We hear talk of hormones all the time, but what, exactly, are they? Hormones are made by the body and send messages to other parts of our body—like tissues, cells and organs. Hormones go through our bloodstreams and bodies via our endocrine glands until they get to their destined places.
They’re responsible for a lot of things, including our mood, the way we grow, how we metabolize food, how thirsty we get, our body temperature, and our sexual development.
Basically, everything about us is regulated by our hormones. Hence, they’re vital to our well-being. How can we tell, then, when they’re acting up? Here are a few key signs that something’s out of sync and you should see your doctor.
1. Constant Exhaustion
Are you getting enough sleep, yet constantly tired? This could be due to Cortisol, otherwise known as “the stress hormone.” AdrenalFatigue.org says that “cortisol influences, regulates or modulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress.”
Some of these things are blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and immune responses. After a stressful event, our bodies are supposed to go back to normal (whatever that is for us), not stay in a stressed state.
2. A Low Libido
When our sex hormone production is reduced, this could be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. Usually, this begins with sleep issues, then leads to lack-of-sex-drive ones.
3. Anxiety, Irritability And Depression
If you have anxiety, are irritable, and/or depressed lately—and you were not before—take note. Sometimes, the thyroid gland can be at fault (too much TSH, or hypothyroidism), so it’s best to pay attention to your symptoms, when they start and end, how often they occur, etc., then see your doctor.
4. Unexplained Weight Gain
If you haven’t necessarily been eating more lately, but you’re gaining weight, it may be due to your adrenal system becoming fatigued, then alerting your thyroid, which then slows your metabolism. The pancreas gets the signal, too, and starts to store fat in all our favorite places, particularly our midsections and backs. So, make sure to pay attention to unwarranted weight gain.
When progesterone levels go down, our tendency to have insomnia can go up. Estrogen helps us have regular sleeping patterns, and when we don’t have enough estrogen, watch out.
This tends to be common in perimenopausal or menopausal women, but can happen to women of all ages. The same can happen when we don’t have enough testosterone (yes, women have testosterone).
6. Routine Digestive Problems
Cortisol, which we talked about above, is usually abundant in the morning. But, if your cortisol is being overproduced, it’ll be low in the morning. If you’re having more digestive issues than usual (as far as bloating and gas, for example), your body is not absorbing nutrients effectively. So, pay attention to your body. It may be cluing you in that all is not well.
7. Unusual Cravings
We eat a bunch of Oreos. Why? Is this a common occurrence, or a new thing, where we get insatiable cravings? Oreos today, and corn chips tomorrow. Of course, hormonal imbalances can be the cause. In general, not giving in to the cravings can also help with the digestive issues we mentioned above.
8. Premature Hair Loss
A lack of testosterone is usually the cause, though now Dyhydrotestosterone (DHT) is being pinpointed, says Eat Local Grown. The testosterone causes DHT to initiate hair loss, another sign to go get your hormone levels checked.
9. Migraines And Headaches
Although headaches and migraines can be symptoms of many different ailments, they tend to be a sign of a hormonal imbalance. Healthy And Natural World suggests keeping track of when the headaches occur so you can see if there are commonalities or triggers.
10. Hot Flashes
No one likes hot flashes. Oftentimes, they are due to not enough progesterone and too much estrogen, but could also be from hormones that are out of whack in other parts of your body—i.e., your gastrointestinal tract, ovaries, thyroid, adrenals, or pancreas. If your hot flashes are recurring, it’s time to call your doctor.
As my mom likes to tell me, “When in doubt, go check it out.”