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31 Signs You Have A Hormone Imbalance

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31 Signs You Have A Hormone Imbalance

Why Hormone Imbalances Cause Weight Gain, Mood Swings And Anxiety By Dr. Libby Weaver
Dr. Libby Weaver
Dr. Libby Weaver More by this author
Mar 03, 2016 at 12:45 PM

Sex hormones can be delicious substances that give you energy and vitality, yet they can also wreak havoc in your life. When it comes to fat burning, beautiful skin, mental clarity, a sense of calm, the ability to be patient and not make mountains out of molehills, as well as fertility, very few substances in our body impact us more than our sex hormones.

In my new book, Accidentally Overweight, I discuss why these hormones in particular, have such an impact on our weight. Even the smallest disruption to the delicate balance can be devastating.

 Here are 31 signs your sex hormones could be out of balance and in need of support:

·    Your periods are heavy
·    Your periods contain clots
·    Your periods are painful
·    You experience a heavy, dragging feeling as the menstrual blood passes
·    Your breasts are swollen and/or tender in the lead up to menstruation
·    You regularly experience headaches or migraines in the lead up to menstruation
·    You experience mood swings in the lead up to menstruation— or at the same time each month, for example around ovulation—which swing anywhere from immense irritability to intense sadness, sometimes in the same hour, and often for no reason you can fathom!
·    You experience PMS
·    You’ve been diagnosed with a condition such as PCOS, endometriosis or fibroids
·    Your skin breaks out with your cycle
·    Your menstrual cycle is irregular
·    You are experiencing a debilitating menopause
·    Acne started at puberty and it hasn’t resolved
·    Weight gain occurred at puberty for the first time (can also be food-related and/or emotional)
·    A tendency toward low moods occurred at puberty for the first time (can also be food-related and/or emotional)
·    You retain fluid and this is worse in the lead up to menstruation
·    You feel anxious in the lead up to menstruation
·    You crave foods, often sweets, more so in the lead up to menstruation
·    You feel a deep fatigue in the lead up to menstruation
·    You are having challenges conceiving
·    You have “unexplained infertility”
·    Your bowel habits change (either to constipation or diarrhea) in the lead up to, or during, menstruation
·    Your head feels “foggy” in the lead up to menstruation
·    You take painkillers during menstruation
·    Most months you have a day/s off due to menstruation challenges
·    You feel like you can’t get your breath past your heart (and down into your belly) in the lead up to menstruation
·    You have pimples/congested skin/acne on your back or chest
·    “Unexplained” weight gain, particularly around the abdomen and hips
·    Cold hands and feet. This is worse in the lead up to menstruation
·    Tendency toward yellow-tinged skin (which is not caused by other factors, such as a liver disease)
·    You experience poor (or worse) sleep quality in the lead up to menstruation.

Estrogen plays numerous important roles in the human body, including those associated with reproduction, promoting new bone growth, and supporting cardiovascular health. The challenge with estrogen, however, occurs when there is too much of it compared to other hormones, progesterone in particular.

Explore 9 Elements in the weight-loss puzzle in my book, Accidentally Overweight

Since the female body is biologically programmed to conceive each month, whether a woman wants to or not, estrogen is there to ensure that she has adequate body fat to support a baby. In the event that the woman is a stick figure without much body fat, it is possible that a brand new fetus may not survive. To prevent this, estrogen signals fat to be laid down in specific areas, broadening the hips for example, to better serve the childbirth process. 

Estrogen is typically responsible for making the lower half of a female body broader than the top half. Estrogen also, unfortunately, promotes fluid retention when it is in excess.

Fluid retention

I am convinced that many women “feel” fat when really they are either bloated or retaining fluid. Hormone levels fluctuate over the month and can increase the amount of fluid being retained until the hormones return to balance. Besides, when you weigh yourself, remember that all you are really doing is weighing your self-esteem. I have met thousands of women who can gain 7lb (3kg) in a day, and to say that this messes with their mind is an understatement.

If you get on the scales in the morning and weigh 143lb, and, by the evening, you weigh 150lb, especially if you have eaten well and done some exercise that day and even if you haven’t eaten perfectly or exercised that day, it’s easy to feel incredibly disheartened and wonder how on earth this could possibly happen.

Remember this: It is not physically possible to gain 7lb (3kg) of body fat in a single day. The only possible cause is fluid retention. Yet even though the logical part of the female mind will know this, seeing three extra kilos on the scales over the course of just a day, or even a week, will make most women, no matter how logical, feel fat, flat, and lousy. 

There can be numerous factors behind fluid retention; poor lymphatic flow, mineral deficiencies and imbalances, poor thyroid function, excess stress hormone production, and poor progesterone production.

