Is your period irregular? Do you feel unusually emotional?
Are you having more aches and pains than usual? Do you have unusual hair growth?
These are all common signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance. We’ve often seen hormones catch a lot of blame for these signs. But have you ever looked into exactly which hormones are at play here or how you should work on testing and rectifying a hormonal imbalance?
Here’s a closer look at female reproductive hormones, how they work and what happens when you have either too little or too much of each.
Female Hormone: Overview
Certain female reproductive hormones like follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), prolactin and many more are crucial chemical messengers that drive several processes in your reproductive system. Their levels keep fluctuating naturally as per the body’s requirements.
However, if the levels remain extremely high or low for a long duration, it can bring about serious changes in your body.1 For example, you may start experiencing symptoms like painful or irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, acne, and hair loss.
Let’s learn more about the different female hormones, the consequences of an imbalance in their levels, and some diagnostic and treatment options for the same.
Some Common Hormones In Women
Here are some common female hormones that regulate your reproductive health:
1. Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
Follicle Stimulating Hormone plays an integral part in the sexual development and reproductive process. It controls the menstrual cycles as well as stimulates the growth of eggs in the ovaries.2
There is a rise in FSH during the first half of the menstrual cycle which stimulates the follicular growth in the ovary. Once the egg is ovulated, the progesterone levels in the body increase. It is an ovarian hormone that plays a role in the implantation of the embryo and maintaining the pregnancy during the early stages.3 Progesterone inhibits the release of FSH until the start of a new menstrual cycle.4
2. Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
Luteinizing Hormone is the next essential reproductive hormone. LH works in synergy with FSH and regulates the function of the ovaries. During the initial weeks of the menstrual cycle, LH stimulates the ovarian follicles to produce estradiol, a female sex hormone.5 Midway through the menstrual cycle, an LH surge (a rapid increase of LH in the blood) causes the release of the egg from the ovary, resulting in ovulation.6
3. Prolactin (PRL)
The hormone Prolactin is also made by the pituitary gland. Its primary function is to promote lactation or milk production and breast development in mammals.7 In addition, the hormone has also been found to be involved in processes like body-weight control, and hair and skin metabolism. PRL also plays a role in adrenal response to stress, maternal behaviour, and metabolic homeostasis (maintaining a steady metabolism rate in the body).8
Apart from these three hormones, other primary female hormones include the anti-mullerian hormone, estradiol, thyroid hormones (TSH and fT4), and testosterone. Testing their levels at regular intervals can help you keep track of your reproductive health status, ovarian reserve and proper function of glands like the thyroid and pituitary.
Signs Of Hormonal Imbalance In Women
Our body indicates hormonal imbalance through multiple signs and symptoms. You can pay close attention to your body’s signals and keep a regular check on hormone levels in the body. An imbalance in the female hormones may cause:
a) Irregular And Painful Menstrual Cycle
The menstrual cycle can tell a lot about your reproductive health and hormones. If you are experiencing painful, overly heavy cycles or missed periods, it could be caused by conditions like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or Primary Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). PCOS affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.9 Whereas, only 5-10% of women with POI conceive naturally.10 What’s more? PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women.9 An irregular period can also be a sign of an imbalance of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).11
b) Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
Do you frequently experience random hot flashes or wake up covered in sweat at night? These signs are a big red flag for hormonal imbalance. They can be a result of a disturbance of the intricate balance between the ovarian, thyroid, adrenal or pancreatic hormones.12 So, get yourself tested as soon as possible if you experience these symptoms.
c) Chronic Adult Acne
Hormonal acne is more common in women than in men.13 Adult acne is usually caused by high levels of androgens like testosterone in women. You can consult a dermatologist and find suitable treatment options that can tame the acne and soothe your sensitive skin.
d) Persistent Weight Gain Or Loss
One of the many unpleasant and frustrating symptoms of hormonal imbalance is weight gain or difficulty losing weight. Many women experience this problem despite exercising 4-5 times per week and watching their calorie intake. This can be attributed to overworked adrenal glands or PCOS-related female hormonal imbalance.14
In addition to that, the thyroid-stimulating hormone is known to have a complex relationship with metabolism and body weight.15 Hypothyroidism (decreased thyroid hormone levels) has traditionally been associated with obesity. Whereas hyperthyroidism (elevated thyroid hormone levels) has been associated with being underweight.16
Keeping track of these hormones can help you gauge the root cause of persistent weight gain or loss.
How Do You Treat Hormonal Imbalance?
Fortunately, advances in the healthcare industry have found ways around most of these hormonal imbalances. You can now learn a whole lot about your hormone levels through a simple at-home test. LifeCell offers OvaScore, an extensive female hormone test that analyses 9 female reproductive hormones. Not just that, the test can provide insights on whether you are at risk of being affected by conditions like PCOS, Primary Ovarian Insufficiency, hyperprolactinemia and more based on your hormone levels. With OvaScore, you can get reliable physician-approved reports within 3-5 working days and seek the appropriate treatment at the right time.
However, it is also important to evaluate your lifestyle and make the necessary changes. Eating better, regular exercises, stress management techniques and sufficient sleep are some of the positive lifestyle changes to consider. Speak to your doctor before you make any changes concerning medication, diet or exercise.
Whether or not you’re experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance, it is best to be armed with information so that you can detect any problems early on. Learn to listen to your body and take care of it. LifeCell’s OvaScore helps you do just that by helping you track your ovarian reserve (number of eggs in your ovaries), identify hormonal imbalance and more. With this test, you will get a comprehensive report which will help you stay on top of your reproductive health at all times. Curious to know more? Call 18002662300.