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Understanding Hormonal Changes in Women

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Why use saliva for hormone testing?

Your hormones are responsible for numerous functions throughout your entire body, from growth and reproduction to metabolism and energy processing. When hormonal changes occur, they can lead to a significant imbalance, causing some undesirable symptoms.

While many hormonal changes are completely natural and to be expected, others could be a sign that something is wrong in your body. By understanding the signs, causes, and treatment options regarding hormone issues, you can help restore that natural balance in your life while enjoying better health.

What Are the Common Signs of Hormone Imbalance in Women?

Hormone symptoms are vast and can vary from person to person. Also, many of these issues are relatively common to other health conditions. By paying close attention to your body and looking for specific combinations, you can better assess your symptoms to determine whether or not they are hormone-related. For most women, the following symptoms can point to hormone imbalance:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Skin changes, especially darker pigmentation in some areas
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Hair loss
  • Acne
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Low sex drive
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Joint or muscle pain and stiffness
  • Anxiety, irritability, or depression

Over time, many of these symptoms can lead to poor quality of life. Fortunately, there are options for treating hormonal shifts, including medications and hormone replacement therapy for menopause. Pinpointing the underlying cause can help you determine the right treatment plan to help alleviate your unwanted symptoms.

What Causes Hormonal Fluctuations?

There are numerous reasons your hormone levels could be out of balance. These are some of the most common causes, although others do exist.

Medications

Numerous medications can affect your body’s hormone levels. Prednisone, chemotherapy drugs, and many other prescription drugs can cause hormonal changes. The use of illicit drugs can also lead to significant hormone imbalance.

High Stress Levels

Stress is an incredibly powerful factor that affects numerous aspects of your health. Not only can it lead to cardiovascular problems and mental health issues, but it can also impact your body’s natural production of healthy hormones. High stress levels can be the result of:

  • A demanding job
  • Lack of sleep
  • Consuming too much alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, or simple carbs
  • Relationship difficulties with friends, family, or coworkers
  • Too much time spent on electronic devices
  • A traumatic life event

When your stress levels climb, your body produces more cortisol, which can inhibit other healthy hormones.

Poor Lifestyle Choices

The foods you eat have a major impact on your overall health. Malnutrition can certainly cause hormonal problems but consuming too many processed or refined foods can have a similar effect. Any behaviors that attribute to increased stress or increase your risk for autoimmune disease can also increase your risk of developing hormone issues.

Underlying Health Conditions

Some preexisting conditions can contribute to hormone imbalance. Diabetes, thyroid issues, and certain cancers can all cause significant changes throughout the body, including producing too much or too little of certain hormones. Ovarian cysts can also lead to this problem.

Natural Changes

For many women, hormonal changes are rooted in completely natural changes that occur as you age. Puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause are all directly connected to the female body’s hormone production, so these changes are to be expected. However, severe symptoms that affect your ability to function well and enjoy life are not considered normal and should be discussed with a doctor.

How are Hormone Issues Diagnosed?

If you’re experiencing symptoms that point to hormonal imbalance, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation. At the office, you’ll receive a physical examination and discuss your symptoms and other concerns. Your doctor may also schedule some additional testing or assessments, such as an ultrasound or blood work, to make an accurate diagnosis and pinpoint the exact cause. Once this is done, they can help you develop a treatment plan to alleviate or eliminate many of your most troublesome symptoms.

How Do You Treat Hormone Imbalance Symptoms?

There are several approaches to help you restore balance to your body’s hormone levels. A medical professional can help you choose the best approach based on your individual symptoms and circumstances.

Lifestyle Changes

Many people can find relief by taking a natural approach to improving their overall health. Reducing stress, eating a healthy diet, and maintaining a steady exercise routine can help bring hormones back to healthy levels. Prioritizing a good night’s rest can also do wonders for your body. Studies have shown that getting to a healthy weight can help improve numerous symptoms while correcting hormone imbalance.

Medication

Sometimes, some minor medication changes can work wonders. Talk to your doctor about any current medications you may take and if alternatives exist. Changing the brand, dosage, or time of day you take your medication may have a big impact on your hormone levels. In addition, your doctor may recommend a supplement or prescription to help correct a more severe hormone imbalance.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

For menopausal women, hormone replacement therapy can help reduce the frequency and severity of unwanted symptoms, especially hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and vaginal dryness. When estrogen and progesterone levels are restored to healthy levels, women can enjoy a better quality of life as they transition to this next phase of life.

For many women, hormonal imbalance can be a struggle that leads to a host of unwanted side effects. However, numerous treatment options exist and can help you live a happier and healthier life. If you’re experiencing symptoms of hormone imbalance, talk with a doctor about your options today.