Progesterone is a powerful antianxiety agent, an antidepressant and a diuretic, and it is essential if you are to access fat to utilize it for energy. Without the right amounts you will predominantly utilize glucose as your major fuel—not body fat—which may also lead to breaking your muscles down for additional energy, rather than burning fat.

Stress and sex hormones

When you are internally rattled, cortisol communicates to every cell of your body that there is no food left in the world and, as a result, it wants your body to break muscle down and store fat. 

Since your body links progesterone to fertility, if your body’s perception is that your life is in danger and that there is no food left in the world, the last thing it wants is for a woman is to conceive, so it shuts down adrenal progesterone production. Estrogen and cortisol, both signaling fat storage, remain, while you’ve lost the counterbalancing hormone that helps use fat as a fuel and also helps gets rid of excess fluid!

I believe this situation alone is a modern-day, monumental shift in female chemistry, and it can wreak havoc on a woman’s emotional and physical wellbeing. A female can go from feeling happy, healthy, balanced, and energized, with great clarity of mind and an even mood, to having a foggy brain and feeling utterly exhausted. Physically she may feel puffy, heavy, bloated and full of fluid, with a sense that her clothes are getting tighter by the minute. And that is just the first half of the cycle!

Too much estrogen

Estrogen dominance is the main biochemical basis of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which causes grief for the woman as well as those around her! When PMS occurs it can be because estrogen is dominant for all but two or three days of a 28-day cycle, meaning that progesterone gets no time to rule the roost, and a woman misses out on all of its delicious stress-busting and fat-burning qualities.

It is essential to discern whether a woman is suffering from symptoms of estrogen dominance due to excess estrogen or by significantly low progesterone levels, or both. Low progesterone typically signals that adrenal and/or ovarian production of progesterone is poor. This person may have optimal estrogen levels, yet they are challenged with their periods and/or their body fat due to low progesterone levels.

This can be done by a simple saliva or blood test. Ask your doctor.

Some remedies to balance your hormones naturally

For menstrual or reproductive system challenges

·    If you have any type of menstrual cycle or reproductive system challenges, take a four-week break from alcohol or, better still, take a break from it for two menstrual cycles. You’ll see your PMS significantly decrease.

·    If this solution is “impossible,” decrease alcohol intake to two nights a week, and preferably drink less than half a bottle of wine. I meet so many women who drink a minimum of half a bottle of wine every night. We were never designed to drink in this way. Decrease it.

·    Coffee can be another big-ticket item when it comes to PMS, via liver congestion. Consider swapping coffee for green tea for four weeks, and see how you feel.

For estrogen dominance (which can be confirmed with a saliva or a blood test)

·    Products containing broccoli sprouts.

·    Diindolylmethane (DIM), an extract of broccoli.

·    Organic green drinks: powdered/ground green vegetables and grasses that you add to water. The reason juices and smoothies aren’t listed here is that often people add too much fruit to them in an attempt to make them palatable. Good-quality, organic green powders offer concentrated sources of some key active ingredients that help support efficient liver detoxification, particularly estrogen metabolism.

·    Products containing curcumin, turmeric, or beetroot can also assist.

Note: I am all for getting what we need from our food, but, in this case, you would need to eat about eight heads of broccoli a day to get the same therapeutic effect as one good-quality capsule (from a reputable, quality-assured brand) containing broccoli sprouts or similar.

Menopause strategies

·    For hot flashes (flushes) consider whether the heat is coming from low estrogen, liver/gallbladder congestion, or both?

·    For low estrogen, black cohosh and sage can be useful.

·    For the liver/gallbladder, globe artichoke, St Mary’s thistle, bupleurum, or schisandra are excellent.

·    For adrenal support, rhodiola can be brilliant if you are also exhausted or Siberian ginseng or withania.

·    For low blood pressure, licorice is excellent.

·    Magnesium.

Our chemistry is ancient. What we ask of our body today is entirely different from what we asked of it even 50 years ago. On the one hand, it is truly remarkable what our body can do: Work 16-hour days sitting at a desk, constantly think up solutions to challenges presented during the day, meet deadlines, juggle phone calls, crises, and complaints, and hopefully also celebrate a few things along the way. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. On the other hand, we are so very far removed from the way humans have lived for 149,950 years that I believe the human body is rebelling, and one of the most obvious areas is women’s reproductive health.

To read more about the other causes of weight gain I explain in my book see this article in leading UK newspaper, The Telegraph.


About Author
Dr. Libby Weaver
Dr Libby Weaver is an internationally acclaimed nutritional biochemist, author and speaker. Armed with abundant knowledge, scientific research and a natural ability to break down even the most complex of concepts into layman's terms, Dr Libby Continue reading