It’s a phrase we often use to excuse mood swings that have us boiling with rage one minute and sobbing the next – but there could be more to it than just “feeling hormonal.”
According to nutritionist Gail Madalena, hormones are vital chemical messengers that pass information between our cells and organs.
“They are necessary for the functioning of all systems in our body,” she says.
So you can imagine how important it is for them to be in top condition.
What if we told you that these mood swings could signal a hormonal imbalance?
If you are eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and still feeling unwell, you may need help.
Here are the subtle signs to look out for and how to get tested…
When to get tested
If you experience symptoms or are concerned about your hormonal health, talk to your GP.
They may send you for a blood test or a test to see how well your thyroid gland – which makes and stores hormones – is working, to give an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
If you are in perimenopause or menopause, ask about HRT.
Home kits for testing progesterone, testosterone and thyroid are available online and offer quick peace of mind, although they can be expensive. Try Superdrug Online Doctor’s Thyroid Function Test Kit, $78.
If you have a lower belly weight that won’t change even with regular exercise and a balanced diet, hormonal imbalance may be to blame.
“An underactive thyroid causes many bodily functions to slow down, including metabolism and digestion. A common side effect is weight gain, especially in the stomach,” says Gail.
Too much cortisol, the stress hormone, can put the body into survival mode, causing it to store even more fat.
hungry for more
Do you feel hungry 24/7? Your sex hormones could be out of sync.
“Low estrogen can make you constantly hungry, even after eating, because estrogen has a direct impact on leptin,” says Gail.
“Leptin is released by fat cells and regulates how many calories we burn and how much we eat, which in turn dictates how much fatty tissue the body stores.
“The more we produce, the more excess fat we tend to store.”
Mood swings can really disrupt your life, and they happen to the best of us.
But if your mood is low and you don’t know why, you might be lacking serotonin, the happiness hormone.
“At the time of ovulation, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, leading to physical and emotional symptoms.
“This drop in hormones can also influence the production of serotonin, which regulates mood, sleep and appetite,” Gail explains.
Lose your locks
When the thyroid is functioning suboptimally, it can reduce the rate at which our hair regrows, in addition to making it dry, brittle and weak.
“A key hormone for hair production is DHT, a byproduct of testosterone. When we produce too much of it, it can shrink follicles and cause hair to fall out,” Gail explains.
“A drop in estrogen and progesterone can also affect hairline and hair thickness.”
Hitting the nap
If every day feels tedious, even though you sleep a lot, you may be suffering from a hormonal imbalance rather than chronic fatigue.
“Having too much or too little progesterone can sap your energy, as can high estrogen levels and an underactive thyroid.
“Too much cortisol can also impact sleep cycles and lead to ongoing fatigue,” says Gail.
Feeling your head spinning, weak knees, and blurred vision are all signs that something is wrong.
“Low levels of estrogen trigger fluctuations in blood flow,” Gail explains.
“It can cause dizziness and lightheadedness.
“Hormonal imbalances can also directly impact our blood sugar metabolism and blood pressure, as well as problems with our inner ear, all of which cause dizziness.”
“The thyroid helps regulate neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin.
“When out of balance, it can inhibit brain activity, leading to fogginess and low mood,” Gail explains.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.
New York Post