13 Ways to Balance Hormones Naturally (Lifestyle Guide)
Is it possible to balance hormones naturally?
How to balance hormones naturally
Signs of a hormone imbalance
Understanding hormone imbalance
Hormone regulation FAQ
Invisible to the eye but undeniably important, hormones are our body’s “chemical messengers” that influence everything from our mood and metabolism to our reproductive health and ability to get pregnant.
However, with over 50 different hormones in the body, it’s easy to find ourselves experiencing a hormonal imbalance. That’s because our hormones are easily affected by normal parts of our life – such as the things that we eat and drink, how much sleep we get, and how stressed out we are.
The good news though is that there are things we can do each day to make sure our hormones stay in check. Read on to learn more about the importance of balancing your hormones, how to do this naturally, and how to get your hormones tested.
Is it possible to balance hormones naturally?
Yes. There are scientifically-backed ways to balance your hormones naturally and without medication. For example, certain dietary and lifestyle changes can have a profound impact on hormone levels and how your body functions.
However, it’s important to note that not all hormonal challenges can be resolved naturally. More serious endocrine conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or hypothyroidism may require medical intervention and/or medication.
How to balance hormones naturally
Track your cycle
As you already know, the menstrual cycle is a key driver of hormonal changes. And when looking to balance your hormones, a great place to start is by tracking your cycle and paying attention to how you feel at every phase. In doing so, you will quickly learn that your body gives hints as your hormones change.
If your reason for balancing your hormones is to get pregnant, the Mira Fertility Tracker is a great tool to have on hand as it measures your reproductive hormones quantitatively. This allows you to accurately monitor your unique hormone patterns.
Another way to keep your hormones in check is by making sleep a priority. This is because when we do not get enough sleep, it can begin to have a negative impact on our immune system, fertility, weight, and overall sense of wellbeing.
For adults, doctors often recommend getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night. If you are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, bear in mind the following tips:
- Avoid watching TV or using your phone for at least 2 hours before going to bed. This is because the blue light from electronic devices can interfere with your melatonin levels.
- Create favorable sleeping conditions in your bedroom by eliminating all sounds, using a blackout curtain, and turning off all lights.
- Try to refrain from eating or drinking before going to bed.
Chronic stress can interfere with your body’s adrenaline and cortisol levels, resulting in prolonged hormonal imbalance. This imbalance can then disrupt your appetite, metabolism, ovulation patterns, skin health, and more.
To ease symptoms of stress, consider trying meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, or a warm bath. All of these methods are proven to help promote relaxation, release anxious thoughts and tension, and reduce stress.
To learn more about the impact of stress and getting pregnant, check out our article Stress and Fertility: How It’s Connected and How to Manage It.
Maintain a healthy weight
Balancing hormones is so much easier if you are at a healthy weight. This is because being overweight may cause disruptions to your insulin, leptin, ghrelin, cortisol, and estrogen levels. And when these hormones are out of balance, it’s common to experience feelings of fatigue, low energy, and increased appetite – all of which contribute to further weight gain.
Breaking this vicious cycle is not easy, however, there are certain lifestyle habits you can make each day that may help. This includes:
- Doing at least 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each day.
- Drinking plenty of water.
- Planning healthy meals ahead of time.
- Joining a weight-loss support group.
- Speaking with your doctor, nutritionist, and/or fitness trainer for further assistance.
Minimize bad habits
Smoking, drinking, and drug use can have a negative impact on your hormone levels. For example, alcohol is known to cause cortisol and estrogen levels to rise. In turn, this may affect your fertility, overall health, and blood sugar levels.
For more information on drinking and fertility, check out our article How Drinking While TTC Affects Your Fertility & Pregnancy.
Avoid harmful chemicals
Certain chemicals found in everyday products may have a negative impact on the way your hormones work. Known as “endocrine disruptors”, these chemicals have been linked with certain problems with growth and development, reproductive health, and the immune system.
The most common endocrine disruptors include:
- Bisphenol A (BPA) – found in plastic products and packaging
- Phthalates – also found in plastic products, packaging, and cosmetics
- Triclosan – found in hand soaps, body wash, and cosmetics
While it may not be possible to avoid these chemicals altogether, there are a few things you can do to limit your exposure. This includes:
- Ditching plastic containers in favor of glass.
- Do not use a plastic lid to drink your hot coffee.
- Try to use organic and non-toxic personal care products and makeup.
- Stick with natural materials for your clothes and shoes.
Physical activity works wonders for our hormones. Even low-impact exercises, such as regular long-distance walking, can be extremely helpful for keeping your body toned and your weight in check (even on your period). Exercise is also known to help regulate the growth hormone, along with reducing the risk of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.
If you find yourself struggling to get into a good exercise routine, consider the following tips:
- Find an exercise that you genuinely enjoy.
- Set small goals at the beginning and work your way to bigger goals.
- Take it one day at a time, and do not get discouraged if you miss a day or session.
