We’re passionate about empowering people to listen to their body and own their menstrual health. So, in this post, we’re giving you the lowdown on hormonal imbalances.
Your hormones can naturally fluctuate during different stages of your menstrual cycle. But, a lot of people don’t realise they have a hormonal imbalance. It’s easier to accept the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, such as mood swings, as being a part of ‘that time of the month’. Read on to discover the signs of hormonal imbalances, the causes and what you can do to help maintain hormonal balance.
Admittedly, when I first heard the words ‘hormonal imbalance’, I thought it wasn’t something I experienced. But the truth is, so many of us can be experiencing hormonal imbalances without even realising it.
Have you ever got your period and said to yourself: “I NEED chocolate”? Or you’ve felt too exhausted to do anything other than lay on the sofa? (Side note: don’t punish yourself for taking time out to rest. It can be easy to believe we have to keep going all the time. But you should never be hard on yourself if you feel tired or unmotivated!) Truth is, these feelings could be the result of a hormonal imbalance.
Why hormonal balance is important
Registered nutritional therapist, Angelique Panagos, describes how “our hormones affect everything from our menstrual cycle (and all the challenges that may come with it, like heavy bleeding, cravings and irritability) to health issues.” You can see how working with our hormones to keep them balanced will lead to us feeling more positive and in-check. The symptoms that come with a hormonal imbalance are usually the bodies way of telling you something is off. Happy hormones = happier periods (yay!).
Sometimes when you experience symptoms such as tiredness or overpowering cravings before your period, it’s easier to look for a short-term fix. This might be a caffeine-based drink or a sugary snack. These can tip the delicate hormonal balance leading to a vicious cycle effect (you disrupt hormones and experience the same symptoms as a result). Working to tackle the underlying cause is a long-term fix and a way to keep your hormones balanced.
Signs/symptoms of hormonal imbalances
A hormonal imbalance can present itself in many ways. You may experience these symptoms some months or every month. Some of the symptoms of a hormonal imbalance include:
– Skin breakouts
– Weight gain
– Heavy, painful or irregular periods
– Low sex drive
– Low mood
– Tender breasts
– Lack of motivation
– Spotting between periods
Causes of hormonal imbalances
So, what causes hormonal imbalances? There are 6 main hormones that all work in synergy. These are Insulin, Progesterone, Testosterone, Oestrogen, Cortisol and Thyroid. There are various factors that can tip the delicate balance of these hormones. Here are some of the main ones:
One of the biggest causes of hormonal imbalances is stress. The body can either make cortisol (a stress hormone) or progesterone (a pregnancy/period hormone). The body tends to favour the production of cortisol over progesterone. But, too much cortisol unbalances our hormones. This leads to symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain.
Expert nutritional therapist Angelique Panagos describes how sugary foods cause a spike in our insulin levels, which leads to our bodies creating more testosterone. Unbalanced testosterone levels cause symptoms such as oily skin, acne, fatigue and low sex drive to name a few.
A lot of people think being healthy means no fats. But, good fats are essential for our bodies to produce enough oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Without these hormones, we lack energy, confidence and feel lethargic. Consuming enough fats can help boost our energy and help us beat that ‘period slump’.
This is an area that needs more research but one of the main environmental toxins is plastics. Unfortunately, plastic is quite hard to avoid, but it contributes to hormone imbalances. There are chemicals in plastics (such as phthalates) that alter levels of testosterone and block the production of oestrogen. We encounter these hormone disruptors each time we drink from plastic bottles and heat up plastic Tupperware. So, it’s super important to seek glass or BPA free alternatives.
There are also huge problems when it comes to our period care, with it being revealed that mainstream pads contain the equivalent of four plastic carrier bags. These plastic-ridden products are coming into direct contact with our body and being absorbed straight into the bloodstream. This can cause fertility issues, fatigue, mood swings and low mood to name a few.
Finding a solution
If you are feeling a bit lost after reading this, fear not. It is possible (and easy) to free yourself from any hormonal turmoil. Angelique Panagos’ book ‘The Balance Plan’ works on helping you avoid short-term fixes and tackle the underlying issues to keep your hormones balanced. Below are a few of our other top tips to keep your hormones balanced:
- Plan your meals ahead
- Eat meals regularly to avoid drops in your blood-sugar levels
- You don’t have to eat well 24/7, but sticking to the ‘80/20’ rule can help you strike a balance
- It’s easy to say to someone “don’t stress”. You can’t control situations, but you can control your reaction. Take a step back and ask yourself if it’s going to matter in a few days and if it’s worth the stress
- Switch to BPA free products and try to cut down on plastic use as much as possible
- Fuel your body with nutritional foods
- Filter your water
- Switch to period care with less plastic and natural ingredients
We hope this blog inspires you to tune into your hormones and listen to what they are telling your body. Do you have any top tips for keeping your hormones balanced? We’d love to hear them! Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @totmorganic.