Many women know that mood swings and hot flashes are linked to changing hormones. However, brain fog, leg cramps, anxiety, changes in sex drive, and sleep disturbances can also come back to a hormonal imbalance. For most women, hormonal changes and imbalances set in around the mid-30s, although hormonal imbalances can affect women of all ages.
Is it always emotional stress?
Many women may be suffering from too much stress without experiencing emotional stress. Some experts note that, in today’s society, stress might also be called overstimulation. This might look like exercising too much, not sleeping enough, drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, spending too much time on electronic devices, or having poor relationships. Many women can suffer the physiological effects of too much stress without feeling emotionally distressed.
Understanding stress hormones
When a person encounters a stressful obstacle, such as completing an enormous work task or trying to get the family ready for an event under a time crunch, the body activates the stress-response system. The adrenal glands release hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline can elevate the heart rate and provide a burst of energy. Cortisol increases blood sugar and tries to curb functions that the body deems nonessential during fight-or-flight. For example, cortisol suppresses digestion and alters immune response to try to direct all the body’s energy into responding to stress.
When hormone levels stay high
This stress-response system is meant to be helpful. But when a woman’s body stays in a state of perceived stress, this long-term overexposure to cortisol can be harmful. Women with too much cortisol can have an increased risk of anxiety, depression, digestive problems, migraines, weight gain, and difficulty concentrating. Because of this, women must find healthy ways to cope with stressors.
What can I do?
Women need to understand how to manage physiological stressors as well as psychological ones. For example, many women fail to prioritize sleep, which is a crucial health habit for lowering stress. Women can also try relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, or massage. Overall, women should aim to have a balanced lifestyle that allows for time to foster healthy relationships and participate in hobbies. For more information about managing stress and treating hormonal imbalances, speak with a healthcare provider.