In the popular imagination, hormones do little more than control your period, initiate puberty and affect your sex drive. In reality, hormones are the body's chemical messengers, dutifully sending signals from one area of your body to another. It's surprisingly easy to throw your hormones out of balance, and once things get off kilter, they tend to get progressively worse over time. In most cases, though, hormone imbalances are fairly easy to correct, so if you know the signs, you'll be well equipped to get back into optimal health.
1. Cyclical changes in health or mood
Especially for women, cyclical changes in health or mood that occur on a predictable basis often signal a hormone issue. Typical signs include moodiness, skin problems, or unexplained aches and pains. Though men don't have periods like women, they're also vulnerable to sudden hormone shifts. If you find that your mood changes on a predictable basis, your hormones might be to blame—even if you can't point to PMS.
2. Difficulty conceiving
Hormone imbalances are the leading cause of fertility problems. If you and your partner have tried to have a baby for six months or longer with no results, hormone problems are high on the list of potential infertility causes. A simple blood test may explain what's going wrong.
3. Chronic skin problems
We all struggle with acne, excess hair, or strange skin markings—perhaps more so than we'd like to admit. But if your skin is suddenly out of control, it's time to consider the role hormones might play. Telltale signs of hormone problems include greasy, oily skin, cystic acne, and dry, flaky skin. If your skin doesn't respond to treatments that have previously worked, this is even more compelling evidence that you may have a hormone problem.
4. Changes in sleep habits
Inadequate shuteye can quickly upend just about everything in your life. So if you're struggling with sleep, you may experience a host of other issues, even before you notice that you're not sleeping enough. Hormones can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, change your energy levels such that you sleep too much or cause strange things to happen while you're sleeping. Nightmares, night sweats, waking up freezing, getting up too frequently to use the bathroom, and waking up parched are all common complaints among those struggling with hormonal imbalances.
5. Low energy
In such a fast-paced world, it's a small miracle that we don't all have chronic fatigue syndrome. Low energy that is not better explained by depression, lack of sleep, or eating issues, though, often signals a hormone imbalance. Difficulties with the chemical systems responsible for sleep regulation can leave you chronically exhausted during the day, but struggling to fall asleep at night.