When your hormones are in balance life feels really good.
You have a good perspective on pretty much everything and you feel good mentally, emotionally and physically. Your body weight is stable and you like how you look and how you feel.
Just think about how you feel when or if you’ve suffered from PMS. If you’ve suffered from PMS, nothing, nada, no thing feels good. Not life, not how you looked in the mirror, nor how you feel in your own skin. So that’s what I’m talkin’ about when hormones are out of balance. Get me?
Hormones play an essential role in maintaining our quality of life, health and our longevity. Acting as transmitters traveling from the endocrine glands, through the bloodstream and to organs and tissues, hormones affect our hunger, bowel movements, metabolism, sleep, sexual function, focus and attention, and our ability to have children.
They also play a significant role in our mood, the way we feel emotionally. Again, just think PMS. That irritability you can feel just before you start to bleed — that’s progesterone dropping too early. Do you get headaches early on in your cycle? That’s likely estrogen dropping.
When you feel love and connection to others, breast feeding for example, that’s oxytocin. When you feel calm and relaxed, that’s serotonin.
When hormones are working optimally, we feel great! When they’re out of balance, they can create chaos in our everyday lives.(1)
It’s important to pay attention to the changes that develop in our health. As a society we haven’t been taught how to listen to our bodies. We haven’t been taught what good health looks like and therefore we ignore many of the symptoms, believing them to be normal, because they are normal for us and for most of our society.
However, both physical and emotional symptoms are key indicators of hormonal imbalances. Addressing issues early is key, first, because why continue to feel this way when it is easily correctable and so unnecessary and secondly when unaddressed, over time hormonal imbalances lead to long term problems — and hence the reason why we reach the point where we are now — a nation where 50% of the population has at least one chronic health issue — high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune, high cholesterol, thyroid or adrenal issues, etc…
Common Signs of Hormonal Imbalance
Hormones act as signalers in our bodies and keeping them in balance is essential to feeling our best. Imbalances show up differently depending on which hormones are out of balance. It can look something like this:
- Cognitive issues such as poor memory and brain fog(2)
- Mood fluctuations, irritability, anxiety and depression(3)
- Menstrual complications such as extreme PMS, irregular periods, heavy periods or extremely light periods
- Changes to the metabolism including sudden weight gain or loss, constipation, and bloating
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
- Blurred vision
- Sleep disturbances
- Decreased sexual function and/or interest
- Development of breasts in males
The above changes are not mutually exclusive and can coexist.
Common Hormone Imbalances
Hormonal imbalances can occur at any stage in life. The most commonly known hormonal change for women are around 9-14 years when they begin their menses and around 50 years when they stop menses. In men, it’s andropause, a significant decrease in testosterone. Andropause traditionally begins over 60, but 35% of men over the age of 45 are now showing a shocking decrease in testosterone levels.(4)
Adult women of any age can suffer from other estrogenic issues, such as low estrogen or estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is when your estrogen is high relative to progesterone. This can occur when progesterone is too low, and not just when estrogen is too high. As with many things in the body, it’s the ratio that matters.
Thyroid disorders are common and often go undiagnosed. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, with up to 60% of those affected being unaware of their condition.(5) Hypothyroidism, when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, affects up to 5% of the population, with an estimated 5% of cases being undiagnosed.(6)
Functional Medicine Can Help
When we’re suffering, finding the root cause of a hormonal imbalance is crucial to regaining our health. Unbalanced levels of cortisol, DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, estrogen, androgens, insulin and thyroid hormones can all impact your wellbeing in ways that can be difficult to diagnose through standard tests. Some conventional medical tests often focus on generalized hormonal result ranges that can render our results as “normal”, despite not feeling normal at all. This is when taking a deeper look into what is going on can be effective.
Functional and integrative comprehensive hormone testing and evaluation focuses on the whole picture while determining a course of corrective action to help rebalance your hormones. This often includes a personalized plan for optimizing your digestion, sleep, exercise, nutrient status and detoxification pathways.
Lifestyle Practices That Promote Hormone Balance
Maximizing your potential to maintain a healthy hormonal balance is possible at any age. Hormones are responding to what we do and what we think. This is why a holistic approach is necessary to truly address the root of hormonal imbalances. The following practices act both as preventative measures and corrective ones:
- Minimize stress levels. Journaling, meditation, mindfulness, or simply finding time every day to do something you love are all great ways to help reduce stress.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Hormones work in tandem with our circadian rhythm, so getting a good night’s sleep is crucial. A cool, dark room free from distraction is imperative, as is going to bed at the same time every night. Enjoy at least one hour away from a blue light emitting device before bedtime as well.
