How Hormone Imbalances Affect Your Period—and How to Treat Them

Nicole Day
By Nicole Day
Head and Shoulders Photo of Michelle Meyer
Edited by Michelle Meyer

Published August 3, 2022.

Hands holding a stethoscope and  a clipboard with the word "hormones" on it

Hormones play an integral role in our daily lives and need to be taken seriously to ensure maximum health and functionality.

Hormones are produced in the endocrine glands. They act as chemical messengers that travel along our bloodstream and tell our organs and tissues what to do. Hormones help control reproduction and can therefore affect our period, especially if we're experiencing hormonal imbalances.

Hormonal imbalances are when there is too much or too little of a particular hormone, and these can have major effects on the body, even if the imbalance is minor. Some hormonal fluctuations can occur during puberty, menopause, pregnancy, or breastfeeding—all of which are completely natural. However, other changes can be due to endocrine glands that are not functioning properly, which can lead to more serious effects.

Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalances

There are many symptoms associated with hormonal imbalances, and it's essential to be familiar with them so that you can act accordingly.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of hormonal imbalances:

  • Mood swings
  • Heavy or painful periods
  • Low libido
  • Insomnia or poor sleep quality
  • Unexpected weight gain
  • Skin problems such as acne
  • Fertility problems
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Weak bones
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Excess hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body

Many of these symptoms go unnoticed as they aren't viewed as indicators of hormonal imbalances. From personal experience, I often perceived my acne as a result of a poor skin routine or not drinking enough water, or sleepless nights being caused by anxiety or stress—but they were all indicators of hormonal imbalances in my body and were leveled out quite easily.

Which Hormone Imbalances Affect Your Period?

As women, our bodies are drastically influenced by our estrogen and progesterone levels, so it makes sense for these two hormones to be the main culprits when it comes to experiencing "out of the ordinary" periods, such as irregular periods.

Irregular periods are when the starting time between each period begins to change or if the length of your period varies a lot. There are many causes of irregular periods besides changes in our estrogen and progesterone levels.

Some women have very low body fat (such as elite professional athletes or women with eating disorders), and, as a result, they experience extremely light or even non-existent periods, known as "amenorrhea." This is caused by a severe estrogen imbalance.

How to Identify Which Hormone Imbalance You Have

Testing hormones is very different from testing cholesterol or iron levels in your blood because hormones are constantly changing (day by day, hour by hour), and there are also more than 50 hormones in the human body! So asking your doctor to check your hormones is like asking them to find a needle in a haystack. Hormones change based on where you are in your menstrual cycle, when you last ate, your stress levels, other hormone activities, and many other factors. Your doctor can do hormone tests to determine which one is out of balance, but inform them of your symptoms so that they can narrow it down.

You can also keep track of your own period and cycle to determine when (in which phase of your cycle) you are experiencing symptoms because different hormones fluctuate in each phase. This can also help narrow down the hormone that is in imbalance.

Can You Treat Hormone Imbalances?

Yes! The method of treatment will depend on the possible cause of the hormone imbalance. For example, if you are experiencing hormone imbalances due to menopause, there are a variety of hormone balance supplements for you to take. You can also look further into how birth control helps with PMS and regulating periods.

There are also many natural remedies to consider. These begin by following a healthy lifestyle such as getting sufficient sleep each night (6-8 hours), eating a high-quality diet with enough protein and healthy fats and less sugar, managing your stress by meditating or practicing yoga, and exercising regularly.

If natural remedies don't help, then you may need to seek professional medical care as an option, especially if your period suddenly acts out of the ordinary or if you experience more pain than usual during a period.

In the end, we know our bodies best and will be able to detect when we're not quite feeling ourselves. Listen to your body, analyze the symptoms and act accordingly to make sure you are putting yourself and your body first!