7 Things That Can Happen To Your Body When Your Hormones Are Out Of Whack
Hormones play a huge role in making sure your body is functioning properly and running smoothly. So when your hormones are out of whack, you're likely to notice a change whether it's physical or not. Being aware of the many different affects hormones can have on your body can help you get the necessary treatment you need.
We know hormones are important, but just how important are they? As Dr. Prudence Hall, M.D. author of Radiant Again & Forever, tells Bustle, you should think of hormones as your body's software. "Hormones perform vital functions, such as beating your heart, allowing the neurons to connect, and maintaining your blood pressure," Dr. Hall says. In fact, every function in the body is backed by some type of hormone. If we run out of hormones, She says, "we would live less than 24 hours."
That's because these chemicals basically act as messengers that carry important information through the blood stream and to the right recipient. It helps certain organs grow and develop, and gives signals to parts of the body to become active or turn off. "Without hormones, your body wouldn’t know what to do," Dr. Tania Elliott, Allergist, Internist, and Chief Medical Officer at EHE, tells Bustle.
When your hormones are out of balance, it can cause a number of different health issues from heart disease to diabetes to depression. So here's a breakdown of some of the things that can happen to your body when your hormones are out of whack, according to experts.
1. You May Have Food Cravings
Grehlin is a hunger hormone that can cause you to eat too much when it becomes overactive, Dr. Elliot says. But getting a good night's rest can help put it back in check. "Studies have shown that if you sleep in pitch black, melatonin (the sleep hormone) gets up-regulated or increases, and your hunger hormone (grehlin) gets down-regulated (less active)," she says. After a good night’s sleep you should wake up feeling a lot less hungry.
2. You May Have An Increased Risk Of Infertility
Having a good balance of sex hormones such as progesterone and estrogen are what makes pregnancy possible. Since all these different hormones work together, even the slightest imbalance of just one can impact your ability to get pregnant. "The first sign of an issue is irregular periods," Dr. Elliot says. If you've been trying for a while with no luck, an imbalance of hormones can be the cause. But instead of guessing, she says it's important to see a doctor to determine which hormones are out of whack. "Sometimes it’s not a sex hormone at all," she says. It could be the result of a thyroid hormone issue. "Hormones are highly connected," Dr. Elliot says. "If one signal doesn’t get transmitted, it can have a whole host of downstream effects." So talk to your doctor if this is a concern.
3. You May Feel Much More Emotional Than Usual
Feelings of being disconnected, loneliness, and depression can all stem from imbalanced hormones. While a number of different hormones can be the cause of these symptoms, Certified Women's Health and Nutrition Coach, Audrey Sourroubille Arnold, tells Bustle, she tends to look at the levels of cortisol ("the stress hormone"), progesterone, oestrogen, androgens / testosterone, and thyroid function when mood changes occur. "Hormonal imbalances have different root causes," she says. "There’s a genetic component, but most of all we’re not aware of how our daily life affects us and our hormones." One of the best way to handle imbalances that can lead to mood or emotional issues is to maintain a healthy lifestyle around eating right and getting enough exercise.
4. You May Have Adult Acne
Hormonal or adult acne is common in women and is defined as acne that develops at or around age 25. As board-certified dermatologist, Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, FAAD, tells Bustle, it shows up as tender, painful, inflammatory bumps and deep cysts under the skin. "They often do not reach the skin surface and can be difficult to manage with topical treatment alone," Dr. Shainhouse says. Unlike acne that you get in your teens, this is associated with inflammation. It's hormone-induced and can flare throughout the menstrual cycle. Women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) have an excess amount of hormones circulating, so they're more prone to getting hormonal acne along with excess facial and body hair, and irregular ovulation. "Making the diagnosis for PCOS is important because these women are at an increased risk for insulin insensitivity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol/lipids and fertility issues," she says. "Acne is usually managed well with specific birth control pills and spironolactone."
5. Your Liver May Not Process Insulin Correctly
The many hormones in your body work together in some pretty surprising ways. For instance, an imbalance of sex hormones can not only affect things like your cycle or fertility, but it can impact your liver's ability to function properly. "[For patients with PCOS], I always start my patients on a protocol designed to clear their liver first, because one of its main functions in the body is to break down insulin and other hormones, as well as toxins," Dr. Ann Marie Barter, DC, of Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic, tells Bustle. The liver also converts estrogen to compounds that can be excreted by the body as waste. If your liver isn't able to process insulin correctly, you may have issues regulating your blood sugar, which can lead to problems such as diabetes. "I know it sounds strange to treat the liver and gut for what many think of as a strictly a 'reproductive system' issue, but all of our systems work in tandem (or, they should)," she says. "The body has an amazing ability to do its job properly with a little help and support."
6. You May Experience Hair Loss Or Excessive Hair Growth
Women who suffer from PCOS may see an increased production of the male sex hormone androgen. Worst case scenario, it can cause infertility. As Dr. Jennifer Christian, DC, of Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic, tells Bustle, dysregulated hormones can also cause hair issues such as hair loss, thinning, or growth in places you may not have had hair previously.
7. You May Have Digestive Issues
"Typically, when people refer to hormones being out of whack, they are referring to women's reproductive hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone," Dr. Nini Mai, founder and clinical director or Evolve Health + Wellness, tells Bustle. These two hormones fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle and an imbalance can cause problems with your period, PMS, and even digestive symptoms like constipation.
According to Shannon Conklin, National Board Certified Colon Hydrotherapist, "If estrogen is low, cortisol levels will rise and slow down your digestive system." Progesterone can also cause your colon to slow down. If you tend to feel slightly constipated right before your period, it's likely due to your levels of progesterone rising and dropping.
If you have major changes happening to your body, it's always important to discuss with your doctor to see if hormones are the cause. As you can see, hormones can affect your body in some surprising ways. Other than that, keeping your hormones balanced isn't too hard. According to Dr. Mai, the best ways to rebalance your reproductive hormones is to exercise and increase your water and fiber intake.