Signs and Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance

How would you know if you had a hormone imbalance? Most of the women I see already have an inkling that something is out of balance by the symptoms that they are experiencing:

  • Hair loss
  • Acne
  • Irregular periods
  • Night sweats
  • Hot flashes
  • Infertility
  • Heavy periods
  • Painful periods
  • Fibroids
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Uterine polyps
  • Excessive facial or body hair
  • PMS
  • Premenstrual migraines

Most often they have already visited their family doctor who “checked their hormones” and told them “everything is normal” or offered them the birth control pill.

There are three main problems here:

  1. By checked their hormones, most doctors mean they’ve done a very superficial screening of hormones, LH, FSH, maybe estradiol and maybe progesterone, but often not measured on specific dates of the menstrual cycle that make the results clinically meaningful.
  2. When “everything is normal” even though you feel that hormones are imbalanced, it’s because the “normal” ranges for hormones are extremely wide and so even abnormal people fall into the “normal” range.
  3. Birth control pills only mask the existing hormone imbalance, they don’t correct it.

If you feel like you have a hormone imbalance, always ask for a copy of blood work results so that you can see exactly how extensive testing was and exactly where your results fall in the “normal” range (normal is always in quotes because lab ranges rarely refer to what is actually normal, it is more often an average of unhealthy people).  99% of the time you will find that either: a) only a very few hormones have been tested and/or b) one or more of your results were borderline.

Endometriosis and IBS

These two often seem to go hand in hand and it’s difficult to differentiate whether the gut issue is part of the endometriosis or a separate entity. In one study, 29% of endometriosis patients had either IBS or constipation.

Here are potential links between endometriosis and the gut:

1. Adhesions – abdominal tissue stuck together and not functioning normally due to endometriosis
2. Gluten sensitivity has been linked to both IBS and endometriosis
3. Endometriosis tissue adhering to the gut and causing gut irritation or inflammation
4. Ovarian hormones affect sensorimotor gastrointestinal function, modulate pain, and modulate susceptibility to stress. So the same imbalances that are causing or contributing to endometriosis can also be causing IBS symptoms.
5. Gut dysbiosis – overgrowth of unhealthy microorganisms in the gut can disrupt the ability to excrete excess estrogen and create more inflammation in the gut. An inflamed gut will increase endometriosis related abdominal pain.

Naturopathically we can address all of these issues, improving gut health, hormone balance and endometriosis.

Sources:
1. World J Gastroenterol. 2014 Jun 14;20(22):6725-43. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v20.i22.6725.
Gender-related differences in irritable bowel syndrome: potential mechanisms of sex hormones.
Meleine M, Matricon J.
2. Colorectal Dis. 2011 Jan;13(1):67-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2009.02055.x.
Irritable bowel syndrome and chronic constipation in patients with endometriosis.
Meurs-Szojda MM1, Mijatovic V, Felt-Bersma RJ, Hompes PG.