Have you ever gotten a message that ruined your day? Someone sent you a text or left a message that really messed things up and caused a disruption that just spun everything out. Have you ever later found out that it was just a misunderstanding, bad signal, or a miscommunication in the message that ruined your day? I bet you didn’t throw your phone out or yell at whoever gave you the message. I also bet you are wondering what this has to do with hormones and hormone imbalance causes. It has everything to do with it. Hear me out because if we don’t listen to what our hormones are telling us, it can lead to a bad day, a bad month, maybe even a bad year, or worse – a life of poor health.
As you sit there right now messages are being communicated throughout your body. Thousands of messages that play an important role in your health and keeping everything balanced. These messages have everything to do with hormones.
What Are Hormones and Hormone Imbalance?
Hormones are chemical messengers that coordinate your body’s internal homeostasis. (1) (2) Most people think of sex hormones when they think of hormones, but hormones are working all over the body. They are fatty acids or protein-based signals that tell tissues what to do, so they play an important role in a number of physiological processes including:
- growth and development
- metabolism and energy
- sexual function
If that message gets messed up, or disrupted, then it can disrupt all these things and potentially lead to cancer. Your body is always working towards homeostasis. It doesn’t make mistakes, so if you’re having symptoms that suggest a hormone imbalance then don’t shoot the messenger. Remember the old game telephone, where you whisper something in someone’s ear and it goes around a circle but by the time it gets around the circle its totally messed up. Somewhere along the line the message changed or was disrupted. If you think of hormones as a messenger, then you can look for the answer to hormone concerns.
Hormonal imbalance is the body trying to return to homeostasis. In traditional thinking, if there is a hormone that is causing a problem it needs to be fixed. But here’s the thing… hormones are chemical messengers. Your body creates them for certain reasons or doesn’t create them for certain reasons. It’s our job to have a different perspective and ask why.
We need to find out what is happening to change or disrupt the message. Then we need to support the body to return to homeostasis.
Common Hormone Imbalance Causes:
- Unhealthy gut
- Mental stress
- Hormone therapy
- Poor sleep
Men, Women, and Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
If I were to ask you what hormone makes a man a man, what would you say? That’s an easy one, right? Most people respond with testosterone. Now with women it’s a bit more complicated. There is a bit more that a woman’s body has to do in reproduction. Okay, a lot more! So, when I ask what hormone makes a woman a woman, I get a few different answers. A common one that comes up is estrogen. It surprises many people when I tell them, did you know that estrogen isn’t a hormone?
Estrogen is actually an umbrella term for a group of chemically similar hormones, but they all have different properties. Hormones are even more complicated than you have been led to believe! So, if someone tells you that your estrogen is too high then you have to ask which of them. Unfortunately, most doctors don’t fully test all the hormones to get to the full story of what those messengers are saying and what they are responding to. It’s a different way of thinking about hormones but once you start listening to those hormones it makes sense.
Both men and women can suffer from symptoms of hormonal imbalance. It can manifest in a number of ways.
Signs of hormone imbalance in men and women:
- Weight gain/loss
- Muscle weakness or aches
- Digestive issues
- Decreased sex drive
- Frequent urination
- Sleep problems and disruptions
- Cold hands or feet
- Hair loss
We most often hear about hormone concerns related to women, but men also experience them including declining testosterone. Just because its common doesn’t mean it’s normal.
Signs of hormone imbalance in men:
- Development of breast tissue
- Breast tenderness
- Demotivation (If you think he’s lazy, it might be a sign he’s sick)
- Decrease in body hair
- Loss of focus
- Erectile Dysfunction
There are many signs of hormone imbalance that women think are normal. These signs are actually your body trying to tell you something.
Signs of hormonal imbalance in women:
- PMS (bloating, irritability, etc. It’s called premenstrual syndrome for a reason)
- Menopause symptoms
- Heavy or irregular periods
- Excessive body or facial hair
- Night sweats
- Hair loss
- Vaginal dryness
- Breast discharge
- Pain during sex
Listen to the Messenger
Hormone imbalance symptoms might be overlooked but we need to pay attention to them. These symptoms are a sign of bigger concerns and if they aren’t addressed can lead to severe illness. The body is like a Swiss watch and everything in the body is connected like the gears of a Swiss watch. If one of those gears is not working properly it will throw off all of the other gears. Signs of hormonal imbalance more often point to a health concern. Your body doesn’t make mistakes so if you are experiencing these symptoms something is causing it. Ignoring it could mean ignoring an underlying health issue or lead to chronic illness.
Now think of all those hormones in your body right now relaying messages and back to that game of telephone. Do you think it is easier to correct that disrupted message if you find it sooner or later? Now imagine that game of telephone with thousands of people connected to different circles of people. How messed up could that message get? There are thousands of messages being communicated in your body right now. Correcting them sooner is going to be a lot easier.
Risks of Ignoring your Hormones
The danger of not listening to the signs of hormone imbalance means you are leaving your health unaddressed. Hormones are often a secondary problem. While hormone imbalance can have a significant impact on our mental health and how we feel daily. They also can tell us about potential problems that are causing the hormonal imbalance or of future potential health concerns. Not listening can leave you at risk for potential health concerns like depression, cancer, diabetes, thyroid problems, and adrenal concerns. Women also have the added concerns of PCOS, endometriosis, ovarian failure, and others. Symptoms can become even bigger problems.
Your hormones make up so much of who you are and play a significant role in your overall health. You can see that it is important to listen up and not neglect these messengers.
Next Steps for Supporting Your Hormones
A lot of what we do in our modern-day world doesn’t support our hormones. We need to make efforts to change our habits that are destroying our health because often our bodies are telling us our bad habits aren’t working.
So, it’s time to review those habits and the best ones to make sure you have are these:
- Solid sleep habits – Sleep is when our bodies heal, and it allows hormones to be replenished. Follow our tips for better sleep.
- Heal your gut and avoid inflammatory foods including allergies – Inflammation can tax our hormones and gut inflammation can deter hormone creation.
- Exercise correctly – Movement is important for all of us. Women especially need to make sure they are exercising for their hormones and not overdoing it.
- Reduce mental stress – Mental stress can seem difficult to control but it can be a significantly harmful on hormonal health. Reducing your stress can do a lot to support your hormones.
- Reduce toxins – The more toxins you are exposed to the more stress on your liver where many hormones are converted.
- Avoid white sugar – Sugar is an especially harmful toxin for both men and women. Avoid sugar and processed foods to support your hormones. Swap unhealthy foods for organic, whole foods.
- Enjoy healthy fats – All fats aren’t bad. Enjoy healthy fats to stay full and help build healthy hormones.
- Build healthy relationships – Connecting is so important for healthy hormones.
- Get tested – You don’t have a complete picture of your hormones unless you get them fully tested. If you are trying to do everything right but it’s not working, then you need to find out what is going on. A Wellness Way practitioner can help you identify other testing that may need to be done for your individual needs.
Don’t Shoot the Messenger
Your hormones have an important role as a messenger. If you’re experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance don’t shoot the messenger and try to just manipulate your hormones. You can manipulate your hormones for your whole life. It’s not health restoration. Manipulating the message does nothing for restoring your body back to normal. We need to step back and understand what they are telling us and the hormone imbalance causes.
We need to find out what is going on to help your hormones bring things back to balance and you aren’t alone. Contact a Wellness Way Clinic near you to start your journey to restore your health.
Written by Dr. Patrick Flynn