Hormones are chemical messengers that play lots of physiological functions in the body ranging from hunger, tiredness, sensual feeling to sexual urge. The endocrine organs produce many of these hormones which regulate various activities of the body, from the overall pace of the body metabolism to the precise timing of the menstrual cycle. Hormone imbalances can greatly affect female fertility and many other body functions. The physical effects of a hormone imbalance on a woman’s body often help the physician to discover the underlying cause of some of her health problem.
Effect of Hormonal Imbalance
As hormones are known as triggering agents that facilitate an activity, a shortage or over-production of these hormones can have a great effect on the both the physical and psychological health of a woman. Listed below are few effects of various hormones in the body:
• Menorrhagia; Menorrhagia, which is also known as irregular menstrual periods, in women within the childbearing age may be a focal symptom of hormone imbalance. Many diseases and conditions can alter the proper hormone balance required for regular menstruation. Abnormal levels of hormones from the pituitary gland of the brain or the adrenal glands can also cause a hormonal imbalance, leading to irregular menstrual periods.
• Hirsutism; This is a hormonal condition where the woman develops excessive hair on her body. Normally the adrenal gland produces a moderate level of testosterone in women. Women with excess testosterone, or hyperandrogenism, may notice coarse hair growth especially on their faces, such as the chin and/or upper lip. Some may develop excessive hair on their chests too. Possible causes of hyperandrogenism with hirsutism include polycystic ovary syndrome, certain types of ovarian tumors, pituitary tumors, and adrenal gland overgrowth or tumour.
• Scalp Hair Loss; Balding is not limited to men alone. Several types of hormone imbalances can cause scalp hair loss in women which may take the male pattern balding, with a receding hairline and hair loss on top of the head. Women with excessive testosterone in their blood can experience such. Women with an overactive or underactive thyroid gland frequently experience overall thinning of the scalp hair.
• Hot Flashes: Hot flashes are sudden, brief periods of profuse sweating accompanied by the feeling of being overheated. It occurs in approximately 85 percent of women as they approach menopause and for a variable time after menopause. Biomedical scientists theorize that hot flashes occur due to low estrogen levels. Hot flashes in young women may be a symptom of primary ovarian insufficiency, a condition in which the ovaries fail to consistently produce normal levels of female sex hormones, explains the National Institutes of Health. Women with primary ovarian insufficiency may develop premature osteoporosis due to the hormone imbalances associated with the condition.
• Infertility: Progesterone is necessary to balance estrogen. If estrogen is not balanced with progesterone, then women may develop infertility, endometriosis, skipped periods, heavy bleeding and fibroids, all of which hinder their chances of becoming pregnant. Progesterone is necessary for proper thyroid function, which also affects fertility.Progesterone production from the corpus luteum is critical for natural reproduction and progesterone supplementation seems to be an important aspect of any assisted reproductive treatment. Progesterone is important for the process of implantation and early embryonic development. Luteal phase deficiency is a condition of insufficient progesterone exposure to maintain a normal secretory endometrium and allow for normal embryo implantation and growth. Luteal phase deficiency in natural cycles is a plausible cause of infertility and pregnancy loss. Luteal phase deficiency has been implicated as a cause of irregular menstrual bleeding, infertility, and recurrent pregnancy loss.Other symptoms of hormonal imbalance may include:
• Weight gain or weight loss (that’s unexplained and not due to intentional changes in your diet)
• Depression and anxiety
• Low libido
• Changes in appetite
• Digestive issues
Because hormones are vital chemical messengers controlling most of the activities in the body, a low or excessively high quantity of these hormones can cause major health problems. Some of the negative effect of these hormones could be reversed and treated through synthetic hormone replacement therapies, birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medications and more. However, this synthetic treatment may result in dependence on the drugs and a more severe adverse effect such as cancer, stroke and osteoporosis.Discussed below are ways you can manage hormonal imbalance both pharmaceutically and naturally:Eat Healthy Fats (Including Coconut Oil and Avocados)Eating a variety of foods high in short, medium and long-chain fatty acids plays a vital role in keeping one’s hormones in check. The body needs various types of fats to create hormones, including saturated fat and cholesterol. Not only are these essential fats fundamental building blocks for hormone production, but they keep inflammation levels low, boost metabolism and promote weight