Women’s hormone health can often feel like a mystery. As you age, your body goes through many changes. For women, many of those changes surround hormone health.
Aging is not the only thing that can influence your hormones. Underlying health conditions, stress and external environmental factors can also impact your hormone levels.
How do you know if your hormones are at a healthy level, though?
Well, the only way to be certain is to visit your physician. There are at-home tests available, but a doctor will likely provide more detailed information and provide more tests to ensure you have a proper diagnosis.
However, you can start investigating your hormone health today by narrowing down and tracking any potential symptoms prior to visiting your physician. This may help them diagnose your problem, finding a hormone and nutrition solution to help get you back on track faster.
A few things to know about women’s hormone health
Women’s hormone health goes far beyond just our mood. Your hormones may also impact your daily bodily functions, movement, weight loss or gain, skin conditions, reproductive health and more. Although mood swings and general moodiness is often associated with changes in hormone levels, we need to consider much more than that.
It’s easy to have hormones on your mind if you are going through a physiological change like puberty, pregnancy, or menopause. Maybe you even track your cycle - so you have a better idea of when changes in your hormones may come each month.
While hormone changes seem more noticeable during those times, your body’s hormone production, levels and stability are almost always fluctuating. Especially as you age.
Much like your body’s natural collagen production (which decreases with age) the talk of women’s hormone health often doesn’t come up until women are older. But it shouldn’t.
It is possible to have irregular hormone levels even at a young age.
And the best time to be proactive - rather than reactive after a problem has already arisen - is in your late 20’s and early 30’s.
There are many natural hormone balance supplements that women can add to an anti-aging diet at any age. Gravitating towards those types of diets seems natural, but it’s best to focus on whole-body health during all stages of life.
And it’s truly never too early to start supplements and/or collagen for hormone health!
What roles do hormones play in the body?
When looking at hormone levels, symptoms, and how nutrition can support healthier hormone levels, the best place to start is understanding what hormones actually do.
Your hormones are chemical messengers within your body. They travel through your bloodstream after being produced in your endocrine glands. From the glands, they can send chemical signals through the bloodstream to organs and other tissues.
What are they telling the rest of your body exactly?
Essentially, the messages communicate either an on or off signal to cellular processes like growth, appetite, blood sugar, stress, sex drive, sleep cycles, and more. Because there are a variety of hormones throughout your body, hormones are tied to most bodily functions.
With such a vital integration to daily activities and fulfilling basic human needs, you can see how a hormone imbalance may lead to a variety of complications.
5 signs you may have a hormone imbalance
Signs that you may have some type of hormonal imbalance are vast and varying.
The five listed below are among the most commonly reported signs, but women’s hormone health is a very personal and individual matter. If you read the list below and suspect you have a hormone imbalance impacting your health, consult your doctor to find a professional solution as soon as possible.
1. Low energy or fatigue
Having low energy and general fatigue is a common sign that hormone levels may be amiss. This is because some hormones are directly linked to your metabolism.
The problem is that many different hormones can impact your energy levels, making it difficult for medical professionals to narrow down exactly which ones are out of balance. Some of the ones that are more commonly correlated with low energy levels include:
- Estrogen and progesterone: while impacting your energy levels, sharp changes in estrogen and progesterone levels may also bring mood swings, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes.
- Testosterone: while men have higher testosterone levels, testosterone is also an important hormone for women. Low testosterone levels may impact your energy levels as well as a loss of muscle mass, mood changes, and a lower sex drive.
- Thyroid hormones: the hormones in your thyroid help to keep your body in balance and can impact many things. The thyroid hormones influence body temperature, mood, energy, heart rate and metabolism. Having low levels of thyroid hormones or hypothyroidism may slow down the body’s systems and may lead to low energy and general fatigue.
- Adrenal hormones: the adrenal glands produce a hormone known as cortisol, or the stress hormone. Cortisol helps regulate both metabolism and appetite. Chronic stress may influence an increase in cortisol production and may lead to lower than average energy levels.
It may be typical for women to experience changes in energy levels surrounding menopause or childbirth. Other women may experience more fatigue and lower energy levels if they have an underlying health condition that impacts their thyroid.
2. Unexpected weight gain
Another potential sign of hormone imbalance could be weight gain.
Before getting into women’s hormone health and weight gain, it’s important to note that our bodies change as we age. And one of these changes includes a decrease of lipid turnover in your fat tissue, making it harder to shed that weight, even with diet and exercise.
That means some small, gradual weight gain may be a normal part of aging.
A sedentary lifestyle and genetics may also influence weight gain.
If you are seeing the scale move and not sure why, make an analysis of your daily habits, including sleep patterns, size and number of meals you eat per day, how many hours you sit each day and the amount of nutrients you get in your food each day. Adding more nutrient-dense foods into your diet - such as collagen protein - and integrating some simple movement may help you maintain normal body fat levels for your age and height.
However, if your weight gain is sudden, unexpected and/or more than 5 pounds, something else may be the cause.
One such culprit could be estradiol, an estrogen hormone that helps your body regulate metabolism and body weight. It often decreases around menopause and, if you are around that age, your doctor may test your estradiol levels. But it’s also important to know some other common conditions that may contribute to hormonal weight gain:
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Thyroid hormone deficiency
- Insulin resistance
- Estrogen dominance
- Metabolic syndrome
- Androgen imbalance
- Growth hormone deficiency
- Cortisol excess
If you have one or more of these symptoms, it could be time to schedule a consultation with your doctor.
