Possible Causes of Hormone Imbalances
I've posted a lot over on my Instagram about signs and symptoms of hormone imbalances and what types of things might be associated with this, such as acne, PMS, PCOS, endometriosis and infertility. Whilst the first step to supporting hormone imbalances is recognising these signs and symptoms, the next step is understanding the WHY. Here's where I come in! As a nutritionist, it's my job to get to the root cause of your symptoms. I will look at your medical history to understand what your trigger was and what might be driving your symptoms now.
Here's a few key causes that I might be looking at:
1. Contraception history
This is an important consideration as often contraception masks symptoms. It's not uncommon for women to experience hormone imbalances as a result of coming off of contraception and so you may need a little more help to get your hormones back in check.
2. Family medical history
It's important to understand if you have any history of hormone imbalances, diabetes, cancers, PCOS, endometriosis, infertility etc in the family. Genetics and lifestyle/environmental factors often run in families so ask your close family members about this to gain more of an insight and understanding about whether this is something that runs in the family.
This can sabotage our HPG axis (hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis). Our hormones need to be kept in a fine balance (homeostasis) and hyper secretion of cortisol (our stress hormone), adrenaline and noradrenaline can throw things off kilter. If we are constantly in 'fight or flight' mode then this can have such a huge impact on our hormone balance as it stimulates blood sugar release, inhibits digestion, growth and reproduction as well as immune function.
4. Low or high body weight
Under eating as well as over eating is not supportive of hormone balance. A BMI under 20 causes the body to shift its priorities and making hormones is bottom of the list unfortunately. Due to evolution, this is recognised by the body as a time of 'famine', and so it will conserve its energy and nutrients for other functions. A BMI of over 25 can result in excess hormones due to fat stores (particularly those around the middle) actually producing hormones that we don't need. In addition, our appetite and satiety hormones (ghrelin and leptin) can become dysregulated.
5. Gut issues
Bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, pain, poor digestion, wind, reflux, IBS, IBD? The list is endless! Gut issues come up time and time again in my clinic and it can be the root cause of many hormone imbalances. Our gut microbiome influences many body processes and so its important to support good gut health with the right foods, nutrients and practices to optimise our friendly bacteria. It's important to get to the root cause of gut issues themselves too - often this is a sensitivity or lifestyle factor that needs to be addressed.