A tremendous portion of a woman's well-being is dictated by her hormones, whether it be due to natural events - like menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause - or other causes, such as stress, improper weight, or illness.
Because symptoms of hormone imbalance can wreak havoc in the female body, obtaining quick and adequate treatment is of the uttermost importance. Luckily, there are a number of hormonal imbalance treatments to return to one's equilibrium safely and effectively.
Read on for three approaches on how to treat hormonal imbalance, such as lifestyle changes, alternative medicine, and conventional medicine, so that you can restore your symptom-free life for years to come!
Lifestyle Changes for Hormonal Imbalance Treatment
The first level of hormonal imbalance treatment involves making wholesome lifestyle choices regarding diet, exercise, and habits. Though they require the highest amount of self-discipline, they involve the least amount of risk.
Optimizing one's diet is a highly effective and relatively easy treatment for hormonal imbalance in females.
Such a hormone-balancing diet should be composed with foods rich in macronutrients (healthy fats, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates) and micronutrients, such as key minerals and vitamins.
While the specific list of best foods for hormonal imbalance will differ depending on the cause, it can include the following:
- Phytoestrogenic foods, like yams, soy, or alfalfa, contain plant-based estrogens that fill the hormonal gap in the body, thus relieving symptoms of an imbalance.1
- Fatty acid-rich foods, such as avocados, eggs, nuts, and olives, provide the body with building blocks that are used to make hormones and support their functions.
- Protein-rich foods, including beans, fish, or chicken, give the body material for proper hormone synthesis and maintenance of hormone-driven bodily functions, such as immunity or metabolism.
- Gut-supporting foods, like those rich in dietary fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics, are key for healthy gut hormone levels as they give nourishment for gut microbiota and, thus, regulate insulin sensitivity and other processes.2
- Insulin-regulating foods, like quinoa, oats, or whole-grain pasta, prevent insulin resistance and the hormonal imbalance it can trigger.3
When it comes to exercising, moderation is key as both ends of the spectrum can result in hormonal chaos. Both lack of or too strenuous workouts can deregulate the body's physiology, leading to insulin resistance, menstrual disorders, infertility, and more.
To use physical activity as an effective hormonal imbalance treatment, it is important to follow these recommendations:4
- Opt for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity weekly, including brisk walking, dancing, or gardening.
- Alternatively, one can also choose 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, like running or cycling.
- In addition, a woman should add muscle-strengthening exercises, like stair climbing, at least twice per week.
- Avoid strenuous exercise that may lead to energy deficits, like heavy weight lifting.
Besides choosing the right food and adjusting one's exercise, there are other choices a woman can make in her everyday lifestyle to promote overall well-being and lead the body towards hormonal equilibrium.
They can include the following:
- Practice stress-reduction techniques to lower cortisol levels and enhance hormonal balance, thus relieving loss of libido, insomnia, and other ailments.5 They can include meditation, breathing exercises, or a proper sleep routine.
- Be conscious of unhealthy habits, including addictions to smoking; excessive alcohol or coffee intake; or using illicit drugs.
- Create a strong support network for optimal emotional nourishment and reduction of depression, irritability, or mood swings.
While these lifestyle changes will help alleviate many symptoms, they do not address the problem directly at the hormonal source, and further treatment may be necessary. Luckily, alternative medicine perfectly complements the aforementioned habits as it has proven to be excellent for treatment of hormonal imbalance in a safe and natural way.
Alternative Medicine for Hormonal Imbalance Treatment
Alternative medicine involves little to no risk and can be an extremely effective way to treat all types of hormonal imbalance. It can include herbal supplements and alternative therapies.
While there is a wide range of alternative hormonal imbalance treatments, many women find that natural supplements are the easiest to follow, as the others require greater time, efforts, and monetary commitment. They can be as follows:
- Nutritional supplements, like those containing selenium, iodine, and vitamins B12 and D, might be appropriate for women whose hormonal imbalance is triggered by poor diet, eating disorders, or absorption disorders.6
- Phytoestrogenic supplements, like black cohosh, contain estrogenic components produced by plants that help regulate hormone levels. However, as a result of adding outside hormones, a woman's body may become less capable of producing estrogen on its own. This causes a further decrease of the body's own hormone levels.1
- Hormone-regulating supplements, like Macafem, nourish the endocrine glands, causing them to produce hormones more efficiently. They can be considered the safest way to treat the symptoms of hormonal imbalance naturally as the body creates its own hormones and doesn't require any outside assistance.
