Are these hot flashes worth going to the doctor for, or is it nothing? Should I just wait for a few days and see what happens? So goes the typical internal self-bargaining dialogue after experiencing a mild symptom of illness without an identifiable cause.
We’ve all ignored minor health problems from time to time. Often, the voice advocating for watchful waiting wins out, and the symptoms eventually reside. But, occasionally, these minor symptoms don’t pass with time. And sometimes, especially for women, they point to a sneaky hormonal problem in the body, one that leaves a small yet persistent drag on everyday life. The symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women might seem easy to brush off, but if you’re currently experiencing them, understand that they aren’t likely to just go away on their own without correcting the underlying hormonal issue.
So, how are women supposed to recognize the symptoms of hormonal imbalance when they’re so easy to ignore? There’s a tell-tale cluster of symptoms that women often experience when they’re suffering from an imbalance. If you suspect you may have a hormonal imbalance, pay close attention to this triad of signs. What message is your body trying to send—and is it time to reach out to a qualified bioidentical hormone replacement therapy doctor near you?
The Top 3 Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance in Women You May Be Ignoring
The top three most-ignored symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women are easy to brush off because they’re inconsistent—and also easy to attribute to other lifestyle factors. You may have experienced all or most of these symptoms yourself, but considered them a problem without a solution.
The three most common easy-to-ignore symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women are:
- Vaginal dryness
- Unpredictable menstruation
Vaginal Dryness: A Common Symptom of Hormonal Imbalance in Women
More than one-third of women will experience vaginal dryness in their lifetime, but few women are willing to start a discussion with their friends, partners, or even physicians about it. Vaginal dryness may cause daily discomfort when extreme, but many women only encounter vaginal dryness during sexual intimacy. Because vaginal dryness is often inconsistent, women may brush it off rather than seek treatment. Unfortunately, correcting the hormone imbalance causing vaginal dryness may be the only permanent solution.
Vaginal dryness is one of the leading symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women because the vagina is especially sensitive to hormonal signals. The production of vaginal lubrication is controlled mainly by estrogen. Therefore, when a woman is suffering from estrogen deficiency, she may experience a more severe case of vaginal dryness due to the loss of blood vessels. And with fewer blood vessels available to secrete serum, lubrication becomes limited.
While the cells of the vaginal wall can sometimes be coaxed to secrete a little bit more lubricant by prompting additional estrogen release, such as by increasing the woman’s level of arousal, many women with vaginal dryness may still experience painful intimacy. The short-term elevations in estrogen caused by increased arousal aren’t consistent enough to prompt new blood vessel formation, which takes time.
Often, women try to address vaginal dryness by using personal lubricants, but they’re a temporary solution at best. If vaginal dryness is impacting your life and relationships, a qualified bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) practitioner, such as those within the BodyLogicMD network, may be able to help.
Mild Depression and Women: When It May Be a Sign of Hormonal Imbalance
Depression is a critical sign of hormonal imbalance in women that is frequently ignored in favor of addressing lifestyle factors or maladaptive thought patterns. Regardless of the cause, depression may ebb and flow in intensity, and women might attribute these variations to life events or many other causes rather than hormonal imbalance.
Many people with depression procrastinate getting help because it’s hard to get motivated when you’re depressed, leading to prolonged symptoms. Depression makes nearly everything—except itself—easier to ignore. And for many busy women, persistent low-level depression might not seem troublesome enough to seek medical attention for, which similarly leads to its insistent presence in their lives.
If a hormonal imbalance causes your depression, it may be resistant to conventional treatments like psychotherapy and antidepressant drugs. Did you know your hormones—especially estrogen—play a role in regulating your brain’s neurotransmitters, like serotonin? If there is too much or too little estrogen in your brain, serotonin secretion by neurons is disrupted. While the effects of such a disruption vary from person to person, many women develop depression as a result. If depression doesn’t fade with time or get better with more traditional treatment, a hormone imbalance is the next logical place to investigate, with the help of a qualified BHRT doctor.
For many women suffering from depression, getting bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to correct their hormone imbalance could be life-changing. Persistent depression without an identifiable cause is treatable, and women shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to a local physician if they have a chronically low mood or abnormally low levels of motivation.
Unpredictable Menstruation: Why This Is So Easy for Women to Ignore
Slightly irregular menstruation is perhaps the most-ignored symptom of a hormonal imbalance in women. Women experiencing unpredictable periods caused by a hormonal imbalance may not realize that their cycle is more variable than other women’s, especially after suffering from a hormonal imbalance for years.
Unpredictable menstruation is easy to ignore in part because most women will experience irregular periods at some point in their lives, and it is therefore assumed to be normal. Some women may also be reluctant to talk about menstruation with their doctors. However, highly variable periods can be an important sign of a hormonal imbalance. If you are experiencing irregular periods or extreme instances of PMS, you may be able to find relief from your symptoms with help from a local BHRT physician.
Contact a BHRT Doctor If You’re Experiencing These Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
These symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women are ubiquitous, but they don’t have to be. When women listen to their bodies instead of ignoring their symptoms, they can experience improvements in mood, health, and relationships. Alleviating your persistent, nagging symptoms might be easier than you would expect if an untreated hormonal imbalance is causing them.
In the case of vaginal dryness, simply raising estrogen levels may be enough to drive dryness away forever. And many women return to a measure of regularity in their periods by providing their bodies with the right hormones at the right times. While depression, on the other hand, is typically a difficult illness to treat, women with depression caused by hormonal imbalance may find that restoring balance to their hormones is a far more effective treatment than they had experienced with any prior intervention.
Finding an experienced practitioner who specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is a great first step for women who suspect that they may be suffering from a hormonal imbalance. A BodyLogicMD-affiliated physician in your area can assess your hormones levels in light of your unique symptoms and create a treatment plan that’s right for your body’s needs and lifestyle. With the right care, you can start living a more balanced, comfortable, and joyful life.
If you have been experiencing—and ignoring—symptoms of hormonal imbalance, it’s time to reach out for support. BodyLogicMD-affiliated physicians are experts in treating hormonal imbalances in women using an integrative approach that includes bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Get started on a customized treatment plan designed to help you achieve your health goals and enhance your quality of life. Contact a local practitioner within the BodyLogicMD network to schedule your first appointment, or take our Hormonal Balance Quiz today.