which they last varies for each individual. They may last for only a few months or potentially, a few years. We recommend this Healthline page on “Understanding and Dealing with Hot Flashes”.

  5. Headaches
  6. That nasty headache you have may be the result of your hormones. Women who have had headaches during perimonpause, around their menstrual cycle, or when taking oral contraceptives are typically at a higher risk. These types of headaches are usually the result of decreased levels of estrogen.

    After menopause is reached, hormonal headaches typically stop. Hormone replacement strategies have value for these types of headaches, but whether that value is short term or long term varies with each patient. If you are suffering from Hormonal Headaches, check out the link for some ways to prevent them!

  7. Moodiness and Depression
  8. Unfortunately, some perimenopausal women have symptoms of mood swings and feeling discouraged. Sleep deprivation associated with night sweats often causes the fatigue, irritability, and moodiness.

    During perimenopause, your hormone rhythm changes, and erratic hormonal ups and downs, although normal, can create the feeling that you have lost control. Most physicians understand the strong influence of hormones on emotions and support hormone treatments for stability.

    Check out these “9 Ways to Even Out Menopause Mood Swings” for more information!

  9. Hair Thinning
  10. As we age hair becomes gray and more brittle. Hair may also grow in unwanted areas such as your chin, upper lip, and cheeks. This is a menopause related shift and changes the balance between testosterone and estrogen.

    Don’t worry; we have some solutions for you! Eating a healthy diet, adding a daily multivitamin, and avoiding harsh chemicals and sunlight all help maintain healthy hair. Replacing estrogen can help restore the balance, which will counteract some of the testosterone. Read this article on “Combating Hair Woes During Menopause” for some more tips on how to control hair problems during menopause.

  11. Update: Supplementing Progesterone
  12. “Progesterone is a hormone released by the ovaries. Changing progesterone levels can contribute to abnormal menstrual periods and menopausal symptoms. Progesterone is also necessary for implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus and for maintaining pregnancy. Lab-made progesterone is used to imitate the functions of the progesterone released by the ovaries.

    Progesterone cream is sometimes used in hormone replacement therapy and for treating menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes. Topical progesterone is also used for treating or preventing certain allergies in which hormones play a role; and for treating bloating, breast tenderness, decreased sex drive, depression, fatigue, lumpy (fibrocystic) breasts, headaches, low blood sugar, increased blood clotting, infertility, irritability, memory loss, miscarriages, brittle bones (osteoporosis), bone loss in younger women, symptoms of PMS, thyroid problems, ‘foggy thinking,’ uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, water retention, weight gain, and vaginal irritation (vulval lichen sclerosis).” – WEB MD

Hormone Imbalance Solutions

If you have any of these symptoms, you may have a hormone imbalance. Don’t panic though, because there are options. Hormonal treatment options have evolved in recent years, and hopefully there’s something for you! If hormone treatment is something you’re interested in please contact us for a consultation!