There’s no doubt about it — natural hormonal changes can be pretty difficult to deal with. Women in their 50s may find themselves with an ice pack on their forehead during menopausal hot flashes, for example. Fluctuations such as these happen to all of us throughout life due to age, exercise habits, and the foods we eat. There’s nothing wrong with a hormonal flux here and there, but a true imbalance can have severe consequences.
For women, low estrogen or progesterone levels can cause issues, while low testosterone can be troublesome for men, says Medical Daily. Both men and women should be aware of symptoms when their hormones go wild, so take note. It might be time to tackle the problem head-on and visit the doctor if these look familiar.
1. Memory problems
Finding it difficult to remember the name of your new co-worker who has introduced themselves three times already? Your hormones could be to blame. According to WebMD, experts believe progesterone and estrogen changes can cause hormone-induced brain fog. For women who are menopausal or approaching menopause, this could be an even bigger issue, as fluctuating hormone levels may cause unclear thinking.
Try a little yoga or eating your veggies to clear your head.
Next: Fighting with your bathroom scale?
2. Weight gain
You’re eating clean, going to the gym, and ready to hop on the scale. Surprise! You’ve gained a pound or two since your last weigh-in. While a poor diet and little exercise can lead to weight gain over the years, a hormonal imbalance may also pack on extra pounds. Jill Coleman, C.P.T., tells Prevention your hormones play a key role in determining your hunger, cravings, and motivation to exercise. When your hormones are balanced, your metabolism will function properly as well, which helps keep your weight in a healthy range.
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3. Night sweats
There’s nothing more uncomfortable than rising from your slumber sweaty. Both men and women may experience night sweats as a side effect of a hormone imbalance. For women, hot flashes occur at night when progesterone levels are low and estrogen levels rise, says Medical Daily. Additionally, rising cortisol levels due to stress can lower progesterone even more. If there was ever a good reason to take your stress levels down a notch, this may be it.
Next: Is your sex life in trouble?
4. Low sex drive
While most couples attribute a fizzling sex life to a loss of connection, many women can blame their low libido on their hormones. Dr. Sara Gottfried, M.D., explains the root cause of a low sex drive in 70% of cases is a hormonal imbalance. While rising stress levels and an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone can be the culprit for females, fluctuating testosterone levels could also be problematic.
Next: Your mental health may be at risk
If you notice you’ve been feeling upset, irritable, and anxious for no known reason and you don’t have a history of mental illness, consider asking your doctor about the possibility of a hormonal imbalance. According to Clinical-Depression.co.uk, too much cortisol and adrenaline may lead to depression, as those who have this mental disorder are found to have an increased level of these hormones in their blood.
Try meditating or starting a new exercise regimen to keep stress at bay (and to keep those bad thoughts about your ex at bay, too).
Next: This is why you feel tired 24/7
If you’ve been getting your eight hours of sleep in and you’re still bringing a 16-ounce jug of coffee to every meeting, this is a sign your hormones are imbalanced. BodyLogicMD explains an imbalance can make women feel tired. For many women, fatigue occurs around the time of menopause, as this is when hormone levels are in flux.
Next: An explanation for how big your belly feels right now
Bloating is the magic trick none of us asked for. It adds pounds to the scale, inches to our waistlines, and can come and go without warning. Many women report feeling bloated around the time of their period, but fluid retention can be a constant problem for those who have a hormone imbalance. Nanette Santoro, M.D., the reproductive endocrinologist and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, tells Shape an imbalance involving progesterone is likely the reason your body is holding onto that water for dear life. Changes in hormones can also disrupt the digestive system, which can lead to gas and constipation.
In general, high-fat meals take longer to digest, and cruciferous veggies and carbonated drinks can make your situation worse. While you sort out the hormone issue, avoid foods like these so you don’t have an even bigger problem.
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Headaches occur for many reasons. It could be your work stress contributing to the pounding in your skull, or perhaps your family’s medical history has something to do with it. Unfortunately, Mayo Clinic explains headaches can signal hormone fluctuations, which is why many women have them before their period or during pregnancy or menopause.
Some women find hormonal contraception to be effective in curing their chronic headaches, as it minimizes the drop in estrogen that naturally occurs around that time of the month. Talk to your doctor about your options.
Next: How your testosterone levels affect your efforts at the gym
9. Muscle loss
Hitting the gym daily and still feeling like the scrawniest lifter of the bunch? In this case, your hormones may be the source of your frustration. An imbalance involving too little testosterone in the body can lead to muscle loss, possible weight gain, and a loss in bone density, says Bodybuilding.com. While we typically associate testosterone with men, women can have an imbalance in this hormone as well. Age and stress have a lot to do with dropping testosterone levels.
Since you can only fix one of these, we suggest lowering your stress levels ASAP.
Next: Doctors don’t know what causes this painful condition, but it could be hormonal.
10. Pelvic pain from endometriosis
Most women are familiar with cramping during their monthly cycle, but endometriosis is a bigger concern. According to Women to Women, endometriosis, which often causes severe pelvic pain, occurs when the type of tissue that lines the uterus during a menstrual cycle grows outside of the uterus and into other areas of the body. Every month, this tissue also releases a small amount of blood during a woman’s menstrual cycle, which can irritate the surrounding tissue and cause scarring to the reproductive organs.
The cause of endometriosis is unknown, but excess estrogen is thought to contribute. There’s also another compound that has a structure similar to estrogen called xenoestrogen, and it can contribute to the imbalance. Ladies, if you notice lasting pelvic pain, discomfort during sex, or excessive bloating, take note. It may be worth bringing up to your doctor in case endometriosis is the issue.
Read More: 10 Signs That You Need Your Thyroid Checked
Additional reporting by Meg Dowell