Hormonal imbalance is an umbrella term for various physical and psychological disturbances caused due to undesirable changes in the blood levels of hormones. Naturally occurring hormonal fluctuations are experienced every month by women. While these fluctuations do not affect their health, sometimes the hormonal levels are abnormally high or low. These changes may take a toll on women’s health in a number of ways. Causes of hormonal imbalance and hormonal imbalance symptoms are the most important factors to be considered while formulating a treatment plan.
What Causes Hormonal Imbalance?
Estrogen and Progesterone are the two hormones that govern the functioning of the female reproductive tract. These hormones are responsible for regulating and managing pregnancy, the monthly menstrual cycle and other functions related to these two events. Undesirable changes in the levels of estrogen or progesterone can affect the functioning of various systems of a woman’s physiology. Some of the common causes of hormonal imbalance are:
1. Ovarian Disorders
Ovaries are responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones which control female physiology. Health conditions like PCOS, premature ovarian failure, ovarian cancer disturb the levels of these hormones causing symptoms of imbalance.
2. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
HRT is a mainstream way of treating several hormonal disorders. Artificially synthesized estrogen and progesterone in the form of injections and tablets are administered during treatment. While it is a highly effective treatment method, excessive use of artificial hormones may cause hormonal imbalance symptoms in females.
3. Mental Stress
Everyone has to face the stress that comes with daily routine, duties and responsibilities. When this stress gets the better of us, it may reflect in the form of various health conditions. Hormonal imbalance may result due to the inability to cope with mental stress.
4. Physical Trauma
Damage to the ovaries due to accidental injury, during a surgical procedure, due to exposure to harmful radiation may affect their physiology. This may lead to abnormal levels of estrogen and progesterone causing hormonal imbalance symptoms in females.
Other factors like genetic disposition, lifestyle, dietary habits also contribute to the development of hormonal imbalance. Determining the root cause of hormonal imbalance is essential to decide the prognosis and treatment method which will work best for each individual case.
Signs That You Are Having Hormonal Imbalance
There are three ways of diagnosing any health disorder; viz. Symptoms experienced by patients, signs determined by a doctor during a medical examination, diagnostic scans and tests.
1. Menstrual Irregularities
Delayed or early onset of menses, irregularities in menstrual bleeding, increase in the intensity of symptoms of PMS are often experienced by women having a hormonal imbalance.
2. Difficulty In Conceiving
Couples may experience difficulty or inability to conceive despite no obvious health issue in either of the partners. There may be other hormonal imbalance symptoms related to fertility or the women may be completely asymptomatic.
3. Weight Changes
Women with hormonal imbalance often experience fluctuations in their weight. Rapid weight gain not responding to exercise or a healthy diet may often be observed.
4. Changes In Appearance
Thickening and discolouration of the skin, the eruption of acne, excessive facial hair growth may be observed in women suffering from hormonal imbalance. These changes in the levels of natural steroids in the blood.
5. Deterioration Of Sexual Health
Loss of libido is a common presenting symptom of hormonal imbalance. In addition to this, women may experience pain in the vagina during sexual intercourse. This occurs due to vaginal dryness resulting due to reduced levels of estrogen.
6. Miscellaneous Disturbances
Systemic disturbances like indigestion, acidity, joint pains, skin disorders may recur with varying frequency in women who are experiencing hormonal imbalance.
Every individual has a unique constitution and may experience other signs of hormonal imbalance as well. Consulting with a gynaecologist at the earliest will help to curb the symptoms and prevent further complications.
Diagnostic Scans And Tests
Diagnostic procedures like blood test, sonography, tissue biopsy help to confirm the presence of a particular health condition. Some of the important diagnostic measures to determine hormonal imbalance are described below:
1. Blood Tests
Blood tests to determine the levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and various other hormones are performed in suspected cases of hormonal imbalance. Patients are advised to consult with a pathologist to understand the various restrictions to be followed before undergoing the tests.
2. Radiology Scans
Sonography is the best way to assess the development of cysts, tumours, inflammation anywhere in the female reproductive tract. These changes could be directly related to hormonal imbalance.
These tests along with other diagnostic procedures like tissue biopsy and other radiology scans may be advised to detect hormonal imbalance. A valid medical prescription is mandatory to undergo these tests.
Hormonal imbalance requires timely treatment to prevent the development of further health complications. While medical and surgical modes are the most effective options for the treatment of hormonal imbalance, there are several natural ways as well to manage the condition.
Natural Methods To Treat Hormonal Imbalance
Natural treatment options often complement the mainstream treatment method being used to treat any health condition. There are several safe and effective methods that are considered to be a good natural treatment for hormonal imbalance.
1. Dietary Restrictions
Cutting down on complex carbohydrates, saturated fats and red meat help in cutting down body fat. Freshly cooked homemade food is highly preferred over outside food as it is more nutritious and includes freshly resourced ingredients. Foods that cause hormonal imbalance include saturated fats, artificial agents, harmful preservatives and more.
2. Nutritional Intake
Increased intake of fruits, vegetables, proteins, nuts helps in balancing the nutritional requirements of the body. Vitamins and calcium help in reducing digestive symptoms and joint pains associated with hormonal imbalance.
3. Regular Exercise
There are various yoga asanas that stimulate the release of hormones that help to regulate levels of estrogen and progesterone. Yoga and other exercises like aerobics, jogging, swimming will help to reduce excess body fat and help in weight management.
4. Lifestyle Modification
Minor changes in daily habits go a long way in improving overall health. Regulating dietary habits, sleep cycle, work schedules, striking work-life balance and other similar changes help to reduce mental stress. This has a beneficial effect on improving hormonal levels.
Reflexology is an alternate therapy that involves stimulating specific pressure points over the hands, feet and ears. Adequate pressure is applied over these points with the fingertips to stimulate these points. It helps in regulating hormonal levels in the blood. This therapy does not involve the use of any medicines.
These methods, though highly effective, can rarely be a suitable replacement to mainstream treatment for hormonal imbalance. It is advisable to consider their utility only if they have been suggested by a qualified gynaecologist or physician. Natural treatment options are most often used in conjunction with medical or surgical treatment methods.
When To Consult With A Doctor?
Home remedies, natural methods of treatment and symptomatic treatment offer relief only up to a certain extent in curbing the effects of hormonal imbalance. Unless the root cause is addressed, it will continue to have ill effects on health.
It is the best option to consult with a doctor in case of any of the following scenarios:
- Health disturbances related or unrelated to the female reproductive tract recur frequently despite medical treatment.
- Menstrual disturbances do not respond to any form of treatment.
- Natural treatment methods and home remedies do not help in curbing symptoms of ill health.
- Inability to conceive despite no obvious health issue in either of the partners.
- Recurrent systemic disturbances occurring before or after menses.
If a hormonal imbalance is suspected, even the slightest health discomfort should be duly noted and informed to a doctor at the earliest. Hormonal imbalance has a wide variety of presenting symptoms. A doctor’s opinion will help the timely diagnosis and treatment of this health condition.
Hormonal imbalance has a varied symptomatic presentation depending on the woman’s overall health. There may be asymptomatic cases or even cases with a huge array of symptomatic disturbances being present. Irrespective of the symptoms, the hormonal imbalance should not be neglected at all. It is not a condition that will get treated overnight. Patience and dedication in following all the restrictions associated with treatment play a big role in the outcome of treatment. A few extra precautions and restrictions will not do any harm to health.