- Reduce or eliminate highly processed foods, refined sugars, and alcohol and opt for a whole foods diet.
- Inflammation caused by repetitive poor food choices and stress can wreak havoc on our entire system. Aim for a diet rich in lean meats, fish, seafood, dairy, beans, legumes, whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Supplement with vitamins and herbs. Consider taking Vitamin D, a full spectrum probiotic or adaptogens like ashwagandha, turmeric, or chaga. Be sure to schedule a consultation with your healthcare practitioner before including any new supplementation to be sure they are right for you – we can help!
- Maintain a healthy body weight and exercise regularly. A sedentary lifestyle in conjunction with being overweight is one of the top contributors to hormone imbalances.7 Regular, moderate exercise such as going for a daily 30 minute walk can work wonders on supporting our hormonal health.
- Address gut health. Leaky gut syndrome can contribute to hormonal imbalances by allowing toxins and bacteria to pass from our intestines into our bloodstream. A functional medicine practitioner can assess, diagnose and treat gut issues.
- Minimize hormone disruptors in everyday products. Chemicals found in a variety of daily use products, including but not limited to cosmetics, plastic food storage, home cleaners and even liners of metal food cans may contribute to hormonal imbalances. Some common hormone disruptors include BPA, dioxins, and phthalates. Phytoestrogens naturally occurring in soy products can disrupt estrogen in individuals with estrogen sensitivity.8 Use Environmental Working Group, a non-profit, to determine if your personal care products are on the clean list.
Let me help you.
If you’re having a difficult time with your physical and emotional health and you know your fluctuations are anything but normal, I am here to help. As a functional medicine practitioner, together we can dive deep into your symptoms, identify and target your specific imbalances and begin to rebalance your hormones.
Hormone Balance Support
Adrenal Complex – This is a top seller. Glandular-based product designed to support overall adrenal function. May help to promote normal cortisol balance and catecholamine (dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine) production.
FemGuard + Balance – All estrogen pathways are addressed with chaste tree extract (vitex), black cohosh, chrysin, DIM, broccoli seed, and calcium-D-glucarate. Additional herbs, nutrients, vitamins and minerals round out this top female hormone product.
Thyrommune – Myo-inositol and selenium to support optimal thyroid function, which may help with auto-immune thyroid disorders.
Fx Chocolate Dream – 3mg melatonin and 100mg 5-HTP in a tasty chocolate square?? Yes, please!!
Book an appointment with me and together we can move you toward better health.
1. Hiller-Sturmhöfel S, Bartke A. The endocrine system: an overview. Alcohol Health Res World. 1998;22(3):153-64. PMID: 15706790; PMCID: PMC6761896.
2. Ali SA, Begum T, Reza F. Hormonal Influences on Cognitive Function. Malays J Med Sci. 2018 Jul;25(4):31-41. doi: 10.21315/mjms2018.25.4.3. Epub 2018 Aug 30. PMID: 30914845; PMCID: PMC6422548.
3. Payne JL. The role of estrogen in mood disorders in women. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2003 Aug;15(3):280-90. doi: 10.1080/0954026031000136893. PMID: 15276966.
4. The Endocrine Society. Testosterone Therapy in Men (https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/mens-health/testosterone-treatments)
5. American Thyroid Association. General Information. (https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/press-room/)
6. Chiovato L, Magri F, Carlé A. Hypothyroidism in Context: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going. Adv Ther. 2019 Sep;36(Suppl 2):47-58. doi: 10.1007/s12325-019-01080-8. Epub 2019 Sep 4. PMID: 31485975; PMCID: PMC6822815.
7. Geliebter A, Ochner CN, Dambkowski CL, Hashim SA. Obesity-Related Hormones and Metabolic Risk Factors: A Randomized Trial of Diet plus Either Strength or Aerobic Training versus Diet Alone in Overweight Participants. J Diabetes Obes. 2014 Jul 29;1(1):1-7. PMID: 25599089; PMCID: PMC4293637.
8. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Endocrine Disruptors. (https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm)