Renate Engelbrecht
Content producer
4 minute read
9 Oct 2021
10:00 am

Have unexplained weight gain? You could have a hormonal imbalance

Renate Engelbrecht

There are many reasons why women struggle with hormonal imbalances. Knowing about the imbalance is the first step to restoration.

Symptoms caused by hormonal imbalance. Picture: iStock

There are various symptoms that could indicate hormonal imbalance and therefore, knowing and listening to your body is key.

Here are five symptoms that could indicate that your hormones aren’t balanced, as well as what you can do to restore the balance:

Insomnia due to hormones

The inability to fall asleep often affects young mothers and women in general, due to the drop in progesterone post-childbirth. Progesterone, which is normally a hormone that is available in abundance, is responsible for deep sleep and makes waking up more difficult.

Low progesterone levels can also cause infertility, miscarriages, uterine bleeding, irregular periods, spotting and even weight gain.

It is said that certain foods can stimulate the body’s production of progesterone. These include broccoli, beans, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, kale, nuts, pumpkin, spinach and whole grains.

Maintaining a healthy body weight, reducing stress and refraining from over-exercising can also assist in increasing the body’s natural progesterone levels.

Progesterone can also be taken as a supplement or in cream form, but it is recommended that you consult with your doctor first.

During the perimenopause and menopause, the ovaries also gradually produce less oestrogen (and progesterone). Less oestrogen could cause night sweats, which ultimately also leaves you sleep deprived.

Practical things to tap into to make the menopausal process less frustrating, include wearing cotton night-clothes, sleeping between cotton sheets, keeping your bedroom cool and as dark as possible, taking up exercise and reducing your alcohol and caffeine intake.

ALSO READ: Why you need to go for your annual breast cancer screening

Weight gain due to imbalanced hormones
Weight gain due to imbalanced hormones. Picture: iStock

Unexplained weight gain

There are various hormonal imbalances that might cause you to pick up weight, including an underactive or inactive thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that regulate your metabolism, which is why when these hormones aren’t balanced, you’re bound to experience weight gain.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) also has an impact on the balance of hormones, causing small cysts on the ovaries which can also result in weight gain. Abdominal weight gain is also not uncommon during menopause, due to the hormonal changes.

If you haven’t changed your diet or exercise routine and you are experiencing weight gain, you might want to consult with your health practitioner to check for conditions like PCOS or thyroid problems. PCOS can be managed with products like Lamelle Research Laboratories’ Ovaria.

Headaches due to imbalanced hormones

Hormonal headaches
Another symptom could be headaches. Picture: iStock

Many women often suffer from headaches during their menstrual cycles, pregnancies or menopause, and this is mainly due to hormonal changes.

It might help to keep a symptoms diary to be able to identify the triggers of your headaches. It also often helps to eat small snacks more regularly during the day and keeping to a regular sleep pattern might also help.

There are, of course, alternative options like migraine medicines and taking contraceptives, but as with anything in life, trying to balance your hormones naturally might be the first step.

Vaginal dryness

Vaginal dryness
Hormonal imbalances could cause vaginal dryness too. Picture: iStock

Vaginal dryness is usually the result of a dip in oestrogen levels, often during perimenopause or menopause. It could also be a side effect from taking contraceptives or antidepressants.

The dip in oestrogen (and testosterone) might also have a negative effect on your libido.

Washing with unperfumed soaps and using water-based lubricants are some of the most basic solutions for vaginal dryness. If it is due to menopause, consult with your doctor to see if there are any hormonal supplements that might assist.

For a better libido, consult with your doctor to find out about testosterone supplements, which might even boost your mood and energy levels as well.

Hormonal skin problems

Adult acne due to hormonal imbalances
Adult acne. Picture: iStock

If you are suffering from chronic adult acne, it might be a sign of low levels of oestrogen and progesterone, as well as high levels of androgen (a male hormone also found in women, regulating the development and maintenance of male characteristics). Your acne could also indicate PCOS.

This kind of skin problem is something that will need to be discussed with your health provider, if you believe that it is due to a hormonal imbalance.

Another way for you to find out whether your hormones are imbalanced or not, is by completing Life Retreat’s hormonal questionnaire.