Hormones are chemical messengers that help our body’s organs, tissues and glands communicate with each other. In a perfect world, our body would be able to keep the levels of hormones balanced all the time. However, there are a variety of things such as emotional stress, environmental changes (ex: air quality, personal care products, etc), inflammation and diet that can affect our hormone levels. When one hormone is thrown off, it can have a chain reaction and affect other hormones and organs in the body. If you suffer from any of the five symptoms below, a hormone imbalance may be the cause of your concerns.
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You’re always tired – fatigue is one of the most common complaints I see in my practice. It can range anywhere from energy crashing at certain time so the day to consistent fatigue all day long. Although it can be linked to nutrient deficiencies, often times, persistent fatigue is related to adrenal or thyroid imbalances.
You’re constantly gaining weight or having difficulty losing weight – hormones ultimately control our metabolism. Therefore, when our hormones are out of balance, we may not see the results we expect by addressing diet and exercise alone. If you’re having trouble losing weight or feel your are continually gaining weight, it is worth investigating insulin, cortisol, thyroid hormones and estrogen levels to see if a hormone imbalance is at the root of your difficulties.
You’ve noticed changes to your menstrual cycle – if you suffer from changes to the frequency/length of your cycle or PMS symptoms such as cramping, mood changes, spotting or heavy periods, chances are your estrogen-progesterone ratio may be off. External hormone changes such as recently stopping the birth control pill can cause your PMS symptoms to change as well.
Your quality of sleep has decreased – if you’ve noticed changes to your sleep such as difficulty falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night or not feeling refreshed in the morning, it could be a sign that your hormones are off. Cortisol, melatonin, or progesterone levels may be responsible for your concerns and re-balancing these hormones may help you get a better quality sleep.
You’ve noticed changes to your mood or concentration – hormones can play a role in brain function. Some hormones can be stimulating while others can help to calm your body. If you have noticed increased anxiety or difficulty concentrating/focusing, your thyroid, cortisol or progesterone levels may be out of balance.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of signs that your hormones are out of whack, if you’re suffering from any of the above, it is worth further investigating into the cause. A naturopathic doctor can help identify any hormone imbalances and develop an individualized treatment plan to help rebalance your hormones and improve your health.