Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance in Women
Hot flashes are a sudden, transient sensation of warmth or heat that spreads over the body, creating a flushing, or redness, that is particularly noticeable on the face and upper body. The experience of hot flashes can range between delicate flushes and a sensation of engulfing flames. Hot flashes result from the body’s reaction to a decreased supply of the hormone estrogen, which occurs naturally as women approach menopause. About 75 to 85% of American women are estimated to experience hot flashes during menopause.
Night sweats are classified as severe hot flashes that occur during sleep accompanied by intense bouts of sweating. Also known as “sleep hyperhidrosis”, night sweats aren’t actually a sleep disorder, but a common perspiration disorder that occurs during sleep in menopausal women. These episodes of nighttime sweating can range in severity from mild to intense, and can be caused by hormonal imbalance combined with environmental factors, such as an excessively warm sleeping environment.
Most women will experience absent, short, or irregular periods at some point in their lives. A wide range of conditions can cause irregular periods, though during perimenopause the most common cause is hormonal imbalance. Periods may come earlier or later than before; bleeding may be lighter or heavier than usual; and periods may be brief or go on for what feels like an eternity. Skipping periods and “spotting” – bleeding between periods – are also common symptoms of hormonal imbalance.
Menstrual irregularity is most common in a woman in her mid-40’s as she approaches menopause; the most likely cause of this is hormonal imbalance caused by decreasing levels of estrogen and progesterone.
Loss of Libido
Everyone experiences peaks and valleys in sexual desire, an ebb and flow in libido that could be caused by any of a variety of factors. However, for women going through menopause, this sudden drop in desire for sexual activity or intimacy can be troubling. In menopausal women, the main cause of low sex drive is hormonal imbalance, predominantly androgen deficiency. Loss of libido can also be caused by other menopause symptoms themselves, such as vaginal dryness or depression, or by prescription drugs, including medication prescribed to treat menopause symptoms.
Menopausal mood swings are surprisingly common, but can be hard to cope with. A woman experiencing mood swings may feel like she is on a rollercoaster of emotions: one minute she’s up, the next minute she’s down. Mood swings can be sudden and intense, although the experience of them may differ from woman to woman.
Chronic and severe mood swings are a psychological disorder, a health problem every bit as real as a physical ailment. They are caused primarily by hormonal imbalances; when production of the hormone estrogen drops, so too does the production of mood-regulating neurotransmitters, resulting in mood swings
Fatigue, one of the most common menopause symptoms, is defined as an ongoing and persistent feeling of weakness, tiredness, and lowered energy levels, rather than just sleepiness or drowsiness. Other characteristics of fatigue may include apathy, irritability, and decreased attention span. Crashing fatigue is a phenomenon which comes on suddenly, leaving a woman devoid of energy and unable to continue her activity.
Fatigue in menopause is caused by hormonal changes; hormones such as estrogen regulate energy use at a cellular level, so when hormone levels drops during menopause, so too do energy levels.
Vaginal dryness occurs when the usually moist and soft feeling of the lining of the vagina disappears, bringing about symptoms such as itchiness and irritation. When estrogen levels drop during perimenopause, the vaginal tissue becomes drier, thinner, and less elastic. Lack of lubrication leads to sex becoming uncomfortable, and the vagina is frequently itchy, easily irritated, and more prone to infections
Hair Loss or Thinning
Hair loss, one of the most physically noticeable menopause symptoms, is caused by estrogen deficiency, because hair follicles need estrogen to sustain hair growth. Hair loss may be sudden or gradual, or manifest as thinning hair on the head or other parts of the body, including the pubic area. Hair may also become drier and more brittle, and may fall out more while brushing or in the shower.
Gradual hair loss or thinning of hair without any accompanying symptoms is common; however, for many women this symptom is upsetting, as it is a visible sign of aging. There are ways to treat the underlying hormonal imbalance in order to halt hair loss during menopause.
Waking many times during the night, tossing and turning, and insomnia, are all sleep disorders connected with menopause. Women going through menopause may find that their sleep is less restful and that getting to sleep becomes increasingly difficult. Research indicates that women begin to experience restless sleep as many as five to seven years before entering menopause
In the lead-up to menopause, many women are concerned to find they have trouble remembering things, experience mental blocks, or have difficulty concentrating. This can be confusing or worrying for women, and can have a big impact on all aspects of daily life. The main reason why these symptoms occur during menopause is hormonal imbalance, specifically estrogen deficiency. However, not getting enough sleep or sleep disruptions can also contribute to memory problems and cause difficulty concentrating, as well as the nagging pain of other physiological menopause symptoms.
Irritability is a pervading “bad mood” characterized by feelings of stress, reduced patience and tolerance, and lashing out in anger or frustration over matters that may seem trivial to others. Irritability during menopause is most often caused by hormonal changes, whereby low levels of circulating estrogen have an adverse effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for regulating mood