Are you feeling angry, frustrated or emotionally drained – and you don’t know why? You could have a hormonal imbalance. As women go through changes throughout their life, it’s normal for their hormone levels to shift, which can happen before or during a period or a pregnancy, in addition to menopause. Here are 11 signs your hormonal levels may be off:
1. Constant Fatigue
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a hormonal imbalance. Excess progesterone or a decrease in thyroid hormone levels can drain your energy, and make you constantly tired. So if you’re feeling overly tired for the majority of your day, your hormones could be to blame.
2. Weight Gain
One of the symptoms most commonly associated with a hormonal imbalance is weight gain. If your hormones aren’t balanced, it’s very easy to gain weight. Hormone imbalances leave our bodies with a decreased amount of resources to produce large quantities of estrogen and progesterone – the hormones responsible for metabolism, digestion, and appetite. A shift in these hormones will lead to weight gain.
3. Digestive Problems
Your hormone levels may be off if you’re experiencing digestive problems. If your estrogen and progesterone levels are higher or lower than usual, you will see unwelcoming changes in how you’re digesting food. These shifting hormones can result in diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, constipation, nausea and a buildup of gas.
A decline in estrogen levels can lead to headaches. That’s why it’s common for headaches to occur right before – or during – your period, when estrogen levels are low. Regular headaches, or ones that occur around the same time each month, can be a sign that your hormone levels are shifting.
5. Hot Flashes
Hot flashes can be triggered when estrogen levels are too low. Sudden feelings of intense warmth on the face, neck and chest are signs that you’re having hot flashes. Your skin may become red, and you may also begin profusely sweating. Hot flashes may also occur if there is too much estrogen and too little progesterone, or from hormone imbalances coming from the adrenals, ovaries, thyroid, pancreas or gastrointestinal tract in your body. These different systems of the body are not always guaranteed to stay balanced, and can shift during menopausal transitions.
6. Breast Changes
A decline in estrogen can make your breast tissue less dense. Your breasts will lose firmness and fullness, and your cup size might change. However, if you have an increase in estrogen, the tissue will thicken – maybe even causing new lumps or cysts. Either way, if you notice any breast changes, see a doctor to confirm that there isn’t a bigger issue at hand.
7. Sleeping Problems
The hormone progesterone helps you sleep. If your progesterone levels are lower than usual, it can make it difficult to fall or stay asleep. If your estrogen levels are also low, it can trigger hot flashes and night sweats – both contributing factors to people who can’t get adequate sleep.
8. Vaginal Dryness
Dryness is normal on occasion, but if you’re regularly noticing that your vagina is dry or irritated, low estrogen could be the cause. Estrogen helps your vaginal tissue stay moist and comfortable, but if your estrogen levels decline due to an imbalance, it can diminish vaginal fluids and cause tightness.
9. Chronic Acne
Breakouts that happen around a woman’s menstrual cycle are completely normal. However, if her acne regularly shows no signs of clearing up, it could be a sign of an imbalance. An excess of androgen hormones can cause oil glands to overly produce. Getting the oil trapped under the skin can cause clogged pores, pimples and blemishes.
10. Loss of Sex Drive
Low levels of estrogen can cause women to have a low sex-drive. This could be linked to both menopause and pregnancy. When women transition into menopause their estrogen levels drop, causing a decreased interest in sex. When these levels drop they can also cause dryer vaginal tissues, resulting in painful or uncomfortable sex that is not desirable. Additionally, hormone changes after pregnancy can lead to decrease in a woman’s sex-drive.
11. Mood Swings and Depression
Fluctuating hormone levels can cause moodiness and depression. During the different stages of menopause, estrogen levels drop – this affects important brain chemicals that make you happy, like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Specifically, if serotonin levels drop, your mood will become worse. High irritability can also be one of the signs that you are experiencing mood swings and a hormonal imbalance.