It’s a phrase we often use to excuse mood swings that leave us seething with anger one minute and sobbing the next, but there may be more to it than just “feeling hormonal.”
According to nutritionist Gail Madalena, hormones are vital chemical messengers that signal information between our cells and organs.
“They are necessary for all systems in our body to function,” he says.
So you can imagine how important it is for them to be in top condition.
What if we told you that those mood swings could signal a hormonal imbalance?
If you eat healthily, exercise, get enough sleep, and still feel dull, you may need help.
Here are the subtle signs to watch out for and how to get tested …
When to take the test
If you are experiencing symptoms or are concerned about your hormonal health, talk to your GP.
They may send you a blood test or test to see how well your thyroid gland, which produces and stores hormones, is working to provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
If you are in perimenopause or menopause, ask about hormone replacement therapy.
Home kits for testing progesterone, testosterone and thyroid are available online and offer peace of mind quickly, even if they can be expensive. Try the Superdrug Online Doctor’s Thyroid Function Test Kit, $ 78.
If you have lower belly weight that won’t shift even with regular exercise and a balanced diet, a hormonal imbalance could be to blame.
“An underactive thyroid causes many bodily functions to slow down, including metabolism and digestion. A common side effect of this is weight gain, particularly in the stomach, ”says Gail.
Excessive amounts of the stress hormone cortisol can put the body into survival mode, causing it to store even more fat.
Hungry for more
Are you feeling ravenous 24/7? Your sex hormones may be out of sync.
“A low estrogen level can make you feel 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 determines the amount of fat stored in the body.
“The more we produce, the more excess fat we tend to store.”
Mood swings can really turn your life upside down and happen to the best of us.
But if your mood is low and you can’t figure out why, you may be short of serotonin, the happiness hormone.
“As we ovulate, estrogen and progesterone levels drop, causing both physical and emotional symptoms.
“This drop in hormones can also affect serotonin production, which regulates mood, sleep and appetite,” says Gail.
Losing the locks
When the thyroid is functioning poorly, it can reduce the regrowth rate of our hair, as well as make it dry, brittle and weak.
“A key hormone for hair production is DHT, a byproduct of testosterone. When we make too much of it, it can shrink the follicles and cause hair to fall out, ”says Gail.
“A drop in estrogen and progesterone can also affect the hairline and hair thickness.”
Hit the postponement
If every day seems like a hassle, even if you sleep a lot, you may be experiencing hormonal imbalance rather than chronic fatigue.
“Having too much or too little progesterone can weaken your energy, as can high estrogen levels and have an underactive thyroid.
“Too much cortisol can also affect sleep cycles and lead to continued fatigue,” says Gail.
Feeling dizzy, weak knees, and blurred vision are all signs that something is wrong.
“Low estrogen levels trigger fluctuations in blood flow,” says Gail.
“This can cause lightheadedness and dizziness.
“Hormonal imbalances can also have a direct impact on blood sugar metabolism and blood pressure, as well as problems related to our inner ear, all of which cause dizziness.”
“The thyroid helps regulate neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin.
“When it’s unbalanced, this can inhibit brain activity, leading to fog and low mood,” says Gail.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.