From “Nature and Health Magazine,” Dr. Chacon says:
Though scientific evidence on use of alternative therapies for hormonal imbalance treatment is largely lacking, women can benefit from them indirectly as they are proven to promote relaxation and overall well-being. They are as follows
- Acupuncture has been shown to contribute to the regulation of hormone release and menstruation by affecting hypothalamic function, stimulating endocrine glands, and lowering stress.7
- Aromatherapy with angelica, chaste tree, or coriander's essential oils has been found to effectively relieve symptoms of menopausal hormonal imbalance and support overall equilibrium.8
Conventional Medicine for Hormonal Imbalance Treatment
Interventions at the third level involve the highest risk and often the highest costs. In taking the leap into pharmaceutical options, side effects are inevitable, yet sometimes they can be worth it if the benefits will outweigh the risks.
Medication to balance hormones are generally quick and effective in bringing relief, but because of their potential side effects, they have to be considered on a one-to-one basis according to a woman's health status. They include:
- Disease-specific medications include those necessary to control chronic conditions causing hormonal imbalance, such as thyroid hormone pills.
- Symptom-specific medications can be used to relieve concrete symptoms of hormonal imbalance, such as antihistamines for allergies or itchy skin; pain relievers for joint pain; sleeping pills for sleep problems; and more.
- Oral contraceptives are oftentimes prescribed as treatment for hormonal imbalance in females, particularly those suffering from irregular periods, hot flashes, and other similar ailments.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is mainly used in menopausal women to balance hormones and reduce severe symptoms. Although effective, HRT has been linked to serious side effects and should be used with caution.
In 2019, researchers at Oxford University published results of a comprehensive analysis of worldwide data on HRT and breast cancer. The findings, published in The Lancet, have not only confirmed the 2002 report from the Women's Health Initiative that HRT increases the risk of breast cancer, but also discovered that these risks can persist for over a decade after its discontinuation.10
While surgery is not typically used as hormonal imbalance treatment, it can be helpful in relieving symptoms of imbalanced hormones. Possible surgical interventions can target uterine fibroids, endometrial growths, or excess weight, among other maladies.
Women suffering from hormonal imbalance symptoms are understandably desperate for effective and long-lasting treatment. Luckily, there are plenty of methods that can bring desired results. These hormonal imbalance treatments consist of three approaches, ranging from the least to the most invasive, and include lifestyle changes of diet, exercise, and healthy habits; alternative medicine of nutritional supplements, herbal supplements (like Macafem), or alternative therapies, like acupuncture; or conventional medicine, including medications and surgery. Equipped with knowledge and willpower, women will be a step closer to regaining physical and psychological equilibrium for years to come.
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2008). Aromatherapy Massage Affects Menopausal Symptoms in Korean Climacteric Women: A Pilot-Controlled Clinical Trial. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2529395/
- Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. (n.d.). Acupuncture for Women's Health. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://aoma.edu/patients/acupuncture-for-women-health
- NHS. (2019). Study suggest HRT carries higher risk of breast cancer than thoughts. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://www.nhs.uk/news/cancer/study-suggests-hrt-carries-higher-risk-breast-cancer-thought/
- Frontiers in Public Health. (2018). Steroid Hormones and Their Action in Women's Brains: The Importance of Hormonal Balance. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5974145/
- Frontiers of Neuroendocrinology. (2010). The pros and cons of phytoestrogens. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3074428/
- Cleveland Clinic. (2015). Your Blood Sugar May Be the Key to Your Hormone Imbalance. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pill-not-remedy/
- Frontiers in Physiology. (2019). The Influence of the Gut Microbiome on Host Metabolism Through the Regulation of Gut Hormone Release. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6477058/
- American Heart Association. (2018). American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults
- Hormone Health Network. (2018). What is Cortisol? Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/cortisol
- The Ohio State University. (2017). Four nutrients to help your hormone imbalance – and two foods to avoid. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/blog/four-nutrients-to-help-your-hormone-imbalance
- International Journal of Women's Health. (2014). Acupuncture and women's health: an overview of the role of acupuncture and its clinical management in women's reproductive health. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3962314/
- Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery. (2002). Vitex agnus-castus essential oil and menopausal balance: a self-care survey. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1353611702906347
- JAMA. (2002). Assessing Benefits and Harms of Hormone Replacement Therapy. December 16, 2019 from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/195215
- The Lancet. (2019). Type and timing of menopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of the worldwide epidemiological evidence. Retrieved December 16, 2019 from https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(19)31709-X/fulltext