Your hormone levels can and do increase and decrease over the course of your life. And while some of those changes might only be temporary and not actually affect you all the much, other's can be more permanent and seriously impact your quality of life. Regardless of whether changes in hormone levels are just temporary or in it for the long-haul, if you're being bothered and negatively affected by them, you'll probably want to know a bit about some of the things you can do to rebalance your hormones, according to endocrinologists, who are hormone experts. In some cases, you'll likely need to see your primary care doctor, OB-GYN, or an endocrinologist in order to address these changes and the conditions and side effects you might be dealing with, but there are also some things that you can do on your own that just might make a difference.
Because the term "imbalance" can cause people to think that there might be something really, truly wrong with them, Dr. Ruchi Bhabhra, MD, PhD, an adjunct assistant professor and endocrinologist at the University of Cincinnati, tells Romper that she prefers discussing the topic in terms of hormonal changes or differences. While, sure, some changes might not be viewed as favorably as others, not all hormonal changes mean something bad.
If you're dealing with a hormone change (or you think your hormones might be out of balance), there are things that you can actually do that can help you handle the issue and get you back to feeling the best that you can.
1. Take Medication Or Use A Patch
If your doctors have told you that you're probably going through menopause (or you suspect that that may be the case), you might want to dig into that a little deeper and see if you really might be. Bhabhra says that the labs are relatively straightforward and that you should at least be open to considering hormone replacement therapy if your menopausal symptoms are interfering with your life.
She explains that while hormone replacement fell out of favor for awhile because there was concern that it could raise your risks for conditions like breast cancer and heart disease, there's now a better understanding of the sorts of risk factors that doctors should screen patients for in order to minimize risks. If you want to try pills or a patch, Bhabhra says you'll need to be screened for your risk level first.
Additionally, if you're dealing with PCOS, medication might be necessary as well. In PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, your body produces too much testosterone. Bhabhra says that PCOS patients sometimes need medication if they want to conceive, to make sure that they're ovulating. If you think you have PCOS, you should talk about it with your OB-GYN, who can help determine if you do or not, as well as how to proceed.
2. Live A Healthy Lifestyle
Bhabhra says that she always recommends that her patients do their best to live a healthy lifestyle, as this can help a number of different things (not just make you look good).
Dr. Anis Rehman, MD, an endocrinologist at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, tells Romper that he also recommends that patients dealing with hormonal changes try to prioritize a healthy lifestyle. He also suggests making sure that women, in particular, get plenty of calcium because when their estrogen production decreases as they get older, that can seriously affect their bone health.
"Estrogen is required for the bone formation," he explains. So regardless of if you're going through menopause right now or not, ensuring that you're getting about three to four servings of high-calcium foods every day can help boost your bones — just make sure you're getting vitamin D as well.
3. Use A Vaginal Cream
If you're dealing with menopausal symptoms, but don't want to try out pills or patches, vaginal cream is also a possibility. Bhabhra says that hormone replacement done with vaginal cream doesn't require the same screening as the pills and patches used in hormone replacement do, which might make things simpler for you.
4. Make Sure You're Being Monitored If You Have These Conditions
If you have diabetes, you definitely need to be aware of how hormone changes like the ones that happen during pregnancy might affect things, because, after all, insulin is a hormone.
"Pregnancy’s a state of insulin resistance," Bhabhra says, which means that, if you have diabetes, your insulin needs will probably be higher when you're pregnant than when you're not. Plus, Bhabhra cautions, if you develop gestational diabetes when you're pregnant, you'll definitely need to make sure that you're being watched carefully and screened for diabetes after you've given birth because gestational diabetes can increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later on.
5. Eat A High-Protein Breakfast
Fitness reported that a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that breakfasts that are especially high in protein can increase levels of peptide YY — a hormone that deals with satiety — all day long, making it less likely that you'll reach for the snack bowl later. If your hormones seem to be out of whack and you suspect that's what's causing you to gain a little bit of weight, swapping your carb-heavy breakfast for protein might help.
6. Talk To Your Doctor Or A Specialist About Selenium Or A Gluten-Free Diet
Though she cautions that there's no good scientific evidence for this, Bhabhra notes that some endocrinologists have begun to use selenium with patients. It's typically a good idea to talk to your doctor, however, before jumping all-in with supplements rather than sort of guessing and going it alone. And this method likely needs further study to know if it can make a difference or not.
Bhabhra also says that she's seen some patients with "autoimmune hypothyroidism" experience success with a gluten-free diet, which left them feeling significantly better. Again, while you might think that just trying a gluten-free diet for a bit wouldn't hurt, it can still be a good idea to talk things over with your doctor or endocrinologist so that everyone is on the same page.
7. Eat Foods High In Vitamin C
If you notice you've been more fatigued and worn down than usual, eating more foods that are high in vitamin C might help. The aforementioned article from Fitness noted that a study published in Fertility & Sterility found that vitamin C might help women with a progesterone deficiency.
Though you might not know for sure if your hormone levels have changed if you don't have a condition like hypothyroidism, diabetes, menopause, or PCOS, if you suspect that there might be something going on with your endocrine system that's making you fatigued, gain weight, or struggle with stress, making little changes to your diet and lifestyle (and talking to your doctor) might help you get back to feeling better sooner rather than later.
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