On thing we women have problems with is our hormones. In the yogic tradition we call the hormones "the guardians of the soul". Sounds kind of beautiful, right? They affect us so much. Our physical health, our emotional health our well being. It can be quite confusing with hormones. The endocrine system is rather complex and the hormones also affect each other. So I asked my friend Robyn at Hormone Diva to sort things out when it comes to hormones. Check out her website and her products. She is selling tea for cramps and hot flashes. You can take a quiz on her website to have an idea what hormone imbalance you have. Enjoy the post!
The amount of women with hormonal imbalances continues to rise at pretty staggering rates. So many women are plagued with infertility, bothersome periods and wicked menopause that it’s practically epidemic. The truth here is that even though the numbers may show experiencing these things is ‘normal’, in reality it’s far from it.
My periods were always irregular- right from being a 12 year old girl getting her period for the first time to very recently. When I was younger I didn’t know that was wrong. I also didn’t realize that the depression, weight gain and extreme fatigue I felt wasn’t normal. Eventually I found out I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and finally had a reason for my problems. That reason is hormonal imbalance!
To help you decide whether what you are feeling is normal or not, the major signs of hormonal imbalance are listed below. While this list is by no means exhaustive (there are over 150 symptoms for PMS alone!!) they are the major ones most women I come across are experiencing.
Irregular, Painful or Absent Periods
Menstrual periods, on average, should come every between every 21 to 35 days. Most women average around 28 days. If your cycles are not within this range, it is very likely you have a hormonal imbalance. There is a delicate balance between what the brain signals and how our body creates hormones. When this is disrupted, you may experience irregular or absent periods. The most common cause of this is too much estrogen and too little progesterone. The same goes if your periods are very painful. Menstrual cramps shouldn’t keep you chained to the bed for days or using up that bottle of Midol.
Anxiety, Irritability and Depression
Life has its ups and downs. We all experience moments of feeling sad, dejected or downright pissed off. This is a normal and wonderfully frustrating part of life. If you feel particularly depressed or anxious much of the time (or before your period) than it’s possible you have a hormonal imbalance. The cause of these symptoms ranges from the standard excess estrogen to low progesterone to nutrient deficiency and poor digestion. If you feel the emotional symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, and are truly suffering or feeling out of control, consult a doctor or therapist.
Belly Fat and/or Persistent Weight Gain
Ahhh. . .the dreaded belly fat!! We are a very image-driven society, and you may be feeling the pressure of the media, family, friends or general ideals of what beauty is. Skinny with a taut tummy isn’t the norm and you should love yourself no matter what. That being said, excessive belly fat (like the kind pouring over your waistband) is dangerous to your health. The belly fat is usually a result of imbalanced hormones- namely insulin and cortisol. Controlling blood sugar and stress response respectively, an imbalance in one will cause an imbalance in the other. Excessive estrogen or low thyroid function could also be a cause of this.
Fatigue or Low Stamina
If you are feeling sluggish, fatigued or exhausted- your hormones could be imbalanced. Remember that stress-managing hormone cortisol? It is manufactured in your adrenal glands, glands that sit atop your kidneys. If you are chronically stressed your adrenals become too tired to manage your stress hormones, and sex hormones take a hit. This is extremely common for women with horrible PMS or menopause symptoms. All the energy you want is there for the taking, and once hormones are in balance, you will be able to roll with the punches and live your days high on life.
Trouble falling asleep. Trouble staying asleep. Tossing and turning. Waking feeling unrested. These are the most common sleep disturbances you might experience. If you are headed in the direction of menopause or just have vicious PMS and having sleep problems- it could be your hormones. As we age, our ability to produce melatonin (the sleepy hormone) decreases. Combine that with lowered estrogen and calming progesterone, sleep can be hard to come by. If sleep disturbance plagues you it could mean hormonal imbalance.
Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
Probably the most common menopausal symptom I see it hot flashes. You may feel all of a sudden very hot, your face may be flushed and you could also feel anxious during a hot flash. These episodes can be extremely disruptive to your life. Night sweats are essentially hot flashes that happen at night, and may wake you from sleep. As if sleep wasn’t already hard to come by! Hot flashes can occur because too much estrogen compared to too little progesterone. Thyroid, adrenal, digestive and other imbalances can cause hot flashes.
Acne or Skin Problems
As a woman with PCOS, I’m all too familiar with the plague that is adult acne. In the case of PCOS, the acne is most often due to excess estrogen and testosterone, creating very oily skin prone to deep, cystic breakouts. If you acne predominates your chin and jawline, it’s likely that hormonal imbalance is the cause. If you skin is dry, thinning or itchy, menopause (including low estrogen) and underachieve thyroid could be to blame.
From young to old, many women experience bouts of low sex drive. You may even notice that your libido is higher during certain times in your cycle. Often low libido is caused by low estrogen, in the case of fertile and menopausal women. Stressed out adrenal and thyroid glands can cause hormonal imbalances leading to low libido as well.
You may be feeling overwhelmed with trying to figure out what is going on with your body. There are so many answers and even more possibilities. Putting all of your symptoms together to complete your body puzzle is the first step to making positive change. This quiz will do just that, and help you with your next steps.
By: Robyn Srigley
Robyn Srigley is The Hormone Diva, a women’s holistic health coach. Robyn’s own journey with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) jumpstarted her passion for helping women replace their anxieties with joy to open possibility in their lives and break free of hormonal imbalance. Robyn is the health writer for her local BUZZ Magazine, is a regular contributor to Be Prepared Period.com and is featured on MindBodyGreen. You can find out more about her work at www.thehormonediva.com
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