To introduce the five most common hormonal imbalances for women under 50, lets pretend that each of these are your female comrades in arms. Let’s call them sisters. Perhaps as you read you can recognize yourself or a friend in them. Hopefully by the end of this post you will really understand each of these sisters and how they came to be.
P.S. you can be more than one sister at a time, I’ve been sister thyroid and Adrenal fatigue.
She has a strong backbone, great work ethic and tends to over extend herself to make sh*t happen. She is basically a bad-ass. Sister PCOS suffers from some not so badass health issues behind the scenes. She can suffer from irregular to no periods, have trouble getting pregnant, have hormonal acne, suffer from stubborn weight loss, suffer from male like facial hair (hirsutism), male pattern baldness, mood swings, low libido, fatigue, be prone to type 2 diabetes and even a drop in her vocal tone. Sister PCOS has been diagnosed with ovarian cysts which basically wreaks all kind of havoc on her system. For one thing, she has trouble getting pregnant because the follicles that are meant to grow into eggs cannot develop fully which means she is not ovulating and there is no egg available to fertilize. These cysts also contribute to higher than normal level of androgens. The presence of androgens can cause symptoms such as facial hair, male pattern baldness and acne. Sister PCOS also may suffer from insulin resistance from a high stress lifestyle and high sugar diet. Possible causes of PCOS are: Obesity, Genetics, Environmental toxins, Chronic stress, poor diet, Low physical activity levels, and High levels of inflammation. Even though things may look bleak at times for sister PCOS, if she puts her mind into balancing her hormones through diet and lifestyle, she can see a lot of these symptoms resolve. And yes, she can get pregnant ;).
Sister hypo thyroid has some form of an underactive thyroid. Despite the fact that she is a wonderful human being, our hypothyroid sister may feel like a haggard old maid at times. The thing is, it isn’t her fault, its her hormones. she may suffer from extreme fatigue, stubborn weight loss or weight gain, cold hands and feet, dry skin and frizzy hair, memory issues, constipation, depression, alopecia (thinning hair), low body temperature, water retention, infertility, irregular periods and joint pain. There are several ways this may be playing out, it could be an autoimmune condition attacking her thyroid, it could be genetics, it could be connected to poor digestion or even her adrenals. One way or another, she does not have enough active form of the thyroid hormone,free T3, flowing through her system to make her feel lush, vibrant and happy.
SISTER PMS-EXCESS ESTROGEN
Sister PMS is definitely the mean girl on the block making things real difficult for ladies around our periods. The thing is PMS is often a sign that something deeper is out of balance and although hard to deal with she can be very illuminating. Among the common symptoms of PMS (mood swings, cystic acne, tender breasts, migraines, and painful cramps) she may also have heavy periods. Often times she is a result of other hormonal imbalances, one in particular being excess estrogen. Many of the toxins in our environment, (PHthalates, BPA and hormones in conventional meat and dairy products) are Xenoestrogens and therefore have an estrogenic effect on our hormones. On top of that if you are not supporting your detox pathways you may not be ridding your system of these estrogens. In the case of constipation, for example, the estrogens in your waste will actually be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Or there could be high levels of estrogen because of the lack of progesterone due to no ovulation. Sister PMS is really a report card for how our hormones are doing as a whole.
SISTER ADRENAL DYSREGULATION (ADRENAL FATIGUE)
You may know this sister very well, she is the over achiever who is always spinning multiple plates at once. She is a mother, has a full time job and a side hustle selling stuff online. She does not have an off switch even though she desperately needs one. Depending on which phase of this condition she may act and feel very different. In the early stages, because of so much stress, she may feel wired but tired, frazzled and pushing past her limits. In the later stages she may barely have enough energy to get out of bed, she may begin to feel a little like sister hypothyroid and she may begin to depend greatly on her 3-5 cups of coffee to get through the day. This condition really deserves its own post, however to put it simply, when our wonder woman sister is overloaded with stress she can exhaust her adrenals and therefore their function in the HPA axis. Basically her adrenals crash from over exertion in response to modern stressors. Symptoms include: anxiety, chronic fatigue, second wind in the evenings, brain fog, depression, dry skin and hair, brittle nails,weak immune system, craving for salty foods and lack of focus.
SISTER LOW SEX HORMONES
There are many elements to sister low sex hormones. She is quite complex. She could be a result of any one of or combination of the following: low pregnenolone, low progesterone and high estrogen, low estrogen and low testosterone. She may suffer from low libido, fatigue, depression, no period or irregular period and mood swings. Often times this can happen with aging and the onset of menopause, but for younger women it could be connected to other hormonal imbalances and life stressors. For example for those cardio bunnies out there who also eat like birds, their restrictive lifestyle could affect their fertility and prevent ovulation leading to low progesterone. Birth control pills and other medications can also lead to low progesterone down the road. Even thyroid and Adrenal conditions can affect low sex hormones. It’s all a symphony, if one player ain’t playing it breaks.