What comes to mind first when you think of the phrase hormonal imbalance? If you’re like most women, you immediately think of pre-menstrual syndrome or menopause. And while those are definitely two instances where hormonal imbalances occur, they are by no means the only ones.
Women can experience problems stemming from hormonal issues at any time. The key to dealing with them is to recognize the symptoms in a timely manner, and to talk to your doctor, who will then prescribe the best course of treatment for your particular case.
The Causes of Hormonal Imbalance
Many different factors can affect the balance of hormones in a woman’s body. From diet and stress levels to age and weight, the causes of hormonal imbalance are varied. For example, during menopause, the amount of estrogen and progesterone produced by the body naturally decreases. But simply being overweight at any age, as another example, can also cause changes in body chemistry, since fat cells actually produce estrogen. The causes of a woman’s individual hormonal imbalance can usually be determined by testing her saliva, urine, or blood, if they are not immediately clear through her symptoms.
The Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
The symptoms of hormonal imbalance all boil down to some basic biology. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that regulates hormone production in the body. But it is also responsible for functions such as controlling blood pressure, hunger and thirst, body temperature, and metabolism. When there is an upset in the balance of hormones, therefore, it naturally affects these other interconnected body systems, causing the hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, and weight gain commonly associated with menopause.
But these are not the only symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women. Menorrhagia, or unusually heavy bleeding during periods, as well as dramatic mood swings, insomnia, inability to concentrate, loss of appetite, and even hirsutism, in which women begin to grow hair in stereotypically male places, can also signal a problem with hormone levels.
If you begin to exhibit any of these symptoms, it’s best to speak to your OB/GYN right away. Doing nothing rarely solves the problem, and sometimes, the longer you wait to seek medical care, the more severe the symptoms become.In fact, some conditions can actually develop due to long-term hormone imbalances. The bone demineralization of osteoporosis, for example, is sped up by estrogen deficiency.
The Treatment of Hormonal Imbalance
Once you explain your symptoms to your physician, he or she will be able to develop a treatment plan to meet your individual needs. This plan is usually based on the underlying causes of your hormonal imbalance.
So, for example, if your imbalance is due to lifestyle issues such as the quality of your diet and the amount of exercise you get, you may be put on a new nutrition and exercise regimen in order to naturally regulate your hormones. If, however, the cause is not simply lifestyle-related, you may be put on birth control, such as pills, the Nuvaring, or the Orthoevra patch, in order to get your hormones to the correct levels again. And for women experiencing menopause, hormone replacement therapy may be the order of the day.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms of hormonal imbalance, and you live near the East Texas towns of Longview, Tyler, or Henderson, contact your nearest Zeid Women’s Health Center location today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians. We would be happy to consult with you about your health, and to help you develop a plan of action to get you feeling your best again.