Hormones can feel like a mystery language our bodies speak, but decoding their messages is key to understanding our overall well-being. Like many busy women, we easily attribute the days that we’re feeling “off” as regular tiredness, not enough coffee, or being overwhelmed from our day-to-day tasks.
While sometimes a quick day of relaxation and time off could be all that’s needed, there may be other underlying factors contributing to us feeling out of balance. The changes in your body and mood could be attributed to hormonal imbalances, which is a natural occurrence that happens as women age, and other factors such as birth control, pregnancy, and chemotherapy/radiation.
Meet the Major Players: 3 Key Female Hormones
Estrogen is the primary female hormone, responsible for developing and maintaining our female attributes that are unique to us. It plays a significant role in regulating our menstrual cycles, maintaining healthy skin, and maintaining bone density and strength. Though, when estrogen levels fluctuate, it can lead to weight gain, mood swings, and skin disruptions.
The Balancing Act Progesterone works hand-in-hand with estrogen to regulate our menstrual cycles and prepare our bodies for pregnancy. This hormone keeps estrogen levels in check and promotes relaxation, but imbalances can cause symptoms like bloating, fatigue, and anxiety.
Not just for the boys. Though often associated with men, testosterone plays an essential role in women's bodies as well. It helps maintain muscle mass, bone density, and influences our energy levels. However, too much testosterone can lead to acne, oily skin, and unwanted hair growth.
The Domino Effect: How Hormone Imbalances Affect Us & Why You Should Get Your Levels Tested
1. Feeling Tired and Fatigued
Juggling day-to-day life tasks such as working, cooking, and managing to find time for self-care can be exhausting. But if you’ve noticed yourself constantly having low energy and feeling fatigued, it may be a sign of hormonal imbalance. When your body makes excess progesterone, this can cause you to feel excessive sleepiness, resulting in the constant feeling of tiredness, along with having having an underactive thyroid, can deplete energy.
2. Unexplained & Excessive Weight Gain
Don’t stress if you can’t fit into your favorite pair of skinny jeans. As women develop and our bodies prepare for childbirth, some weight gain is to be expected and perfectly normal. If you’ve noticed excessive weight gain in a short period of time, accompanied by other symptoms—headaches, insomnia, mood swings, heavy periods—it’s time to consider that other underlying causes may be present. Thyroid deficiency, increase in estrogen, insulin resistance, and pituitary dysfunction could contribute to these symptoms causing rapid weight gain unexpectedly (Weingus 1).
3. Hot Flashes and Night Sweats
If you’ve found yourself feeling flushed for five to ten minutes at a time and you’re requiring cooler air, yet still sweating, it may very well be your hormones. Hot flashes and night sweats are caused by a drop in estrogen and progesterone levels, which is a sign of perimenopause (Chopra and Lovin 1).
4. Acne and Increased Skin Sensitivity
5. Hair Loss
While hair loss can be caused by a variety of factors including genetics and stress, it can also be a sign of hormonal imbalance. When your estrogen levels take a dip, your testosterone levels also begin to decline. Testosterone in women is essential to bone density, muscle mass, cognitive function, mood, sexual function, and energy (Chopra and Lovin 1). Thinning of the hair and loss could be in correlation to your testosterone levels within your body.
If you’ve experienced any of the symptoms above, it’s likely the result of a hormonal imbalance and may require hormone panel testing performed by your gynecologist or primary care physician. Hormone testing is usually performed by a blood draw and can diagnose health issues such as infertility, perimenopause, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and certain types of tumors. Don't be afraid to advocate for your health and understanding of your body. Ask your primary care physician or gynecologist about testing your hormone levels at your next office visit including cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels.
“Hormone Imbalance and Hormone Level Testing.” Testing.Com, 10 Feb. 2023,
“Hormone Testing for Women.” Testing.Com, 20 Apr. 2022, www.testing.com/hormone-test-
Weingus, Leigh. “Hormone Imbalance Symptoms.” Forbes, 27 June 2023,