As a society, we are often overworked and overstressed—both of which can immensely impact our hormones. The intricate balance of hormone production in the body is so complex, and it is kept in balance by a feedback system. Though hormones have a profound impact on body functions, you may not realize this until they fall out of balance and cause problems that are anything but subtle!
Take a look at the following 9 symptoms. If you regularly experience one or more of these, you may want to talk to your healthcare practitioner about getting your hormone levels tested.
1. You are tired all the time
Hormonal imbalances can zap your energy and leave you feeling drained. Almost all hormones play a role when it comes to your energy level. However, this is such a general symptom that there are lots of possible causative factors—consequently, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause without running a few tests. Also, keep in mind that when your hormones are out of balance, your body must work even harder to accomplish basic tasks, which in turn make it feel even more rundown.
2. Your hair has changed
Whether your hair has become thinner, coarser, or started growing excessively in areas other than the head, it is usually due to a hormonal imbalance. Blame it on estrogen, insulin, testosterone, and the thyroid gland. More specifically, estrogen, thyroid hormones, and insulin can lead to thinning hair and female pattern baldness, while testosterone can cause hair growth on the face but hair loss on the head.
3. Your skin is breaking out
If your skin flares up in a cyclical pattern during certain phases of the menstrual cycle, then it is most likely due to a hormonal issue. In addition, if your pimples are along the jawline, this is also likely due to the sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone), as well as cortisol. Testosterone is usually the culprit, as it increases sebum and oil production.
4. Your mood is all over the map
This is no secret—hormones can cause erratic moods and be triggered by over-burdened adrenals, an imbalance in sex hormones, or problems with thyroid hormone production. Anxiety, depression, irritability, and mood swings are all common due to an imbalance and are often linked to major hormonal transition times for women (such as pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause).
5. You have unexplained weight gain or weight loss
Hormones play a major role in regulating metabolism. The inability to lose weight (especially around the belly) is a symptom that your cortisol levels may be high due to prolonged periods of stress. Thyroid hormone is also important, as when it is elevated, you might find yourself losing weight unintentionally. Meanwhile, when it is decreased, you might gain weight unexpectedly.
6. You experience increased food cravings
Yet again, this can be due to high levels of cortisol. Excess cortisol can make you crave sweets and carbs. Let’s not forget testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone too. Anyone familiar with the premenstrual syndrome can attest to intense food cravings caused by hormonal changes! Ghrelin is also worth mentioning here—it is the “hunger hormone” that triggers appetite and cravings when elevated.
7. You are too warm, too cold, or sweat excessively
An overactive thyroid gland can cause you to feel too warm, whereas an underactive thyroid gland can leave you to feel too cold. This is because the thyroid hormone regulates metabolism and influences the dilation and constriction of blood vessels, in turn affecting how much heat you release from your body.
8. Your sex drive is low or nonexistent
A low sex drive is typically a sign of testosterone deficiency, but can also be due to estrogen deficiency. Testosterone increases libido, while estrogen increases the blood flow to the genitals (resulting in increased arousal). However, don’t forget that libido can be easily affected by many non-hormonal causes such as anxiety, stress, and general illnesses or medications—keep those in mind as well!
9. You suffer from insomnia or have irregular sleep patterns
Finally, sleeping problems can be a sign of estrogen deficiency, which is why insomnia typically presents during female hormonal transition times such as menopause. Disruptions of thyroid hormone, melatonin, testosterone, cortisol, and even growth hormones can also all affect sleep. This is a self-perpetuating process because lack of sleep can in and of itself disrupt your hormonal balance.