There are several surprising causes of hormonal imbalance in women, ranging from excessive stress to poor gut health.
Hormones are molecules generated by endocrine glands that play a vital role in the human body by regulating several activities. A hormonal imbalance occurs when the body produces too much or too little hormone. Both men and women can be affected by hormonal imbalance. Women may also have oestrogen and progesterone abnormalities, while males may have testosterone and other hormone imbalances. Most women have hormone imbalances, while not all abnormalities cause significant symptoms.
What exactly are hormones, and what causes the hormonal imbalance?
Hormones are highly crucial chemical messengers in our bodies that coordinate the activity of many organs. Hormones control everything from sleep patterns to weight gain and loss, anxiety, energy levels, sex drive, and period regularity. “Hormones are produced in various endocrine glands such as the thyroid gland, pancreas, pituitary gland in the brain, ovaries, testes, and adrenals just above our kidneys. Five hormones regulate the reproductive system: oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone. All of these hormones are controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain.
The presence of these hormones in the body has a certain rhythm and time. Even modest changes in the number of these hormones might lead the system to spiral out of control,” says Dr Vaishali Chaudhary, Senior Fertility Expert at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals in Pune.
Typical signs of hormone imbalance
Anxiety, difficulties losing weight, headaches and migraines, sleeplessness, skin and hair changes, low sex drive, muscular weakness, joint problems, puffiness of the face, and digestive disorders are all symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
Women’s hormonal imbalance causes
Hormonal imbalance is common in women throughout adolescence, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, peri-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause. Some lifestyle factors, such as stress, weight, and intestinal health, can also contribute to hormone imbalance in women. Dr Chaudhary discusses the most prevalent reasons for female hormone imbalance.
Stress is our body’s inescapable reaction to challenging events. Everyone experiences stress, but if the stressor scenario persists for an extended period, it can cause anxiety, weight gain, sleeplessness, chronic physical pains, and loss of confidence. The brain releases CRF, a hormone, into circulation when stressed.
CRF gets to the pituitary gland through blood arteries. CRF induces the production of another hormone, ACTH, in this case. ACTH enters the adrenal glands and stimulates the release of other hormones, the most significant of which is cortisol. Cortisol aids with stress management. Cortisol inhibits the release of CRF and ACTH during mild stress. The cycle continues if the stress is severe. Cortisol, sometimes known as the stress hormone, can cause weight gain.
There is a clear link between an unhealthy gut and hormonal imbalance. The ‘gut’ is essentially the whole digestive tract, from your mouth to your colon, and it contains 10-100 trillion symbiotic microbial cells. These bacteria are known as the gut microbiome.
These beneficial microorganisms serve a critical function in oestrogen control.
Inadequate oestrogen control can result in conditions such as PCOS and breast cancer. When the stomach is out of balance, the body may have difficulty absorbing nutrition, storing fat, and regulating blood sugar. An imbalance in the gut microbiota may be a trigger for the development of immunological disorders such as psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. Poor gut health can cause gas, bloating, headaches, sleeplessness, and weight gain.
Hormone excesses or deficiencies can contribute to obesity, while obesity can lead to hormonal imbalance. Our hunger, metabolism (the rate at which our body consumes kilojoules for energy), and body fat are all influenced by the hormones leptin and insulin, as well as sex hormones and growth hormones.
Insulin signals are irregular in obese people, and tissues fail to manage glucose levels. This can result in type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
“How hormonal imbalance affects the reproductive system of women”
A chronic increase in oestrogen and a reduction in progesterone can result in PCOS, delayed menstruation, weight gain, acne, infertility, and depression. The anti-mullerian hormone, AMH, is another crucial hormone to test in women who are attempting to conceive. This hormone provides a good indication of a woman’s reproductive potential. A low AMH level suggests fewer chances of conception since a woman’s eggs are less available. Menstrual periods frequently grow shorter, and women may have decreased flow.
Such symptoms should be investigated to rule out low AMH, which can cause early menopause. “Talking to a fertility professional can help the lady choose the best treatment options,” adds Dr Chaudhary.
- Enhance intestinal health: Incorporate probiotics in your diet by eating yoghurt, buttermilk, kanji, kimchi, idli, dosa, paneer, and soy milk.
- Consume 2 litres of water every day.
- Avoid processed foods and sweets.
- Choose plant-based foods and a fibre-rich diet.
- Workout regularly: Exercising daily can enhance bowel movements and aid in the removal of toxins. This aids in the maintenance of a healthy weight and basal metabolic rate.
- Avoid drinking and quit smoking.
- Enough sleep ensures that hormones function properly.
- To reduce stress, do mindful meditation.
- Only use antibiotics when necessary. Antibiotics might disrupt the equilibrium of your gut flora. Participate in creative activities and get some fresh air.