Do you struggle with weight gain or weight loss resistance? Irritability or mood swings? Hot flashes or night sweats? Decreased libido or low sex drive? Are you fatigued? Are your periods changing – becoming more or less frequent, heavier or lighter? Do you notice changes to your hair or skin? These are all symptoms that could be associated with hormonal imbalance.
THE HOW AND WHY OF HORMONES
Females and males both have estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. Of course, males have higher levels of testosterone compared to females but none-the-less males need a certain amount of estrogen and females needs testosterone.
There are 3 types of estrogen. You can view them as the 3 sisters of estrogen – the beautiful one, the callous sister, and the weak sister. Estradiol is the most potent estrogen and gives rise to our female sex characteristics – beautiful hair, skin, nails and body shape as well as heart health. Estrone is the estrogen of menopause and primarily comes from conversion of testosterone in the fatty tissue and adrenal DHEA. And estriol is a weak estrogen that is primarily associated with pregnancy.
Estrogen is primarily made in the ovaries but also comes from your adrenal glands (the glands that sit on top of your kidneys) and some from conversion of testosterone to estrogen in the fatty tissue. Estrogen levels are highest mid month and decline the closer you get to menstruation. At menopause estrogen levels drop.
Symptoms of low estrogen:
- Less frequent menstrual cycles
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Hot flashes or night sweats
- Dryness of the vaginal tissues
- Mood swings
- Low libido
Symptoms of high estrogen:
- Weight gain, particularily in the mid-section
- Heavy periods
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Uterine fibroids
- Low libido
Progesterone is our relaxation hormone. It is secreted from the corpus luteum which produces the hormone progesterone that makes your uterus a healthy environment for a developing fetus. A new corpus luteum forms each time you ovulate and breaks down once you no longer need it to make progesterone i.e. every month you are not pregnant. As progesterone levels fall the women will experience her menstrual bleed.
Symptoms of low progesterone:
- Missed periods
- Infertility or a history of miscarriages
Low progesterone levels also lead to symptoms of estrogen dominance. Estrogen is proliferative causing tissue growth while progesterone is anti-prolifterative, so a lack of progesterone, with even normal estrogen levels, can lead to symptoms of estrogen dominance or high estrogen.
Testosterone is our hormone for muscle, memory, stamina, strength and libido supporting muscle and bone health as well as sexual desire. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men but it also is important for female health. Testosterone is made in ovaries and adrenal glands in women and in the leydig cells in the testes in men.
Symptoms of testosterone excess:
- Irregular periods
- Male-pattern hair loss
- Deeper voice
- Increased muscle mass
Women may also suffer with symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome – multiple cysts on the ovaries – that leads to symptoms similar to testosterone excess.
Symptoms of low testosterone:
- Decreased libido
- Decreased muscle mass
CAUSES OF HORMONAL IMBALANCE
When our hormones are not in balance, we can have a wide variety of symptoms as you can see. Hormones, however, are a downstream symptom. Hormones being “out of whack” is a sign that something else in the body is “out of whack.”
Increased inflammation from poor diet, gut dysbiosis, stress, poor sleep, and toxins causes the body to not produce hormones the way it naturally should or “steal” hormones to help other processes in the body work better. This is known as the cortisol steal.
Increased stress can be from external (environmental and emotional) factors as well as internal factors like toxins, parasites/bacterial/or fungal pathogens, viruses, and diet will alter our hormone pathways.
HOW TO FIX HORMONE IMBALANCE
As stated earlier, hormonal imbalance is downstream effect meaning something else in the body is off. Finding and treating imbalance, overloads, and deficiencies is the best way to treat hormonal imbalance to set your body up for long term health and happiness.
Things you can do at home:
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
- Make sure you are having a daily bowel movement. If you struggle with constipation or diarrhea, see a functional practitioner to address this issue.
- Clean up your environment! Use toxin free cleaning and personal care products.
- Eat organic, grass-fed, pasture raised animal products
- Get good quality sleep!
- Practice strategies to reduce stress
Balancing hormones is a very complex and personalized process, so it is important to work with a practitioner who has experience treating hormonal imbalance. If you or someone you know may be struggling with mold toxicity schedule a FREE consult here.