When our stomach hurts or we're breaking out, we tend to blame our symptoms on something we ate or a beauty product we're using. But sometimes what's happening in our body has to do with something less obvious: our hormones. There are a number of physical signs of a hormone imbalance — some that you may not have even realized have to do with your hormones. If you're having a hard time eradicating these symptoms no matter how you tweak your health, it very well could mean your hormones are off.
"Hormones drive what you’re interested in: They influence emotion, brain chemicals, behavior, the immune system, and how you turn food into fuel," Dr. Sara Gottfried, MD author of The Hormone Cure and The Hormone Reset Diet, tells Bustle. "When your hormones are in balance, neither too high nor too low, you look and feel your best. But when they are imbalanced," you'll notice a range of symptoms that may not make you feel great.
Symptoms vary person-to-person and depend on what hormones are out of whack, but there are some key signs to watch for in your body that can indicate an imbalance and that it may be time to see your doctor. Here are seven physical signs experts say indicate that your hormones are off.
1. Hair Loss
Although it's completely common to lose between 50 to 100 hairs per day, if you're noticing more strands falling out than usual, you might want to get tested for a hormonal imbalance. "Hair loss is sign that your thyroid is off, particularly from the head, eyelashes, and outer third of the brows," says Gottfried. No need to worry though — if your thyroid is the cause, your doctor can come up with the best course of treatment to correct these symptoms for you.
2. Low Sex Drive
Not feeling very frisky lately? It may be your hormones. "About 70 percent of low libido is hormonal, related to the crosstalk between testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, and cortisol," says Gottfried. It's important to remember though that low sex drive is nothing to be ashamed of, and speaking with your OB/GYN can help you find solutions to this side effect of hormonal imbalance.
3. Cold Hands & Feet
If your extremities tend to get cold easily, there may be an issue with your thyroid. "Low thyroid function diverts resources away from nonessential activities like thermogenesis (heat production and fat burning)," says Gottfried. While typically minor, if you find this is a consistent problem for you, a trip the doctor could correct this issue.
4. Stomach Troubles
Low thyroid function can also have an affect on your digestive system. "It can also make you experience sluggish digestion, fewer bowel movements, and constipation," says Gottfried. While some changes to your digestion may be temporary, if you notice these stomach issues sticking around, see your doctor to find out if your thyroid is to blame.
Hormone issues can play a big role in how tired or energetic you feel. According to Gottfried, when your hormones are off, you can end up feeling lethargic, irritable, weepy, grumpy, unappreciated, anxious, and/or depressed. Although there are many causes for chronic fatigue, if your lack of energy is accompanied by any of these symptoms, your doctor can help you better balance your hormones.
Certain hormonal imbalances caused by issues such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), can cause acne, according to Mayo Clinic. This type of acne tends to congregate around the chin and jawline. Though acne doesn't always point to a hormonal imbalance, tell your doctor if the acne is also accompanied by irregular periods, because that could be another indicator of PCOS.
7. Irregular Periods
Hormone imbalance is one of the major causes of irregular periods. According to WebMD, PCOS and hypothyroidism (or an underactive thyroid) are two common hormone disorders that can result in irregular periods. If you notice your cycle hasn't been consistent for a few months, consult your OB/GYN to rule out these potential causes, and find solutions.
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, there's no need to panic. Talk with your doctor, who can help figure out if you have any hormonal issues and how to treat them.