Awareness is now growing around hormone imbalance and its influences on many different areas of health – from mood and energy levels to maintaining a healthy weight. Most people want a quick fix to tackle the often-distressing symptoms of disrupted hormone levels – but with so many different factors influencing this delicate balance a holistic, long-term approach is key.
Signs and symptoms of hormone imbalance in women
Symptoms of hormone imbalance can be subtle initially, worsening gradually over time. Key signs of imbalanced hormones include:
*Acne and persistent breakouts
*Abnormally heavy or irregular periods on a long-term basis
*Excessive hair growth on the body/face
Common causes of female hormone imbalance
Female hormones naturally fluctuate – both on a monthly basis during our cycle and throughout our lives. Events such as pregnancy and menopause and illnesses including PCOS and endometriosis can all have an impact on our hormone levels on a short- and long-term basis. But there are also external factors to consider, including:
Diets today look very different compared with those of our ancestors. A typical human diet once consisted of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and small amounts of animal products. Now many people’s diets contain large amounts of refined sugars, processed meat and dairy – all of which can wreak havoc on our hormones. Sticking to a natural, wholefood diet and ensuring a consistent balance of protein, slow-release carbohydrates and lots of fruits and vegetables is key if you’re looking to support healthier hormones. Upping intake of certain foods such as nuts and seeds and green vegetables has even been shown to actively reduce excess estrogen.
Sedentary lifestyles are more common now – with exercise becoming something we need to make time for instead of being an integral part of our daily routine. But being overweight, having a higher percentage of body fat (or not moving enough on a regular basis) can have a significant impact on our hormones. Regular intensive exercise has been shown to manage estrogen levels and reduce excess estrogen, as well as reducing stress hormones which can throw other hormones off-balance.
Sadly stress is very much a part of daily life for most of us, with increasing pressures and demands and an expectation to be constantly available weighing heavy. Juggling family, work and taking care of our health can prove incredibly difficult,
But tackling chronic stress should be a priority for anyone struggling with hormone imbalance – as it has a major influence on the d. When we are frequently stressed, our adrenal glands continue to create and release a hormone called cortisol, which is designed to fuel our ‘fight or flight’ response when faced with danger.
Over time, consistently high cortisol levels can begin to interfere with levels of estrogen and testosterone, causing noticeable symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
Stress management is very personal, so it’s important to find techniques and build a strategy that works well for you. This could include meditation, yoga, counselling, breathwork, journaling and getting out in nature more, as well as practical measures such as reducing your workload or daily to-do list. If you’ve suffered with chronic stress for some time or suspect there is an underlying issue, speak to your doctor or find a trusted therapist who can support you further.
Exposure to EDCs
EDCs (short for Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals) can be found in almost everything we come into contact with on a daily basis – from clothing and skincare products to food containers, cleaning fluids and invisible pollution. There are many different chemicals which can affect our hormonal balance – including phthalates, sulphates, bisphenol-A (BPA) and pesticides.
The first step to reducing your exposure to EDCs is to evaluate where you are coming into contact with them on a daily basis and removing whatever is within your control. This could include swapping plastic containers to BPA free or glass alternatives, buying organic food, avoiding drinking from plastic bottles or replacing your skincare products with a cleaner brand.
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