Changing levels of female hormones cause women to experience a spectrum of physical sensations and mental and emotional states throughout the course of a 28-day menstrual cycle. These include breast tenderness, water retention, abdominal cramps, headaches, nausea, diarrhoea and enhanced verbal agility and spatial thinking.
Female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone in particular, are powerful and vital for optimal physical, mental and emotional health. Levels of these hormones vary over the course of a 28-day cycle with changes in levels occurring cyclically. If the cycle of hormonal fluctuation is broken and there is hormonal imbalance, you can experience a major decrease in your health and quality of life.
Since natural fluctuations of female hormones cause a wide range of symptoms even during good hormonal health and balance, it may be hard to target hormonal imbalance. A good starting point is to gauge your emotional state. Are you out of control emotionally? "Feelings of rage, irritability, depression, hopelessness, and sadness result from a hormonal imbalance," reports Nisha Jackson Ph.D. to "Women's Health Magazine"
Determine whether you are experiencing the physical symptoms of hormonal imbalance, which result from unhealthy and low levels of oestrogen or progesterone. These include hair loss, weight gain, acne, excessive hair growth, fatigue, irregular or non-occurring periods and reduced bone mass and strength.
You may be experiencing symptoms that are not often associated with "raging female hormones," but that affect your relationship and even work proficiency. If you are experiencing hormonal imbalance you may have reduced memory and verbal ability, both of which are enhanced by oestrogen, as cited in "Women's Health Magazine" and WomensHealth.gov. You may also notice a change in sexual activity with your partner. Hormonal imbalance can result in reduced libido. In addition to the physical affect of reduced libido, you may mentally feel less sexy and attractive, affecting your desire to be sexual. According to "Glamour Magazine" high levels of oestrogen are linked to feelings of attractiveness.
Pinpoint causes of hormonal imbalance. Have you recently lost or gained a good deal of weight? Have you taken on a new role at the office that has exponentially increased your work load and stress level or has the birth of a new child and balancing new motherhood with your career leave you overstressed and stretched very thin? Are you eating foods high in fat? If you answered yes to any of these questions, hormonal imbalance is a possible cause of your symptoms. Stress is a major cause of hormonal imbalance. Prolonged stress diverts hormones from their natural pathways and affects their production. Severe weight loss and weight gain also throws your hormones out of whack, as does fatty food, which unnaturally increase oestrogen levels.
If you feel that you may have a hormonal imbalance, consult with your physician. Your physician can give you hormone tests, such as saliva testing, which accurately assesses your hormone levels and what factors may be causing imbalance. Your body has its own individual chemistry, and factors causing hormone imbalance are individual to you and may not be traceable without such testing.
It is also important to consult your physician because your hormonal imbalance could have major implications such as infertility and, according to WomensHealth.gov, endometrial cancer. You may have polycystic ovary syndrome. Health.com cites this syndrome as the "most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age." Ten per cent of women of reproductive age have polycystic ovary syndrome, caused by insulin imbalance. Symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome include irregular or non-occurring periods, acne, rapid weight gain and baldness.