7 Unexpected Things Your Body Will Do When Your Hormones Are Imbalanced
There are many slight changes in your body that can cause a huge variety of symptoms that don't necessarily seem tied together. Hormone imbalances sometimes show up this way. The symptoms of hormone imbalance can be uncomfortable, and it can take a keen eye to identify the true culprit.
Understanding how hormone imbalances work is part of the key to understanding why they can cause such a myriad of problems in your body. "A hormonal imbalance is when there is either too little or too much of a hormone circulating in your bloodstream," Rebecca Park, a registered nurse and founder of the natural health resource RemediesForMe.com, tells Bustle. "Even a slight imbalance can cause changes to your body and its functions. Hormones help regulate most bodily functions, such as metabolism, heart rate, sleep cycles, reproductive functions, growth and development, mental health and body temperature." Because your hormones are everywhere in your body, when they're off kilter the signs can creep up in a variety of ways.
Physical changes that seem unexpected likely just mean that something is off. You're used to the normal processes your body goes through, but changes to skin, digestion, and pH balance can seem particularly jarring. Luckily, most of these changes can be counteracted by reaching out to an OB/GYN and getting your hormones balanced again.
Here are seven things your body will do when your hormones are imbalanced, according to experts.
1. You May Grow Hair In Places You Usually Don't
If you are experiencing a hormonal imbalance, especially with testosterone (common in PCOS), you may notice new or excessive hair growth — beyond what is common for you.
"Excessive facial hair, beyond what is considered [typical] ... is [a] common sign of hormone imbalance," dermatologist Susan Bard, M.D., tells Bustle. "Correcting the imbalance will often times diminish the hair growth." If you notice these changes, reaching out to a doctor might help things clear up.
2. You May Experience Vaginal Dryness
"Vaginal dryness is typically brought on by low levels of estrogen," Park says. So even if you're shy, it's important to bring this issue up to a doctor. You don't deserve to be uncomfortable all the time.
3. You May Notice Hair Thinning
Since hormonal imbalances can be due to either too much or too little of certain hormones, they can often cause oppositional symptoms. So while one symptom of a hormone imbalance is hair growth, another possibly discomfiting one is hair loss.
"Early-onset female pattern balding may be a sign of hormone imbalance," Bard says. "When treated early, hair thinning can be reversed but if allowed to progress may become permanent." So if you're noticing any signs of hair loss, it's important to reach out to a doctor.
4. You Could Develop Cystic Acne
This, and acne on the chin, is a common indicator that your hormone levels may need to be checked out. "Acne is a common manifestation of hormone imbalance in young [people]," Bard says. "It is important to rebalance the hormones to control the acne to prevent any scarring, which may be permanent." Both dermatologists and OB/GYNs can help with these symptoms.
5. You May Get Recurring Yeast Infections
Yeast infections are uncomfortable, causing symptoms like thick discharge, unusual odor, and itchiness. If you keep having these infections over and over again, you may have a hormone imbalance.
"High levels of estrogen may lead to multiple yeast infections," Park says. While these infections can be treated at home if you've experienced them before, multiple in a short period of time definitely warrants a doctor's visit.
6. You Could Get Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
Waking up at night covered in sweat, or burning up during the day for no reason, can be incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing. And although these symptoms are associated with menopause, they can be caused by other hormonal changes as well.
"Estrogen levels much too high, combined with much too low progesterone levels, are likely to be the culprits," Park says. Other health problems, too, can cause these symptoms, so it's vital to get a doctor's perspective.
7. You May Need To Go To The Bathroom More (Or Less)
Constipation and diarrhea can be caused by hormonal imbalances, along with other forms of digestive problems. These changes can be especially bothersome if you have a preexisting digestive health problem.
"Flare-ups with digestive problems are common during periods," Park says. "This may be because estrogen and progesterone levels vary during this time. [Also,] thyroid hormone may ... play a part." So if you have particularly difficult periods, or notice these symptoms persisting throughout your cycle, it's important to ask a doctor for help.
Hormonal imbalances can cause symptoms that make you feel uncomfortable — both physically and emotionally. Not feeling ashamed of these changes in your body, however, can help you get to the doctor and be one step closer to the help you need. Even if the symptoms aren't something you want to discuss with everyone, they're still important to talk about with a professional.