Hormones are chemical “messengers” that impact the way your cells and organs function. It’s normal for your levels to shift at different times of your life, such as before and during your period or a pregnancy, or during menopause. But some medications and health issues can cause them to go up or down, too.
Hormone imbalances can cause many symptoms but at times, some of the symptoms are hard to know the causes. That’s because doctors and researchers still have a lot to learn about how they affect us. Below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of a hormone imbalance:
1. Irregular periods
WebMD explains that most women have their periods every 21 to 35 days. So if you notice that your periods start becoming irregular from their normal schedule, it could be a sign of a hormone imbalance like too much or too like estrogen or progesterone.
If you notice these changes with your menstrual cycle, talk to your doctor. They could also be a sign of other health problems, like polycystic ovarian syndrome, or premenopause.
2. Trouble sleeping
If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, it could be due to a hormone imbalance. WebMD explains that progesterone helps you get a good nights rest. And, low estrogen — like when you go into menopause — hot flashes and night sweats which make it hard to catch zzz’s.
3. Weight gain
Now, this can be a hard one to evaluate because weight gain can be caused by a myriad of factors. But, estrogen dips have been known to cause weight gain, and experts think it’s because the decrease in hormones makes you feel down or irritated — prompting people to eat. WebMD explains that an estrogen drop can also affect the hormone leptin which regulates your body’s food intake.
4. Breast changes
Besides seeing your doctor, you should always perform self-checks on your breasts regularly. If you notice that your breast tissue is less dense, it could be a sign of a drop in estrogen. Alternatively, an increase in estrogen can cause your breasts to even form lumps or cysts. Always get these checked out by a doctor.
5. Severe acne
Just about everyone gets acne once in a while, especially women during their menstrual cycle. But, if you experience chronic acne, WebMD explains it could be a sign of excess androgen hormones. These are typically known as ‘male’ hormones, even though women’s bodies produce them, too. But, too much can cause your oil glands to go into overdrive, often causing acne.
6. Stomach problems
If you haven’t realized, an estrogen imbalance can wreak havoc on your body, including your stomach. WebMD explains that estrogen and progesterone affect the cells in your gut that process food — sometimes causing problems like stomach pain, nausea, bloating and even diarrhea.
7. Chronic tiredness
If you’re feeling tired and foggy all the time, it could be a thyroid hormone imbalance that causes you to be sleepy. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms, a simple blood test can determine if your thyroid is the problem.
8. Lower libido
You probably assume that a low libido means low estrogen, right? Well, WebMD explains that it is actually low testosterone — the ‘male’ sex hormone — that can cause lower libidos.
Hormones are complex, and doctors still don’t know how they exactly affect the brain. But, Livestrong explains that estrogen and progesterone can cause headaches in women — especially before their periods. So if you see a shift in your period headaches, it could be a sign of a hormone imbalance.
10. Memory troubles
Do you find yourself being forgetful often? This lapse might seem like a little inconvenience, but it could be a symptom of a bigger problem like a cortisol hormone imbalance. Cortisol, the hormone released when you’re stressed, can have a big impact on your adrenal glands over a long period of stress — affecting cognitive functions like memory, or your ability to focus. As always, talk to a doctor about your symptoms to pinpoint the problem.