Finding hormone balance for women in their 40’s and early 50’s can be a rough road. Rougher for some than others. There are two main determining factors to consider:
1. Genetics: Thanks, Mom and Dad!
2. Lifestyle: Stress, sleep, nutrition, exercise, and environmental estrogens
For women, the most pronounced changes come in their 40s and 50s. More recently, a bombardment from external estrogens are forcing these changes earlier in life. It is not out of line to see women as early as their mid-30s seek care for perimenopause-like symptoms. Our hormones are affected by not only our genetics and lifestyle, but also by the pollution, toxins and xenoestrogens (synthetic chemicals that act as estrogen in our bodies) that we’re exposed to every day. How do I know if I have hormone imbalance? Here are the 9 signs:
1. Persistent weight gain.
Yes, there are lifestyle, diet and physical activity components to maintaining a healthy weight, but that isn’t the end of the story. Many women have underlying hormonal imbalances that make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Unaddressed or emerging insulin resistance is one of the most common. When small changes in diet — such as eliminating processed foods, sugars and wheat are unproductive — a deeper dive into the hormones that drive metabolism is necessary.
2. Belly fat and loss of muscle mass.
When your endocrine system is not working properly, it causes an underproduction of certain hormones and an overproduction of others such as Cortisol. This makes your body store fat for future use. If there is an increase in belly fat, then the Estrogen-Progesterone imbalance can be the cause. Do crunches all you like . . . but getting Estrogen in check is the only solution.
3. Low libido.
Usually first and most noticeable symptoms of hormonal imbalance is low libido. Along with low libido comes disturbed sleep. Your body must drop into the deep sleep to restore normal sex hormones. Without quality sleep our sex hormone production can spiral downward.
Can’t make it past mid-morning without some sort of pick-me-up? How about that mid-afternoon crash? It isn’t normal to feel sluggish, scattered or mentally foggy. Blood sugar fluctuations and insulin resistance can play a role; however, so can thyroid imbalance. Sub-optimal thyroid issues can destroy energy momentum in a flash.
5. Anxiety, irritability and depression.
Feeling off? This isn’t the time for antidepressants. Anxiety and depression are signs of imbalance of individual hormones or a cascade of hormones.
6. Insomnia and poor sleep patterns.
This starts the cycle of physical stress and increases cortisol levels, which impacts the effectiveness of hormones circulating in the system. Recovery, including hormone recovery, happens during deep sleep.
“My feet are hot!” Although it hits some women all over, other women just feel it in one area. Regardless . . . it is not to be ignored if you suddenly feel yourself burning up. Night sweats and hot flashes can be an early uncomfortable sign that something is off.
8. Digestion problems.
Gas, bloating and slow digestion are common hormonal problems that are commonly overlooked by doctors. It could be associated with poor eating or food sensitivity, but it is most likely a sign of the hormonal changes effecting enzymes and digestive linings.
After eating way more than you should have, or having gone through half a bottle of wine, do you look back and ask yourself why? Common causes of cravings and excess eating are adrenal fatigue, insulin resistance, and other hormonal imbalances. Many patients have tried minimizing sugars, alcohol, dairy and wheat. Although it helped in the short run, the increased sensitivity that was created by avoiding them has its own blowback. If you could eat it before without bloating and pain . . . you should be able to now. Don’t treat the symptom by avoiding the food that gives you the reaction, restore the balance and the ability to enjoy the food you always have.
Please note that many of these symptoms can be linked to other physical problems. Make sure you are working with a physician who is board certified and is well versed in managing hormone imbalance.
You are right there . . . that point of your life when you know the most and make great things happen. . . ReVitalize your body so you can do it all.