Hormones are obviously an important part of how our bodies function, but most of us don’t know very much about their roles and how they can impact our health. You might blame your hormones for your PMS-related mood swings or annoying breakouts, but it’s hard to know if you’ve got a more persistent hormonal imbalance. Some hormone changes are completely normal and part of regular functioning, but others can have serious health implications and shouldn’t be ignored.
Here are nine signs that may indicate your hormones are seriously out of whack. If you’re experiencing one or more of these, be sure to talk to your doctor to determine the underlying cause.
1. You’re Experiencing Drastic Weight Changes
“Weight gain or loss without any changes in your diet or exercise regimen can suggest a thyroid abnormality, estrogen imbalance or insulin resistance,” Dr. Sherry Ross, an obstetrician and gynecologist, and author of “she-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Health. Period,” said in an interview with Simplemost.
Sudden weight changes and hormone imbalances are closely connected. During menopause, women often have unexpected gain weight without changing their normal diets or exercise regimens.
2. You’re Losing Hair
If you start to notice a change in the amount of hair you find in your brush or you notice bald spots or clumps of hair falling out from your scalp, you should bring it to the attention of your health care provider.
“One of the common causes of hair loss is hormonal imbalance caused by a thyroid abnormality or estrogen fluctuation as seen during the postpartum period,” Ross said.
3. You Have Irregular Periods
Paying attention to changes in your period can help you spot fluctuations in estrogen and thyroid problems.
“No period, short periods, long periods and frequent periods are all signs that you may be having a hormonal imbalance,” Ross said. “Assuming you don’t have a uterine polyp, fibroid or an ovarian cyst, period changes could suggest peri-menopause, menopause or a thyroid abnormality.”
4. You’re Fatigued
Feeling more exhausted or tired than usual? Your hormones may be to blame. Imbalances in hormones can also cause sleep issues, which can lead to chronic tiredness.
“Fatigue is a major symptom for an either under or overactive thyroid gland or diabetes,” endocrinologist Dr. Rocío Salas-Whalen told Simplemost.
5. Your Bathroom Habits Are Changing
Changes in your thyroid hormones can lead to problems with your bowel movements, whether that means constipation or more frequent trips to the bathroom. Your thyroid hormones can either make your organs operate more quickly or have the opposite effect and slow them down.
6. Your Blood Pressure Is High
If you’re experiencing uncontrolled hypertension, or constant high blood pressure, that can be an indicator that something is awry.
“We see this when there is an excess of cortisol secretion, thyroid disorder and obesity,” Salas-Whalen said.
7. You Have Kidney Stones
It’s not the most common symptom—although it can be a painful one—but an increase in kidney stones can be an indicator that your hormones are off balance.
“We see this when there is an excess of calcium in our blood due to hyperparathyroidism,” Salas-Whalen said.
8. You’ve Been Feeling Forgetful
Some symptoms of hormone imbalance aren’t physical and can affect your mental state instead. Hypothyroidism can cause brain fog as well as affect short-term memory. Your brain requires sufficient hormones to function, so a lack of those hormones can diminish your ability to focus.
9. Your Skin Is Changing
Out-of-whack hormones can also cause changes in your skin. Problems with thyroid hormones can make your skin feel dry, while dark patches on places like your cheeks and breasts can be indicative of increased estrogen, especially when expecting a child.