8 surprising signs of a hormonal imbalance in women

Spotting these clues early, then getting help quickly should improve your chances of conceiving!

​​​​​​When a couple tries for a baby, one simple step is key: To have sex regularly. In no time, most couples are proudly bringing home their precious bundle from the hospital.

Sadly, as some couples face fertility issues, getting pregnant isn’t that simple.

Fertility problems can be caused by many factors including your hormones, which are produced by your endocrine system . These chemical messengers that flow around your body are responsible for ensuring that tissues and organs function correctly.

The various organs and glands around your body produce different hormones, such as:

* The pancreas Produces insulin to control blood sugar levels in your body.

* The thyroid glands produces hormones associated with your body’s energy and metabolic needs. These can also affect your menstrual patterns.

* In women, the ovaries secrete oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone which your body requires in order to conceive.

* In men, the testes produce both testosterone and sperm for reproduction.

An oestrogen deficiency can cause night sweats and feelings of anxiety, which can disrupt your sleep patterns.

Your body functions optimally when your hormones are kept in balance. Tip the balance and you’ll have too much or too little of a certain hormone — both of which can have a serious effect on the body. National University Hospital Women’s Centre consultant, Dr Susan Logan points out the signs of a hormonal imbalance:

1) Chronic fatigue Your body’s progesterone levels may be in overdrive which can cause you to feel sleepy all the time. Dr Logan notes that hypothyroidism — your body’s lack of thyroid hormones — can affect your awareness. “[Otherwise] an oestrogen deficiency can also cause tiredness, similar to your underactive thyroid.”

2) Insomnia, hot flashes and night sweats An oestrogen deficiency can cause night sweats and feelings of anxiety, which can disrupt your sleep patterns, states Dr Logan.

 

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3) Acne While it is normal to experience an breakout on or before your period, persistent acne could be a sign of a testosterone overload. This causes your oil glands to become overactive, such that the overproduction of sebum can clog your pores.

4) Poor memory Your body’s oestrogen shortfall can give rise to memory and concentration issues. In fact, Dr Logan notes, “Premature menopause — where women under 40 years of age go into menopause — is associated with a higher risk of dementia.”

5) Mood swings and depression Changes in your body’s oestrogen levels can mess with your dopamine or serotonin levels leaving you in a low mood. It is also the reason why most women encounter mood swings during their period.

HRT does come with its own set of health risks, such as breast cancer and stroke, which increases with length of use and the dosage strength.

6) Diarrhoea Dr Logan notes that this could be caused by your overactive thyroid glands, which increases your body’s metabolism.

7) Constipation High progesterone levels in your body may mean you have trouble pooping.

8) Vaginal dryness Your low oestrogen levels are to blame. Needless to say, this issue can make sexual intercourse uncomfortable and painful.

What are your treatment options?

Depending on the hormonal deficiency you suffer from and what causes it, your physician may advise you to undergo Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). For instance, if you are suffering from early or premature menopause, your doctor may prescribe HRT until you reach the age of 50 or 52, Dr Logan notes. But this treatment can be lifelong in most cases as these conditions tend to be chronic in nature and are not reversible.

However, HRT does come with its own set of health risks, such as breast cancer and stroke, which increases with length of use and the dosage strength.

Photos: iStock

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