How does hormonal imbalance affect women?

How does hormonal imbalance affect women?

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Hormonal health plays a crucial role in a woman's overall wellbeing. There are many health issues associated or made worse by fluctuating or imbalanced hormones. This includes mood changes, weight changes, acne, changes in menstruation, hair loss, infertility, low sex drive, as well as gut and liver issues.

The endocrine system, responsible for hormone production and regulation, is complex. Any imbalance can have a domino effect on other hormones as well as our overall health. However, the number of factors to consider can make it very difficult to identify the ultimate cause of hormone related problems.

This article offers educational insights into the common hormonal issues women experience from menstruation through to menopause, encouraging proactive health management.

Recognising changes in menstruation

While some fluctuations in menstruation are normal, it's essential to seek medical advice if you notice changes in discharge, menstruation, abnormal bleeding, bloating, or pain, including pain during and after sex.

Irregular Periods

On average most women have a cycle of 28 to 30 days but this can vary from between 24 and 38 days. An irregular period is defined as a break in your normal pattern, such as frequency, length, or absent periods. There are many causes, including diet, stress, and overexercising, as well as medical conditions that can happen as women move to menopause.


Menorrhagia is a medical term for heavy periods as well as periods that may last longer than usual. Heavy periods, also known as flooding, is where you must change your sanitary products at least every 2 hours. You may also experience passing clots. During this time, it is common to feel fatigue, which can hinder everyday activities. This can be made worse as you may also feel anxious about bleeding through your clothes or bedding. Additionally, heavy periods can lead to anaemia (iron deficiency) so it’s important to see your GP for advice.


Painful periods, or dysmenorrhoea, should not cause significant discomfort. Mild period pain can often be managed with rest, a hot water bottle, or paracetamol. However, if you have severe pain, especially if accompanied by other symptoms, you should seek advice from your GP to rule out possible medical conditions. Period pain can radiate around the tummy, back, and even down the legs and may come with bloating, mood changes, fatigue, and changes in your stools.

Navigating Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Changes in your body's hormone levels before your period can cause physical and emotional changes, often known as Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Symptoms range from mild to severe mood changes, fatigue, headaches, migraines, and general aches and pains leading up to menstruation. These symptoms typically disappear within a day or two of your period starting. Changes in appetite, including cravings for salt and sugar, are also common.

There are lots of natural support for PMS, including dietary and lifestyle changes, along with supplements like magnesium glycinate, evening primrose oil, and B vitamins.

Understanding Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) creates changes in your hormone levels, including oestrogen and androgens. Contrary to its name, PCOS doesn't always mean there are cysts produced but often affects how are ovaries work. It makes us more insulin resistant, so our risk of other conditions including diabetes is higher. Symptoms may include irregular or heavy periods, fertility issues, acne, facial hair, hair loss/thinning hair, mood swings, low sex drive and in some cases weigh gain. Diet and lifestyle changes are recommended to help manage PCOS.

Perimenopause and Menopause: What to expect

Menopause is often thought of as the time when women start to feel at their worst as hormones decline. However, perimenopause, the period leading up to menopause, is typically when symptoms are most severe due to our hormones fluctuating to their most extreme highs and lows causing more severe symptoms.

This phase can start 10-12 years before menopause, with women experiencing hormonal changes from their late 30s onwards. In the UK the average age for menopause (defined as at least 12-18 months after your last period), is 52 years, though it can range from our mid 40’s into mid 50’s. Common symptoms include hot flushes, irregular, heavy or painful periods, mood swings, fatigue, low sex drive, anxiety, joint pains, migraines, vaginal dryness, depression, and poor sleep. Women can also experience change in metabolism leading to weight gain and muscle loss. Gut and liver issues are also common, and this also impacts our ability to metabolise or detoxify oestrogen.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can help for some, but it's important to identify the specific hormonal imbalances. It could be adrenals, oestrogen dominance due to poor oestrogen metabolism or detoxification, low progesterone or issues with androgens including testosterone. A healthy diet and lifestyle changes are also recommended.

Understanding and managing hormonal health is essential for overall wellbeing. Always consult a healthcare professional for personalised medical advice and support. 

All recommendations are intended for informational and educational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice from your GP.

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