As women, our hormones define us. As I touch on in What Doctors Eat, from adolescence to menopause, the rhythm of our hormones can dictate our mood, energy, beauty, and general sense of well-being. Yet I am continually surprised that the role of hormones in women’s health is often minimized and how we, as women, are left confused about what’s going on in our bodies.
Before you brush off these health issues as just an unfortunate part of normal life, listen to your body and consider that they could be signs that your body is in hormone havoc.
With everyone rushing and running around, feeling “tired” seems to be an accepted way of life. Feeling tired, however, can be a sign of a change in your hormone levels. I have heard women describe fatigue in so many different ways. “I cannot get out of bed in the morning,” or “I crash in the afternoons,” are common complaints from my patients. Bottom line: if you notice a change in your energy levels, don’t dismiss it. Get your hormone levels checked. Your thyroid, insulin, estrogen, progesterone, and adrenal hormones can all be involved in fatigue.
For many, that fatigue is also linked to a change in your sleep. Hormones regulate sleep patterns, and many women battle sleep disturbances with changing hormone levels. Low progesterone levels are known for triggering that classic 3 a.m. insomnia, while low estrogen levels can be responsible for the hot flashes and night sweats that interrupt a restful night’s sleep. Counting too many sheep is a sign that it is time to reevaluate your hormones!
If your loved ones notice a change in your mood, it may be more than just a bad day at work or terrible traffic that has you feeling irritable. Instead, it could be a hormone shift turning even the most even-tempered woman into a screaming monster. Many women notice changes in their mood that directly correlate with specific points in their menstrual cycle. Premenstrual crying and irritability are not necessarily anxiety or depression, but instead an untreated hormone imbalance.
Your hair tells your hormone story. Changes in hair density or texture, along with hair loss, are indicators of hormone disturbances. Thinning at the crown can be a sign of a thyroid disturbance, while thinning at the temples is often from low progesterone or estrogen levels. If you notice each strand of hair getting thinner, you may have too many androgens, or the hormone DHT, in your system.
While all women are concerned about their weight, sudden changes in weight are another key sign of hormone havoc. Weight gain in the abdomen or arms can be a sign of insulin resistance. Heaviness in the breasts is often connected to estrogen levels and weight in the hips andthighs may be tied to your thyroid. Check out my Summer Body Fat to better help you connect your weight and your hormones.
Learning to connect your hormones with your health helps you stay vibrant, energetic, and healthy. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor and get your hormone levels checked.