Hormonal imbalance can cause insomnia, fatigue, irregular periods, hot flashes, mood swings, lack of focus, decreased libido, infertility, depression and headaches. Often, they can be the root of thyroid dysfunction, skin problems, hair loss, autoimmune disorders, weight gain, osteoporosis, irritability, anxiety, memory loss and even allergies.
Our body is constantly trying to keep us in equilibrium, but sometimes when there is disfunction or stress in the body things can go off balance. Are you balanced like the stones piled on the left or do you feel like you are constantly trying to hold it all together like the stones on the right?
The biggest culprit for creating an imbalance in hormones is STRESS!
Your central nervous system (CNS) is in charge of your “fight or flight” response. In your brain the hypothalamus gets the ball rolling, telling your adrenal glands to release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. When we are in a state of fight and flight blood is diverted to muscles, the heart and other organs, but away from the digestive system. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone that your adrenal glands produce and release. Glucocorticoids are a type of steroid hormone with the function to;
- Regulate the body's stress response.
- Release glucose from the liver for fast energy during times of stress.
- Regulate the metabolism by controlling the body's use of fat, carbohydrates and protein
- Suppress inflammation when released in short spurts. However if the cortisol level is consistently high the body gets used to having too much and this can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system.
- Regulates blood pressure. Elevated cortisol levels increase blood pressure.
- Increasing and regulate blood sugar by controlling the insulin production and release in the pancreas. High cortisol levels can lead to high blood sugar levels and this can cause type 2 diabetes.
- Helps to control your sleep wake cycle, by normally having low levels of cortisol in the evening to help you sleep and peak levels in the morning before waking to get you ready fo the day. If levels are not regulated this can lead to sleep problems.
Chronic stress is also a factor in behaviours such as overeating or not eating enough, alcohol or drug abuse, and social withdrawal. For women, stress can affect the menstrual cycle, it can lead to irregular, heavier, or more painful periods and chronic stress can also magnify the physical symptoms of menopause.
So you can see that your cortisol levels have a big impact on your whole body. Optimum cortisol levels are necessary for life and for maintaining several bodily functions. If you have consistently high or low cortisol levels, it can have negative impacts on your overall health.
If you are suffering with hormone imbalance first take a look at your level of stress, is there anything you can do to reduce or manage your response to stress? Sometimes it is not always possible to remove the stress if you have stuff going on, but consider are there things you can do to support your body to reduce the effects of stress.