Something’s just not right. You’re eating more, sleeping less, feeling frazzled, and stress has become your default mode — even when life is going smoothly. You just don’t feel at home in your body the way you used to.
Most of the women at our practice have similar complaints, and while the symptoms may vary, a common denominator exists: hormone imbalance.
Hormonal imbalance tends to show up as women age, but factors related to our modern world — environmental pollution, chemicals in our food, synthetic estrogens in our beauty products — leave women of all ages vulnerable to hormonal chaos.
The tricky thing about hormonal imbalance is that it often sneaks around in the background, wreaking havoc on your health, before you even know it’s there. Worse yet, doctors may dismiss your symptoms or attribute them to something else entirely.
So how do you know if you have a hormonal imbalance? Without a few basic tests, you can’t be sure. But the following signs may be a fairly good indication that something isn’t right, and your hormones could use some help:
- You’re wired — and tired.
Does it feel like you fluctuate between periods of being high strung and completely exhausted?
We call this being “wired and tired,” and we have the stress hormone cortisol to blame for that. Chronic stress results in high cortisol levels, which then cause the three F’s: fat, frazzled, and frumpy. Fluctuating cortisol levels cause stress on your adrenals and put you on a roller coaster ride of feeling wound up, but exhausted at the same time. So what happens when your adrenals have had enough? They quit. You feel lethargic, heavy, foggy, and maybe even a little depressed.
- Your libido has gone missing.
Did you know that about 70 percent of low libido is hormonal? So let’s stop the blaming and shaming here — for women, not wanting to get frisky is very often more than just a psychological problem. In most cases, estrogen dominance or low estrogen can be blamed, but your thyroid health and cortisol levels can also play a role. Add to that high stress, burning the candle at both ends and poor sleep, and sex is probably the last thing on your mind.
- You have crazy cravings.
Women may be hard-wired to need chocolate, but if you find yourself ravenous on a consistent basis, your hormones could be to blame. High cortisol or insulin, for instance, can cause those intense urges for sugar or wine, while adrenal dysregulation can lead to electrolyte imbalances that make you reach for salty snacks.
- You can’t lose the weight.
Your hormones run the show when it comes to your metabolism. Stubborn excess weight that just won’t go away — no matter how many spin classes you’re doing — is often rooted in hormonal imbalance that causes fat storage, especially around the midsection. Many patients at Rejuv are stunned when they realize they don’t have to kill themselves exercising; it’s simply a matter of finding hormonal harmony and adopting the right lifestyle and dietary habits.
- Your moods are like a roller coaster ride.
We’re taught from a young age that mood swings are just part of our monthly cycle. And while this is partially true, women with balanced hormones don’t experience the extreme highs and lows of PMS. And yes — you can even navigate the menopause years without going crazy! If your mood issues haven’t improved with drugs or therapy, it might be time to look at how your hormones are crashing the party.
3 Tips to Reverse the Damage (Naturally)
The obvious question, then, is how to address these issues and how to return to a state of improved hormonal balance?
First, test your hormone levels. There are a number of tests that look at hormones; blood tests are conventionally used, but salivary tests can also be utilized to offer a more functional view of levels available for use in the body. While we recommend partnering with one of our physicians and ordering some basic tests, you can also start balancing your hormones naturally right now. Here are three tips:
- Get a better night’s sleep.
There’s probably nothing that will help your hormones more than making quality sleep a priority. Bedtime should be a sacred ritual that calms and soothes you: Take a relaxing bath, turn off electronics at least two hours before you go to sleep, and make sure your thermostat is set to about 65 degrees or cooler.
- Go gluten-free.
Gluten intolerance is a very real problem that doesn’t just affect people with celiac disease. It’s been linked to estrogen imbalances, menstrual disorders, and diminished ovarian reserve. We recommend the majority of our my patients to cut out or minimize gluten and opt for whole grains like brown rice or quinoa instead.
- Stress less.
Stress is like pouring gasoline on an already roaring hormonal fire. It raises cortisol levels, taxes the adrenals, and zaps you of energy, joy, and a healthy libido. Stress causes the depletion of the hormone progesterone while increasing the long-term stress hormone cortisol. As the body makes more cortisol it leaves less progesterone to be available for use. Stress also depletes your levels of serotonin and dopamine which are two neurotransmitters responsible for mood-enhancement. These neurotransmitters are responsible for alleviating PMS and hormonal symptoms such as breast pain, digestive upset, cravings, depression, insomnia, anxiety, poor concentration, and lack of motivation. Stress also raises the hormone aldosterone which contributes to water retention and magnesium loss. Advanced testing that looks at your cortisol and progesterone levels can lead to a clear understanding of what could be causing your problems and what specific treatments would be most effective in helping you. Something you can start doing immediately to help with this is to adopt a consistent practice of stress-busting activities: yoga, meditation, massage, walking in nature or whatever other activities mellow your mood.
Unfortunately so many people turn to the wrong treatments – pain medications, anxiety medications, and depression medications, and even surgical interventions to improve their symptoms. Because these interventions fail to address the true cause of hormonal imbalances, many continue to suffer and in many cases their conditions worsen which can lead to more serious disease and illness. You may want to consider appropriate hormone replacement options with us here at Rejuv Medical Louisville. There are many solutions available, giving you many options from which to choose, including:
- Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
- Herbal remedies, especially adaptogens
- Functional nutritional approaches
Having a state of hormonal balance is a critical component to health and well being. Unfortunately, the signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance are very common, which can make detecting and remedying problems difficult. While we can all take steps at home to create a healthy lifestyle and reduce the potential causes, we’re all unique, which means it’s crucial to go through this process with a practitioner competent in individualized medicine.
You can also take the female hormone survey right now. This analysis is your first step to discovering what systems of your body may be keeping you from obtaining the health you deserve.