Hormone balance in women may be maladjusted in women as young as twenty, although the symptoms do tend to increase with age. Symptoms of an uneven hormone balance should not be ignored as this may increase their severity. Such symptoms may include some or all of the following conditions –
- Allergy symptoms similar to hay fever
- Depression accompanied by anxiety and extreme fatigue
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Hair loss or growth of facial hair
- Headaches, dizziness, loss of concentration
- Low sex drive
- An increase in pre-menstrual symptoms
- Repeated urinary tract infections
- Uterine fibroids
- Unexplained weight gain
- Water retention and associated bloating
- Increased appearance of wrinkles on the skin
- Gynaecological problems
- Extremely light periods
- Impaired immunity
- Vaginal dryness
Causes of abnormal hormone balance
Hormone balance refers to the relationship between the two female hormones progesterone and oestrogen levels which exist in delicate balance together. When variations in the levels of these hormones develop the effect on a womans health may be dramatic and worrying. Hormone levels are known to vary and may be affected by a number of factors – including stress, nutrition, exercise and ovulation.
As society becomes more and more industrialised we are all increasingly exposed to chemical that contain hormones whether in the home or at work, or even from the fumes of a car exhaust, the increased use of birth control pills even means that some drinking water is contaminated.
Women lead increasingly stressful lives and eat much more processed food than ever before. The increased use of hormonal replacement treatments and hysterectomies may cause excess levels of oestrogen and have an overall adverse effect on hormone balance.
Hormone balance and the menstrual cycle
In the first days of the menstrual cycle the only hormone produced by the female body is oestrogen. Progesterone is produced by the ovaries if and when ovulation occurs. When menstruation occurs, on around day 28 of the cycle, levels of both hormones will drop.
Should ovulation not occur no progesterone is produced by the ovaries and a hormone imbalance develops due to the presence of oestrogen but no balancing progesterone.
Lifestyle changes to improve hormone balance
Making some simple dietary changes may well improve your hormone balance. These include –
- Increase intake of fluids – but avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol
- Follow a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables – if possible choose organic products.
- Eliminate processed foods from your diet
- Increase foods such as oily fish, nuts and seeds that are sources of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.
- Take moderate, regular exercise
- Try stress relieving exercise such as yoga
- Some women have found benefits to their hormone balance by using dietary supplements such as vitamin B, C and D
- Alternative therapies such as massage, aromatherapy, acupuncture and herbal medications have also been found to be useful by some women.