Did Stress Trigger Your Hormonal Imbalance?
Hormonal imbalances can dramatically impact your quality of life…and you don’t have to live that way anymore.
Hormonal imbalances can cause a variety of complications, from lack of motivation to poor sleep quality to weight gain to anxiety and more.
In a 2019 survey commissioned by Dr. Anna Cabeca, OB/GYN, author of “The Hormone Fix,” out of 2,000 American women surveyed between aged 30 to 60, nearly half of them have experienced the symptoms of a hormone imbalance.
However, 72 percent of the respondents said they weren’t aware that their symptoms were related to hormone imbalances until after they experienced them.
“Starting our periods and ending our periods is mandatory. That’s a life cycle — but suffering and symptomatic is optional, and that’s a function of hormonal imbalance, whether we’re in our teens or in perimenopause or menopause age range,” Dr. Cabeca told Healthline.
Dr. Cabeca commissioned the survey to investigate how many women understand their hormones and the effect that a hormonal imbalance can have on quality of life.
While mood swings, hot flashes, and weight gain were understood to be symptoms of hormonal imbalance by two-thirds of the respondents, Dr. Cabeca said less than half of the women knew that urinary incontinence, brain fog, and memory loss can also be symptoms.
Common symptoms of hormonal imbalances include:
- weight gain
- brain fog
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- joint pain and leg cramps
- vaginal dryness
- insomnia or poor sleep quality
- loss of interest in sex
- loss of strength
- loss of motivation
Each symptom can affect different aspects of life.
In the survey, here are some examples of the symptoms experienced, and the percent of women reporting them.
- Energy: 50 percent
- Sex life: 39 percent
- Overall self-confidence: 27 percent
- Feeling like a woman: 19 percent
- Feeling alienated: 18 percent
“Americans are living life at 100 miles per hour, every day. It’s no wonder we have hormonal imbalances,” Dr. Jane Oh, an OB/GYN in Illinois, told Healthline. “When patients come to me for hormonal imbalance, the root cause is usually too much cortisol or stress hormone. Then downstream — every other hormone in our bodies is affected, including sex hormones and thyroid.”
Finding the Cause
According to Cabeca’s survey, when women experienced symptoms of an imbalance, 53 percent went to the doctor, and 48 percent took vitamins or supplements.
Dr. Oh says the most important step to treating hormonal imbalances is to look for the root cause. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s stress. In our modern times, it can also be called overstimulation,” she said.
Dr. Oh further explained such stress can present itself in varied ways, including:
- getting too much exercise (especially cardio)
- too much sugar and flour in your diet
- lack of sleep
- drinking too much caffeine or alcohol
- too much electronic stimulation or time on devices
- toxic people in your life
Dr. Cabeca agreed, noting that of women who experienced a hormonal imbalance, age 36 was the average age of onset of symptoms, meaning that some women experienced them in their 20s, far before menopausal years.
“Typically, what we start seeing in the mid-30s are the PMS symptoms, irregular cycles, and heavier cramping, so birth control pills, antidepressants, and sleeping pills start to be prescribed at that age. But that’s only addressing the symptom and not addressing the cause of those symptoms,” she said.
Feeling Great Again, with Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy
“The simplest way to explain bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT,” says Dr. Gary Donovitz, FACOG, OB/GYN, founder of BioTE® Medical, “is that it helps balance hormones in the body that restore balance to individuals suffering from naturally declining hormone levels. For many people, the use of BHRT enhances their quality of life without the risks associated with synthetic hormones. And, who wouldn’t want that?”
Dr. Gary Donavitz has been monitoring outcomes of over 850,000 men and women who have benefitted from Biote® hormone optimization. While he does agree that stress and age largely affect hormone imbalance, he observes that 80% of the time, cortisol is balanced and adrenal fatigue is restored through restoring optimal levels of hormones like testosterone, estrogen and thyroid.
Most of the research commentary on BHRT focuses on the effects of testosterone therapy in men. Yet, the data is there to support the health advantages in women. Women derive many of the same benefits from testosterone therapy as men regarding muscle mass, strength, and libido. Additionally, BHRT is protective to the brain, breast, bones, and heart. It helps reverse the annoying symptoms of declining hormones like fatigue, low energy, difficulty inability to lose weight, and irritability and it can increase bone density and help prevent age-related illnesses like osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.
Below are the different types of bioidentical hormone medicines used before and after menopause:
- Testosterone pellets and creams
- Estradiol (estrogen) pellets, creams and troches
- Progesterone creams, tablets, and troches
- Dessicated Thyroid pills
Additionally, vitamin supplementation is a key component to hormone optimization, and the following are options that may be added to your hormone balancing plan:
- Estrogen balancer such as DIM
- Vitamin D3 + K2
- Adrenal support such as Cortisol Manager or A-drenal
- Thyroid support, such as Iodine, Selenium, Zinc and Magnesium
- B vitamins such as Methylcobalamin and Folate
- Fish Oils, or Omega-3’s
“Although my first choice is for my patient to change lifestyle and diet to fix hormones naturally, there are patients who truly need hormonal support. For example, women who have had ovaries surgically removed and women who are suffering from severe hormonal sleep disturbances,” Dr. Oh said.
Ultimately, the use of hormones is a personal choice that’s best discussed with an experienced hormonologists, like Biote® Medical Providers Carol Bender and Kim Kovarik, Nurse Practitioners in Joy Wellness Partners in San Diego, CA.
“Benefits and risks should be discussed in a consultation with the client, giving them as much time as they need to share their symptoms and ask their questions, so that they can make an informed choice,” said Carol Bender, NP. Most of Carol’s clients come back with glowing reports of their response to the hormone balancing they received at Joy Wellness Partners.
Reports like these are heard all the time around Joy Wellness Partners:
“I’m back to feeling the best version of myself.”
“This is a marriage saver.”
“I feel calmer, clear-headed, energized, and my hot flashes are gone!”
“I lost 35 pounds in four months and am back to feeling the motivation of my college football years.”
“In the first month, I got off my anti-anxiety medication and got my sex drive back.”
“I wake up refreshed and energized again.”