loss.The uses for coconut oil are numerous, for example coconut oil (or cream/milk) has natural anti-bacterial and fat-burning effects. Avocado benefits include improving heart health, lowering inflammation, controlling the appetite and contributing to one’s daily intake of fiber and nutrients such as potassium. Salmon nutrition is also impressive: it’s one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to lower inflammation and help with cognitive functions. Balance Your Intake of Omega-3 to Omega-6 Fats Since the early 20th century, the use of refined vegetable oils and intake of omega-6 fatty acids in our diets have skyrocketed. Because people didn’t also boost their intake of omega-3 foods during this time period, the result has been drastically elevated omega-6 levels. Omega-3 fatty acids are a large component of brain-cell membranes and are important for cell-to-cell communication in the brain. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids help protect against hippocampal neuronal loss and reduce pro-inflammatory responses. Research from Pennsylvania State University suggests that jumping from a ratio of 1:1 omega-3/omega-6s to the astronomical ratio between 10:1 and 20:1 (omega-3/omega-6s) is one of the primary dietary factors causing many diseases in America. Natural sources of omega-3s also include wild fish, flax seed, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products. GLA (gamma-linoleic acid) can be taken in supplement form by using evening primrose oil or borage oil, and it’s also found in hemp seeds. Studies show supplementing with GLA can support healthy progesterone levels.
Improve the Health of the Digestive System and prevent Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky gut is a condition that not only affects the digestive tract, but also causes hormone issues. Gut problems have been found to trigger autoimmune reactions, including arthritis and thyroid disorders. When undigested food particles, like gluten for example, leak through the gut into the bloodstream, it causes disease-causing inflammation that impacts the entire body, especially glands like the thyroid which is very susceptible to heightened inflammation. Most people with leaky gut have a deficiency of probiotics in their guts. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can actually improve production and regulation of key hormones like insulin, ghrelin and leptin which play vital role in food digestion.It is therefore important to avoid foods that can cause damage to the digestive system most, such as processed foods, gluten, hydrogenated oils and added sugar. The top foods and supplements that help in healing leaky gut include bone broth, kefir, fermented vegetables, and high-fiber foods like vegetables and sprouted seeds. In addition, supplements like digestive enzymes and probiotics can aid in repairing the gut lining, which in turn can balance the hormones.Disuse Toxic Kitchen, Beauty and Body Care Products Another way to eliminate toxins in the body is to avoid conventional body care products that are made with potentially-harmful chemicals including DEA, parabens, propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulfate. A better alternative is to use natural products made with ingredients like essential oils, coconut oil, shea butter and castor oil. The Environmental Working Group evaluated over 72,000 products and ranked them in an easy-to-understand guide to make sure end users have a resource to keep their families safe. Another thing to consider is the use of plastic bottles, aluminum cans and containers. It’s best to replace plastic and aluminum with glass and stainless steel because of the toxic effect of the chemicals used in making them. Another wise precaution is to switch from teflon pans to stainless steel, ceramic or cast iron, which can make a big difference in the amount of chemicals making their way into our food.
(Especially Interval Training)One of the best all-around activities you can do for your health is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Exercise in general is great for balancing hormones because it reduces inflammation, can help maintain a healthy weight, lowers stress, helps regulate appetite, and aids in getting better sleep. HIIT and burst training can help the body regulate production and use of these hormones. Exercise can also enhance the immune system, allow the cells to take up more glucose, protect one from depression, and keep one more alert without the need for caffeine.According to the University of Notre Dame Medical School in Sydney, HIT is associated with increased patient compliance and improved cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes and is suitable for implementation in both healthy and ‘at risk’ population. For people with hormonal imbalances, the key with exercise is to be careful not to overdo it. Training for a shorter period of time, for example 20-30 minutes, but with higher intensity, works well for most people who can’t afford to add any extra stress to their system. Keep in mind that optimal exercise can differ a lot from person to person however, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a processional if you are unsure.
