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Symptoms of a Hormone Imbalance

Dr. Christine SterlingDr. Christine Sterling Posts: 11Member, Medical Advisory Board
edited September 2019 in Dr. Christine Sterling

Hormone “imbalances” get blamed for a lot from weight gain to mood changes, but what is a hormone imbalance and how do you know if you have one? 

As an Ob/Gyn, women ask me all the time to check their hormones to look for an imbalance. In truth, it’s not that simple...

For starters, there is no real medical definition of a “hormone imbalance.” In women, our hormones change both on a 24 hr cycle and on a monthly cycle. There are 2 situations in which women’s hormones are relatively stable or “balanced” from day-to-day and that is menopause and when you are using the birth control pill, patch or vaginal ring. Otherwise, as long as you are healthy, your hormones should be changing throughout the day and the month.

That being said, there are a variety of conditions that can cause hormonal problems, so let’s talk about some of the most common symptoms.

Common Symptoms of a Hormonal Issue:

Irregular periods. A normal menstrual cycle, when a woman is not on birth control, occurs every 21-35 days and lasts on average 3-5 days. Hormonal problems can lead to more or less frequent periods or periods that last too long or are too heavy. 

Male pattern hair growth. Women who experience thick, dark hair growth on their face, or in the space between their belly-button and their mons pubis (a happy trail) may be experiencing a hormonal issue. This can also be normal, depending on your ethnic and genetic background. Some women with hormonal issues loose hair in a male pattern with the loss concentrated around the temples.

Acne. There are many, many causes of acne but hormones can be one of them. This is often seen in women with an excess of male hormones. Even when hormones aren’t the route cause birth control that contains estrogen can help acne. Estrogen increases the body’s production of a protein called Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). SHBG also binds male hormones preventing them from acting on the sebaceous glands in the skin and causing acne. 

Feeling too cold or too hot. Issues with your thyroid being too low or too high can often make people intolerant of heat or cold. These symptoms often accompany weight gain in the case of cold intolerance, and weight loss in those who are experiencing heat intolerance.

If you think you may be experiencing a hormonal issue, talk to your doctor. Be wary of anyone who claims they can test your hormones through a sample of your saliva, these results are unreliable and should not be used to make any medical diagnosis or develop a treatment plan (not to mention they aren’t usually covered by insurance and are often expensive). Remember the above list is just a few of the many symptoms of a hormonal problem, and is not meant to replace a discussion with your physician. 

Happy Hormones!

Dr. Sterling



  • ahks03ahks03 Posts: 5Member

    I’m constantly wondering if it’s my hormones or my age that’s causing less frequent periods, I’ll be 36 in March.

  • kaceylangstonkaceylangston Posts: 181Administrator admin

    @ahks03 I always have irregular periods and am really considering getting my hormones tested so I can see if there is any imbalance...have you given any thoughts to getting your hormones tested?

  • JenlehrLMFTJenlehrLMFT Posts: 149Member, Medical Advisory Board ✭✭✭

    @Dr. Christine Sterling I have heard such different opinions on hormones. Especially once in menopause. I use topical progesterone (bio-identical, and very small amounts of estradiol twice a week.) One Dr. told me that estradiol can help keep our arteries cleaner. Another is worried about estrogen dominance. Thanks for the information!

  • AlexaKirbsAlexaKirbs Posts: 61Member ✭✭✭

    @ahks03 @kaceylangston I was having really irregular periods when I went off the pill. I ended up doing a hormone test and found out my hormones were all out of sort. I ended up working with a naturopath and naturally got my hormones back on track and am doing so much better. Highly recommend getting tested!

  • emsmiley12emsmiley12 Posts: 1Member

    @Dr. Christine Sterling How would hormone imbalance appear in bloodwork? My most recent PCP appointment ran a full panel on me, including thyroid functioning. He reported everything was normal. However, I just keep having some bizarre symptoms such as overly hot, hot flashes, temperature regulation issues of high intensity workouts, and weight gain when doing nothing different. Would there be other ways to dx?

  • chiquttacchiquttac Posts: 1Member

    I take low dose birth control pills to help with cyst pain. I have noticed as I’ve gotten older (mid 30s now) an increase in mood swings & irritability that I know irrational. I’m hoping the #mood pills somewhat help balance me out.

  • Dr. Christine SterlingDr. Christine Sterling Posts: 11Member, Medical Advisory Board

    @emsmiley12 These symptoms could have many, many different etiologies and the answer is too complex to answer outside of a doctor-patient relationship. I would recommend you see your ObGyn or get a second opinion!

  • taishanycetaishanyce Posts: 116Member ✭✭✭

    @chiquttac the mood pills will help tremendously! 😌

  • PA Stephanie HowardPA Stephanie Howard Posts: 10Member, Medical Advisory Board

    @Dr. Christine Sterling Love this! Also, thankful you put the info up about saliva testing! So many people have that done and then come to me with the results!

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