Hormones are the chemicals that our body contains. These hormones act as a messenger system in your body that regulates all the processes, including the menstrual cycle. Your systems run smoothly when your hormones are in balance. An imbalance can have a negative impact on a woman’s health. An imbalance is caused if there is too much or too little of one or more hormones. Even minor hormonal imbalances can have a significant impact on the menstrual cycle.
Understanding the Hormones of Sex
Your reproductive organs, like testicles and ovaries, release sex hormones, which develop during puberty. They will then manage your reproductive functions for the rest of your life. These hormones are crucial for sexual life, reproduction, and breastfeeding.
A male and a female produce different types of sex hormones. The females have estrogen and progesterone as their sexual hormones. The male sex hormone is called testosterone. Males and females basically have all three sex hormones, but in different amounts.
These hormones keep fluctuating within your body throughout your life. The dominant testosterone hormone in a male is at its peak in the morning and gradually decreases through the day. A woman experiences much more severe fluctuations in the sex hormones, especially during menstruation and pregnancy.
Hormonal changes during the period cycle
Estrogen and progesterone levels gradually rise after your period cycle is completed. Estrogens rise faster, and it peaks around your mid-monthly cycle—to release an egg. This is called ovulation, and it lasts for about a day or two. When the ovulation process is complete, estrogen levels begin to fall. The process is reversed for the progesterone hormone. It continues to rise post-ovulation, enabling the womb to fertilize your egg and help you conceive.
If your egg doesn’t fertilize and you don’t conceive, the progesterone meets the estrogen, and they both rapidly decline. This sudden fall in hormones contracts the uterus and the womb lining to start another cycle of menstruation.
It all sounds very lucid and convenient, but hormonal imbalance symptoms in females are so common! This hampers a woman’s health and her day-to-day activities, especially during her period cycle. Premenstrual syndrome is seen in many women, and they struggle with their routine activities.
Hormonal imbalance symptoms in females
Hormones keep fluctuating during the monthly cycle. Its levels are different during the below-listed conditions.
During the above phases, one or more hormones become dominant, and the ideal ratio is not maintained. Many women have elevated levels of either oestrogen or progesterone at times. Depending upon the type of hormone and its dominance ratio, a woman’s health reflects different health issues.
We previously learned that estrogen peaks in the middle of your menstrual cycle. This triggers ovulation, and an egg is released, which can either fertilize or not. This also depends on your desire to get pregnant. Estrogen levels fall after ovulation, and progesterone takes over. However, this process isn’t that simple for all women. If the estrogen ratio dominates in the first half of your cycle, ovulation occurs earlier than normal, which in turn gives you menses earlier than a normal monthly cycle.
Below are the symptoms of estrogen dominance. Women who experience PMS go through these symptoms.
- Mood swings
- Sore breasts
- Fluid retention
- Painful periods
- Heavy bleeding
As we studied above, progesterone comes into play post-ovulation. If your egg is fertilized, your body will require more progesterone to support the growing fetus. High levels of progesterone prepare your womb. The lining of your womb increases as it readies itself to successfully implant the egg and keep the embryo safe for nine months. However, if your egg doesn’t fertilize, or you don’t want to have a baby, the progesterone aborts the non-pregnancy and starts declining post-ovulation.
When progesterone levels do not naturally decline and remain high despite the absence of pregnancy, it has a negative impact on a woman’s health. In the case of low estrogen, progesterone rises even higher than normal. This makes you progesterone dominant. Below are a few symptoms of progesterone imbalance:
- Mood swings
- Highly sensitive
- Low self-esteem
Testosterone imbalance is not very common. Below are a few symptoms of high testosterone.
- Too much facial and body hair
- High insulin production
- Weight gain
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Hormone balance therapy
So if you are experiencing any of the above health issues and your hormones have gone for a toss, you can get them treated and bounce back to normal. We will study the lifestyle changes and hormone therapies that can level your hormones. But it is best to see a doctor if your symptoms of hormonal imbalance are very severe. Let us understand the treatment.
A. Hormone treatment
Hormone therapy regulates your menstrual cycle. The doctor will monitor your hormone levels and recommend the best treatment for you. The following are ways to treat your hormones:
- Oral contraceptive
- Birth control patch
- Vaginal ring
- Birth control shot
- Intrauterine device
If you have more male sex hormones like testosterone, then anti-androgens block their effects. At times, metformin, which is a diabetes medicine, helps to decrease androgen levels and restart ovulation.
If you have a thyroid disorder that is causing hypothyroidism due to a hormone imbalance, hormone medication will help your body maintain its hormone levels.
Herbal remedies can gently sustain your hormone levels, although they can’t be consumed with the contraceptive pill.
High estrogen symptoms, such as painful and heavy periods, are often well managed by the herb Agnus castus. Agnus castus gently rebalances and supports your progesterone levels.
Fermented soy isoflavones aid in supporting your estrogen levels. Low estrogen in comparison to progesterone is a common issue that women face during menopause. Even pre-menstrual women may experience a similar hormonal imbalance.
B. Lifestyle changes
Changes in your lifestyle resulting in healthy food, regular exercise, a regular sleep routine, etc. help a great deal in regularising your hormones. Women with PCOS have to lose weight. PCOS can also affect your insulin production and thereby adversely affect your hormone levels. This can be treated with low-fat, fiber-rich carbs and healthy protein meals. Yoga and meditation, along with working out, show great results. If you’re on supplements or medication, consult your doctor, as sometimes, it can counter-affect your hormones. Natural supplements can also unfavorably affect hormonal balance.
Combining herbal remedies with a healthy diet and lifestyle can really transform you as a person.
Hormone levels do not remain static; they fluctuate with age. But it is important that you be aware of the symptoms that your body shows due to imbalance. Treatments differ depending on the cause of the imbalance, the type of dominant hormone, and the woman’s overall health. Balancing hormones is a long-term treatment. More frequently, a woman needs hormone-balancing treatment postpartum and during perimenopause.