Less Stress and More Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can be harmful to the body. A lack of sleep or disturbing the natural circadian rhythm can be one of the worst habits contributing to a hormone imbalance. This is because all the systems work are so programmed to work and rest when they should. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, is usually regulated at midnight. Therefore, people who go to bed late never truly get a break from their sympathetic flight/fight stress response.A lack of sleep, long-term use of corticosteroids and chronic stress are three of the biggest contributors to high cortisol levels. A report published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism stated that stress can lead to changes in the serum level of many hormones including glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormone and prolactin. Sleep helps keep stress hormones balanced, builds energy and allows the body to recover properly. Excessive stress and poor sleep are linked with higher levels of morning cortisol, decreased immunity, trouble with work performance, and a higher susceptibility to anxiety, weight gain and depression. To maximize hormone function, ideally try to get to bed by 10 p.m and stick with a regular sleep-wake-cycle as much as possible.
Cut down Caffeine & Alcohol Intake Taking
Caffeine in moderate amounts might be okay for some people, but excessive consumption of caffeine is quite terrible that it affect one getting adequate rest. Caffeine, which can stay in your system for up to six hours, is a chemical that affects the central nervous system (CNS) and raises your heart rate, increases alertness, and changes the way your brain produces hormones. Although caffeine overdoses are rare, caffeine is capable of elevating cortisol levels if it interferes with your normal sleep cycle. It might also have an impact on other stress hormones, such as adrenaline production. You’re probably aware that caffeine is addictive by nature, increases nervousness and anxiety in many people, and is linked with insomnia.Another important step is to watch alcohol intake, since high levels of alcohol can negatively impact liver functioning. Chronic alcohol consumption can contribute to estrogen dominance and has been found to interfere with pancreatic functioning, increase liver disease risk, lower testosterone and contribute to anxiety and malnutrition. The liver is very important for hormonal balance and has over 500 different functions in the body. Of course it’s extremely important to quit smoking too. Studies have found that smoking interferes with normal immunological and reproductive processes. Compared with nonsmokers, moderate to heavy smokers have abnormal levels of steroid metabolites and reproductive hormones that can be up to 35 percent higher than usual.
Vitamin D3 Supplement-
Vitamin D3’s role in hormone replacement therapy is more important as found by researchers. Researchers found that vitamin D has an impact on human system as it acts like a hormone inside the body and has important implications for keeping inflammation levels low. This is why people who live in dark areas often suffer from seasonal depression and other health problems unless they supplement with vitamin D. Sunshine is really the best way to optimize vitamin D levels because your bare skin actually makes vitamin D on its own when exposed to even small amounts of direct sunlight. Most people should supplement with around 2,000 IU to 5,000 IU daily of vitamin D3 if they live in dark areas, during the winter, and on days when they’re not in the sun.
Staying Off Birth Control Pills-
Birth control pills are a type of hormone therapy that helps to raise estrogen levels and can be to such dangerous levels that it can cause many complications. Studies have shown that the risks of taking them, especially long-term, can include:
• Increased risk of breast cancer
• Benign liver tumors
• Backaches and pains
• Increased risk of uterine bleeding
• blood clotting
• Breast tenderness
• heart attack
• Increased blood pressure
• Weight gain
• Mood swing
-Christiane Northrup, MD, author of The Wisdom of Menopause Journal (Hay House, 2007) and Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom (Bantam Books, 2006). Nanette Santoro, MD, director, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology at Montefiore Medical Center and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
– Steven R. Goldstein, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Medical Center in New York City and coauthor of Could It Be Perimenopause? (Little, Brown and Company, 1998). Rebecca Amaru, MD, clinical instructor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.