Hormonal changes can produce a wide range of physical and mental symptoms. Hormones are the chemical messengers that allow your body to function in harmony.
During your reproductive years, women’s hormones cycle up and down every month naturally. Changes also commonly occur during the two significant events in your life that affect your hormones the most: pregnancy and menopause.
What’s more, hormonal diseases like low and high thyroid (hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism) occur more in women than in men.
Each hormone has a function or a number of functions, including those that help promote the changes that need to occur for a woman’s metabolism and reproductive system to function optimally.
However, the symptoms that stem from hormonal problems are often subtle or appear so gradually; they can be hard to identify.
Here are the most common signs of a hormonal condition to watch out for:
- Fertility problems – Because hormonal conditions can interfere with the normal functioning of reproductive hormones, and stop the signals that prepare your ovary to release an egg. That is why your doctor will check for the presence of all different types of hormonal conditions then you see them about difficulties with becoming pregnant.
- Bowel changes – New symptoms of constipation or diarrhea, going to the bathroom more or less often could be a sign of a thyroid problem.
- Temperature changes – Have you been sweating a little more recently, or experiencing hot flashes? These symptoms could be a sign of menopause, whereas cold intolerance is a sign of hypothyroidism.
- Irregular periods – If you’ve noticed some changes in the frequency of your periods, you’ve been skipping periods, or they’re heavier or lighter than they have been recently, your hormones may be to blame.
- Mood changes – Others are often the first to noticed changes in our moods, occasionally to our dismay! However, if you’ve been more irritable, depressed, anxious or angry, this may be a sign or a normal or abnormal hormonal change. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) may be the culprit if the mood changes appear before your period, or you could be presenting with signs of low thyroid, high thyroid, pregnancy, menopause or high steroid levels.
- Change in libido – Increased and decreased sex drive can both be linked to your hormones. Vaginal dryness is another symptom to watch out for.
- Hair changes – High androgen (or male hormone) levels and high steroid levels can lead to more hair on the face, back, chest and abdomen. Polycystic ovary syndrome can also cause these changes, as well as irregular periods and ovarian cysts. Or perhaps you’ve been losing hair? This can be a sign of a thyroid problem.
- Nipple discharge – It’s normal to notice a milky discharge being secreted from the nipples during pregnancy and breastfeeding, when the pituitary gland releases typically a little prolactin, stimulating milk production. At other times, this discharge may indicate a growth on the pituitary gland called a prolactinoma, which also leads to irregular periods and fertility problems. Get checked out if a discharge is only being released from one of your nipples, too, at any time.
- Skin changes – Acne or dry skin may be a sign of hormonal changes of a wide variety.
- Weight changes – If your habits haven’t changed very much, but you’ve lost or gained weight, this may be a sign of thyroid, steroid, or other hormonal condition.
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? If so, make an appointment with your integrative physician to find out if the changes you’re experiencing require medical attention and treatment.