Hormones play a vital role in several functions in a woman’s body. They affect everything from fertility to mood to metabolism. But hormone levels do not always stay steady. They can decline and become out of balance. Because hormones are so important to various bodily functions, even a small decline can lead to problems.
When hormones decline, it can lead to a variety of symptoms including:
- Hot flashes
- Weight gain
- Difficulty sleeping
- Mood changes
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Dry skin
- Trouble concentrating
Several things can lead to a decline or imbalance in hormone levels in women. In some cases, determining the cause of an imbalance can help correct the problem. Below are some of the most common causes of a hormonal decline or imbalance.
7 Causes of Hormonal Imbalance in Women
As a woman ages, her hormone levels may naturally decline. During the menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone are the two main hormones that are produced. As a woman approaches menopause, her hormone levels fluctuate and gradually decline. In fact, hormone levels can start to decline several years before menopause is reached.
After menopause, estrogen and progesterone decline dramatically. The decline in both hormones is responsible for many of the common symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, weight gain, and trouble sleeping.
Several studies have indicated that a decrease in estrogen during menopause also increases visceral fat. Visceral fat is especially dangerous because it is fat that surrounds your vital organs. One study that involved 156 healthy women indicated that as women aged, they had an increase in subcutaneous fat, but after menopause visceral fat increased. (1)
Exercising is good for your body and mind. But it is possible to get too much of a good thing when it comes to working out. Too much vigorous exercise can cause a reduction in hormones, especially estrogen.
When you exercise vigorously on a regular basis, your body uses the energy for the intense physical activity. Non-essential processes, such as bone building and reproduction, start to shut down. What may happen is the body produces fewer hormones, such as estrogen. The declining hormone levels can lead to osteoporosis, infertility, and hot flashes.
3. Poor diet
A poor diet can lead to an imbalance in hormone levels. For example, eating too many foods high in simple carbohydrates and sugar can raise cortisol levels in the body. High cortisol levels may then have an effect on the amount of progesterone produced.
Reducing calories too much can also cause a decline in hormones. If you severely restrict calories, hormone levels start to decrease. One study indicated that reducing calories by 470 a day compared to baseline calories needs for three months was enough to cause a hormonal imbalance in women and disturb the menstrual cycle. (2)
Chemotherapy can be lifesaving. But while the drug kills cancer cells, it may also have an effect on other cells in the body. Depending upon the chemo administered, it can cause the ovaries to shut down and stop producing hormones, which leads to medical menopause. Medical menopause causes the same symptoms as natural menopause, but the symptoms come on suddenly.
A hysterectomy involves removal of the uterus. It may be recommended to treat a variety of issues, such as fibroids, uterine prolapse, and heavy menstrual bleeding. In some cases, the ovaries may also be removed. The ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone. If the ovaries are also removed, it causes surgical menopause. However, even if the ovaries are left in, the blood supply to them has been compromised, affecting how well they function. Instead of the natural transition, surgical menopause puts a woman into sudden menopause.
The decrease in hormones associated with surgical menopause can lead to a variety of symptoms. One study indicated that early menopause before age 50, whether surgical or natural, was associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. (3)
Xenoestrogens are chemicals that are found in everyday items, such as insecticides, products made of plastic, make-up, and even certain foods. Examples of xenoestrogens include BHA food preservative, parabens, and benzophenone, which is found in sunscreen. Xenoestrogens can disrupt the endocrine system and have an estrogen-like effect.
According to research, xenoestrogens can mimic parts of the estrogen compound and may interfere with the actions of natural estrogen. When xenoestrogens build up in the body, they can increase the level of estrogen leading to estrogen dominance, a condition in which there is an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. This could also be called a progesterone deficiency. (4)
7. Environmental ExposureToxic chemicals in our environment are called endocrine disruptors because they interfere with and affect our hormone balance. The endocrine system produces and manages our hormones. These chemicals, that come from pollution, pesticides, paint fumes, household cleaners, car exhaust and chemicals in products and foods, can disrupt hormone balance in numerous ways:
- Imitate hormones
- Increase production of hormones
- Decrease production of hormones
- Turn one hormone into another
- Interfere with hormone signaling
- Tell cells to die prematurely
- Compete with essential nutrients
- Bind to hormones
- Accumulate in organs that produce hormones
The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org) is a great resource for information about toxins in our food, environment, cosmetics and more. Take a look at their list of twelve hormone-altering chemicals and how to avoid them here: Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors.
Natural Solution for Hormonal Imbalance
Declining hormone levels can lead to problems that affect a woman’s well-being and quality of life. Fortunately, there are natural solutions that can help. Considering the following natural solutions:
- Take bioidentical hormones: Bioidentical hormones are a safe and natural way to replace the hormones your body is missing. They differ from traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that involves synthetic hormones. Bioidentical hormones are molecularly identical to the hormones your body makes. Plus, bioidentical hormones are designed for each individual and not a one size fits all dose. They are a great way to restore optimal hormone levels and ease symptoms of an imbalance.
- Eat a healthy diet: A natural approach to hormonal imbalance also should include a healthy eating plan. Avoid processed foods that may contain chemicals, such as preservatives and food dyes that can affect hormones. Eat a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, lean protein, and healthy fats. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated.
- Get regular exercise: While excessive exercise can interfere with hormone levels, too little can also lead to problems. Being sedentary is associated with a higher risk of obesity, which can affect estrogen levels. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise about four days a week.
- Practice good sleep habits: Getting enough sleep is vital to keep hormone levels balanced. Sleep needs vary, but most adults need about seven or eight hours of sleep a night. Keep a consistent bedtime each night. Try to sleep in a dark, quiet room with a temperature that is comfortable for you. Limit screen time since the light from electronic devices can trick your brain into thinking it is daytime.
- Learn stress reduction: Chronic stress can alter hormone production resulting in an imbalance. Find healthy ways to deal with stress such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises.
We Can Help
Are you having symptoms of hormonal imbalance? Take our symptom checker to find out what’s going on.
We believe that you deserve a doctor and a team of professionals to coach you onto a path of health and wellness, naturally, so that you can enjoy a better quality of life without the use of pharmaceutical drugs.
Call a Wellness Consultant for a complimentary wellness consultation at 281-698-8698. It would be our privilege to serve you and help you get your health and your life back.
- Increased visceral fat and decreased energy expenditure during the menopausal transition
- Magnitude of daily energy deficit predicts frequency but not severity of menstrual disturbances associated with exercise and caloric restriction
- Surgical menopause and cardiovascular risks
- Xenoestrogens: mechanisms of action and some detection studies