A woman’s body undergoes plenty of changes from infancy till old age- and a lot of these changes are brought on by changes in the hormone levels. Some of these hormonal changes might be detrimental to their health. These imbalances might be caused by a variety of factors, like age, physiological changes, diet and lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at main causes of hormonal imbalance:
- Emotional stress
- Dietary factors
- Pain and inflammation
One of the most common imbalances is the dominance of estrogen over progesterone. Either too much estrogen is being produced, or there isn’t enough estrogen. It’s important to remember that such imbalance may be caused due to fluctuation in levels of other hormones- like adrenal hormones and thyroid hormones.
This imbalance causes symptoms like:
- Weight gain
- Fluid retention
- Pre-menstrual Stress problems like anger, irritability and anxiety, lasting from a day to weeks
- Migraines and headaches
- Hypermenorrhoea, or in cases of low progesterone, very less bleeding
- Breast lumps, cysts
- Cramps, back pain
Let’s take a closer look at what can cause imbalances like these:
Stress : It can be a major cause of hormonal imbalance. It can be caused by situations that cause stress: physical stress like pain and injury, relationship problems, stress at work, lack of sleep etc. Dietary stress, caused by eating foods like processed food items, or foods like gluten that cause inflammatory reactions in the body, can also cause hormonal imbalance. Stress causes an increase in the production of cortisol which can decrease progesterone levels. High cortisol levels can also cause an inflammatory response that block progesterone receptors, so that even if your body has enough progesterone, it will not work. High cortisol will also affect messages coming from hypothalamus and pituitary gland, parts of the brain which are controllers and regulators of hormonal levels in body.
Digestion and metabolism : Digestive problems like constipation, diarrhea, bloating and Gastric Acid Reflux Disease are all signs of inflammation. This inflammation suppresses the hypothalamus, which regulates the production of sex hormones, thyroid hormones and adrenal hormones. Also, the liver is where hormones like estrogen and progesterone are metabolized. If Phase 1 or 2 of the metabolic process is affected, this might increase the estrogen level in the body. Poor liver metabolism can cause production of less desirable analogs of estrogen, like 4 and 16-hydroxyestrone which are associated with breast cancer.
Thyroid function : Thyroid hormone function can also affect the production of progesterone.
Testosterone imbalance : Testosterone is important for women too, for maintaining hormonal imbalance. Depleted testosterone can lead to low libido and energy levels. High levels can lead to weight gain, acne, hirsutism and can lead to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Medication : Oral contraceptives can affect hormonal balance.
Chronic pain and inflammation : Hormonal imbalance is related to pain in the following manner:
- Vitamin D : Low Vitamin D levels increase inflammation and pain.
- Cortisol : Low levels of cortisol, produced by the adrenal glands, is affected by chronic pain and stress that affects the production of hormones
- Estrogen and Progesterone : imbalance of estrogen to progesterone may increase pain and inflammation.
- Testosterone : as we age, testosterone levels drop and low testosterone levels increase joint pain and muscle aches.
- Thyroid : the thyroid hormone regulates muscle and nerve action. Muscle and joint pain can be related to hypothyroidism.
- DHEA : it’s called the Anti-aging Hormone, replacement of which can decrease joint soreness.