Female Hormonal Imbalances: Addressing the Root of the Problem
Hormonal imbalances in women are extremely common, and often misdiagnosed or overlooked by conventional practitioners.
There are over 80 types of hormones in the body, and even tiny imbalances can make you feel anxious and irritable, gain weight, or have trouble sleeping.
In functional medicine, we focus on understanding the “why” behind a condition. Then, we address the problem at the level of cause - instead of just medicating the issue with medications, like birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalances
Many of the common “signs of aging” are actually signs of a hormonal imbalance, which become even more common as a woman approaches menopause. Hormonal imbalances can occur at any age, triggering conditions like hypothyroidism and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance in women include:
Anxiety or depression
Insomnia or trouble sleeping
Weight gain or trouble losing weight
Crying or emotional
Brain fog or trouble concentrating
Low sex drive
Trouble controlling blood sugar levels
How Stress Influences Hormones
A common underlying factor of hormonal imbalances in women is low progesterone caused by high levels of chronic stress. Stress is a big deal to your body and it’s not just emotional stress that is a trigger, either.
Other common causes of high stress include:
Too much caffeine
Too much sugar
Poor nutrition (the “Standard American Diet”)
Lack of exercise
Inflammation due to food sensitivities
Poor gut health
Autoimmune conditions, such as Hashimoto’s or lupus
Never taking time to rest and recover from the daily grind
Your body responds to these stressors by preparing for “fight or flight” mode. When your body is in this state, regulating hormones to optimal levels is not the priority!
Stress triggers a process known as “progesterone steal,” which occurs when the compounds needed to make progesterone are used to create stress hormones instead. As a result, women with low progesterone will experience rough PMS and menopause symptoms.
Restoring Hormones Naturally
Even in the functional medicine space, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an extremely common intervention for hormonal imbalance. HRT may be a good fit for your needs; however, it’s important to know that HRT has its own risks and may not address the true underlying problem within your body.
In our clinic, we take a personalized approach to hormone balancing that include lifestyle changes, targeted nutrition, and physician-grade supplementation.
Below are nutritional recommendations that help balance your hormones:
Eat whole foods
Avoid processed foods packed with unhealthy chemicals
Avoid added sugar
Drink less caffeine - or eliminate it all together
Drink more water
Consume adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrates and fats
Additionally, certain supplements are effective in supporting female hormone health and the body’s stress handling systems.
These actions will begin to address “progesterone steal,” but a more individualized approach is likely required. If your hormonal imbalance is due to an autoimmune condition, leaky gut or a long-term chronic infection, nutritional and lifestyle changes will help, but not entirely fix, the problem.
Everyone has so many questions when they first discover our clinic and learn more about functional medicine. Reach out to us to schedule a free call where we can learn more about your needs and determine if you’re a good fit for what we do!