How Hormonal Imbalance impacts women?
Do I really need to feel like this? Should I test or not? What should I do to feel good again? How hormonal imbalance impacts women? If you struggle with hormonal imbalance symptoms, you may well ask these questions and many more, day in and day out.
Women are taught that it is normal to experience pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) or Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) to painful levels. I don’t share this view. None of us should have bitter experiences of PMS, period, or menopause. The pain usually indicates underlying issues that need looking into. Did you know that there are over 150 symptoms were identified as part of our PMS package? The most common ones are bloating, mood changes, headaches, food cravings, fluid retention, and fatigue. I want you to know you can have control over your symptoms.
Understanding the female cycle, the hormonal pathways, and how the different body systems are affected are key learning points to achieve hormonal balance. Furthermore, what is normal for one woman may not be normal for another. Two women may present with the same symptoms, yet different hormones are out of balance.
I can honestly say I love being on my period. I am happy, energised, and feeling a good release with it! It took me a while to get to this stage, but it was worth the journey.
Care to join me to master the works of hormones and understand how hormonal imbalance impact women? A resounding YES, I am hearing!
Hormones are chemical messengers transported in the blood, targeting cells to facilitate communication; as a result, the target cells are equipped with receptors. Hormonal signalling works using a lock (receptor) and key (hormone) system. This is important because hormones can only do their job where there are receptors. Light-bulb moment, yet? That’s why some parts of our bodies are safe and sound from hormonal chaos because it is a receptor free zone! Both the hormones and receptors need certain nutrients to work; hence, nutrient deficiencies are common causes of hormonal imbalance.
Hormones need regulation which is done via feedback loops. This means the hormone controls its own production. Most hormones use negative feedback mechanisms to keep the levels within a narrow range, while during positive feedback, the hormone feeds back to increase its production. Check the examples out below:
Hormones are produced by glands receiving executive orders from the hypothalamus with the help of the pituitary gland. They exert either a stimulating or inhibiting effect.
Why Cholesterol is a big deal?
Cholesterol is the precursor to steroid hormone production, such as progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen. Therefore, too low or high cholesterol levels leads to hormonal deficiency or overload.
Here is a simplified version of the steroid hormone pathways with the corresponding enzymes.
Let’s unravel how hormonal imbalance impacts women, shall we?
Firstly, What can go wrong?
- under or overproduction of hormones
- production of faulty hormones
- poor circulation
- faulty feedback process
- insufficient breaking down and elimination
- faulty receptors
An increase in prostaglandins may cause food to pass through the digestive tract too quickly and increase the electrolyte secretions resulting in diarrhoea and nausea.
Stress and weak adrenals
I don’t need to tell you how bad things can get with chronic stress and why holistic practitioners care about adrenal support so much. Cortisol is highest at around 8am, then it gradually decreases, so we wind down. It is a stress hormone and goes up regardless of whether we are in real danger – such as running from a predator – or perceived stress, such as a job interview. Therefore, the body prefers to manufacture cortisol rather than sex hormones to protect our lives in many stressful situations. In functional medicine, call this “cortisol steal”. Sadly, cortisol resistance exists, and we must take it very seriously!
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) insufficiency result in anovulatory cycles, while low progesterone levels may increase miscarriage risk. Conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis are often diagnosed as the main cause for infertility.
Depression, anxiety, and brain fog are well-known for those who struggle with thyroid dysregulation, adrenal weakness, and low progesterone levels. The endocrine system constantly talks to the nervous system to ensure homeostasis, a physiological equilibrium.
Most people only think about thyroid issues regarding weight management issues, and it can go both ways with thyroid. Let’s not forget leptin – a peptide hormone produced by fat cells – patrolling in the bloodstream and acting on the brain to regulate food intake and energy expenditure. That is not the end of it, though! Insulin, testosterone, Cortisol, Estrogen, and Ghrelin are also key players.
Having suffered from acne for over 10 years, I can proudly say I know a lot about getting that glow back on your face! Most women in my virtual clinic presented with acne due to increased dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the bad form of testosterone.
Low libido is predominant mainly amongst women between 40-55. This is because sex hormones begin to drop around this time, approaching menopause. Estrogen looks after the vagina’s tissue health. While testosterone is much needed for arousal and interest. Excessive stress leads to progesterone converting to cortisol instead of testosterone.
All of the above can be balanced with the right food, lifestyle, and supplement interventions; addressing hormonal imbalance as soon as known is necessary. The longer it is left unattended, the harder it will be to achieve homeostasis. The human body is pre-programmed to self-regulate itself by an internal feedback system that balances and stabilises our hormones and other biochemical processes. Homeostasis is health.
We hope you have enjoyed this journey to understand how hormonal imbalance impacts women.
Author: Anita Andor, nutritional therapist