3. Irritability and mood swings
Potentially the most noticeable, irritability and mood swings are often associated with women’s hormone health - or a lack thereof.
Some women may only really see dramatic changes in their mood the week before a menstrual cycle, but if there is a consistent imbalance, mood swings may become more common or even more intense.
Many women will also struggle with more intense mood shifts during menopause. Your hormones (specifically your estrogen levels) are undergoing a big change during this time. But proper nutrition, supplementation and in some cases, medication, could help decrease or eliminate the worst of your menopause symptoms.
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
- Stress and changes in cortisol levels
- Psychiatric disorders or behavioral conditions
- Starting new medications
Working with an endocrinologist and mental health specialist may also give you some tools to manage mood, emotions and hormones before, during and after menopause.
4. Low libido
Women may experience low libido or sex drive when their hormone levels are irregular and unmanaged. In fact, it is thought that around 70% of low libido cases in women are caused by a hormonal imbalance of some kind.
Many women particularly notice changes in their sex drive before, during and after menopause because of how much the body changes and adapts to hormonal shifts.
This is normal - but the good news is that there are some solutions. In many cases, natural, holistic ones. First, it’s important to identify the common hormones associated with low libido:
- Cortisol: chronically high cortisol levels may cause low libido in some women. High levels of stress, unmanaged mental health issues and other life changes can all contribute to changes in cortisol levels.
- Testosterone: an imbalance in testosterone levels is commonly seen in women that take birth control pills - or recently stopped taking them. Oral contraception may lead to lower testosterone levels, which may lead to a low sex drive. There are other causes of low testosterone in women, and it is possible even if you do not take any form of birth control.
- Estrogen: the female hormone, changes in estrogen levels are typical in many women. They will rise and fall as with your cycle, menopause and with life changes. However, when estrogen goes too far in one direction, it may lead to a low sex drive, vaginal dryness, irregular periods, severe bloating and more intense PMS symptoms.
- Thyroid hormones: like many other symptoms on the list, your thyroid function may influence your sex drive. Low thyroid levels are correlated with high cortisol, some autoimmune disorders and an increase in endocrine disruptors in the bloodstream.
Again, it’s important that you don’t self-diagnose your libido issues. Your doctor is well-versed in women’s hormone health - and the myriad of symptoms and solutions available. Your first step should be to work with him or her to identify a hormonal imbalance and re-ignite your sex drive.
Then, other lifestyle changes, such as incorporating more self-care, exploring your mental health, supplementation with medical nutrition products and engaging in more frequent exercise may help you maintain those healthy levels.
5. Having a hysterectomy
There are multiple reasons you may opt to have a hysterectomy - from heavy bleeding and discomfort to emergencies and cancer. But it is most frequently an elective procedure for women who are 50 to 60. It is safe and can be a life-saving surgery, but it is also an important time to understand women’s hormone health and monitor your own levels.
Your doctor will talk to you about all of the side effects and potential outcomes of your surgery, which will include potential hormone imbalances and hormone therapy (HRT) to account for a decrease in natural estrogen production.
After a hysterectomy, your body will continue to make reproductive hormones, however, it is normal for those levels to become altered. You may also be experiencing some or all of the other symptoms of a hormone imbalance on this list.
A mixture of healthy habits, good nutrition, supplementation, and medication can help you feel like yourself again, improving your quality of life.
Hormone, nutrition solutions, and treatment
Determining the exact hormone imbalance you may have is one of the most important steps to managing any woman’s hormone health.
Once that has been discovered, you can move to the treatment and management process with the guidance of a medical professional. While some hormone treatments rely on medicine, which may be effective, many women choose to use more natural and lifestyle treatments to manage hormones.
Nutritional solutions are one possibility and can be done with the help of a dietician, your doctor or both. Among the many helpful dietary and lifestyle changes they may recommend, having enough high-quality, soy-free protein in your diet will likely be at the top of the list.
Let’s focus on the soy-free part of that for a bit. Because not all types of protein are created equal - especially when it comes to women’s hormone health.
Soy and soy-based proteins are processed in your body much like estrogen. In fact, eating a lot of soy-based products or using a soy protein powder may be linked to a decrease in FSH and LH in people who are premenopausal, which may impact fertility. And it may do the opposite in those who are menopausal - causing an increase in estrogen stores.
This is a hotly debated topic, and the verdict is still out about soy and its impact on women’s hormone health.
However, to err on the side of caution, we recommend using a protein powder or protein supplement that is proven to help your overall health, such as ProT Gold hydrolyzed collagen protein. After all, the best collagen supplements for women should be easy to digest and easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
The process of hydrolysis breaks down the molecular structure of collagen peptides, soothing your stomach and ensuring maximum digestion. And our simple-to-use single serving liquid collagen or easy-to-mix collagen powder gives you two great options for meeting your daily protein needs and getting high-quality collagen into your diet.
Mix it into your morning smoothie, sneak some protein powder into your oats or muffin mix or throw a few of our liquid packs into your purse for a tasty, healthy on-the-go snack.
Whether you decide our collagen protein is right for you, our goal is to provide you with the best information and products to live a healthy, pain-free life. When it comes to women’s hormone health, we only offer the highest quality, medical-grade collagen supplements to support you on your own personal journey.