Reduce sugar intake
Foods and drinks that are high in sugar are known to cause disruptions to hormone levels, particularly insulin. And when sugar is consumed at high levels consistently over time, this can lead to insulin resistance, weight gain, obesity, and in many cases prediabetes or diabetes.
The American Heart Association (AHA) lists soft drinks, candy, cakes, fruit drinks, and dairy desserts as major sources of sugar in the modern American diet. They then suggest that women and men should have no more than 100 and 150 calories of added sugar per day, respectively.
If you are used to frequently consuming sugary foods or drinks, consider the following tips:
- Say no to added sugar, syrups, and sweeteners in your morning tea or coffee.
- Sweeten recipes with fruit instead of table sugar.
- Swap sugary drinks and juices with water.
Consider natural supplements
In a perfect world, we would get all of our nutrients from food, stay properly hydrated with water, and spend enough time in the sun to get plenty of Vitamin D. The result would be perfectly healthy bodies and well-balanced hormones.
However, the reality is that sometimes we need some help from supplements. The following vitamins and supplements may help to keep your overall health and hormone levels in balance:
- General multivitamin
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B
Review your medications
Medications can undoubtedly have an impact on your hormone levels. For example, research shows that drugs may cause the body to either increase production of a certain hormone or even cause disruptions with how it is metabolized.
That’s why, if you are looking to balance your hormones naturally, it might be worth having your doctor review all of the medications that you are taking. He or she may be able to help you find safe and appropriate alternatives that will not disrupt your natural hormone levels.
Consume healthy fats
Surprisingly, not all fats are bad for your body. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are considered healthy because they help to regulate your blood sugar, curb your appetite, and supply your body with plenty of energy.
To incorporate more healthy fats into your diet, consider the following:
- Avoid foods high in trans fats, such as fried foods, shortening/margarine, and processed bakery items.
- Limit your intake of foods high in saturated fats, such as red meat, chicken skin, whole-fat dairy, and coconut/palm oils.
- Incorporate more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats into your diet such as olive oil, flaxseeds, tuna, and salmon.
For more tips on building a healthy diet while TTC, check out our article Pre-Pregnancy Diet: What Foods Should You Be Eating When TTC?
Keep your gut (health) happy
Our gut does so much more than just digest food. In fact, science has shown that our digestive health can have a profound impact on our mood, cognitive function, sleeping patterns, and ability to gain or lose weight. This is because it is estimated that approximately 95% of the hormone serotonin is stored in the gut – not to mention the fact that the balance of your gut bacteria can also influence your metabolism.
To get started, bear in mind the following tips:
- Incorporate more fiber into your diet by eating foods like beans and lentils, broccoli, apples and berries, whole grains, and avocados.
- Keep stress levels to a minimum.
- Consider taking a daily probiotic.
Use essential oils
If you’re a fan of essential oils, you’ll be excited to learn that research suggests that certain essential oils may help with inflammation, stress relief, and insomnia – all of which can influence the balance of your hormones.
For example, chamomile, eucalyptus, rosemary, lavender, and millefolia have all been found to aid with inflammation. There is also evidence that Lavandula Angustifolia, Citrus Sinensis, and Citrus Aurantium may ease symptoms of anxiety and worry.
If you’ve never used essential oils before, we recommend speaking with your doctor or a trained aromatherapist. They will be able to assess your situation and offer the most appropriate advice on how to get started.
Signs of a hormone imbalance
One of the tell-tale signs of a hormonal imbalance is weight fluctuations. For example, heightened cortisol levels may cause increased appetite and weight gain, whereas elevated leptin levels may cause the body to shed weight.
Acne is another symptom that may be a sign of hormonal imbalance. This is because elevated androgen levels are known to stimulate the oil glands in your skin, resulting in the appearance of acne.
Abnormal hair growth or hair loss
Heightened androgen levels are also often to blame for abnormal hair growth or hair loss. If hair loss is occurring, this may look like an overall thinning of the hair and can even cause male pattern baldness. In cases of unwanted hair growth, hair may begin to grow or thicken on the face, back, chest, or abdomen.
Irregular menstrual cycle
Even if just one of your fertility hormones is too high or too low, it can still cause broader disruptions to your period, ability to ovulate, and ability to get pregnant.
Difficulty with getting pregnant
If you and your partner have been trying to conceive for more than six months without any success, this may be a sign of hormonal imbalance.
Understanding hormone imbalance
Which hormones are to blame?
Even though each hormone plays a specific role in the body, there are a few key hormones to keep your eye on as they can influence many different lifestyle factors. Here is a brief overview of each.
- Cortisol: the stress hormone that may cause insomnia, anxiety, and increased heart rate.
- Thyroid hormones: can affect our metabolism, and can be an underlying cause of irregular periods, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and hair loss.
- Estrogen: a female sex hormone responsible for female physical features and reproduction.
- Progesterone: another female sex hormone vital for a healthy pregnancy.
- Testosterone: the primary male sex hormone that influences sex drive, bone health, acne, and body hair.
- Insulin: controls the sugar level in your body.
- Leptin: helps to regulate body weight.
- Ghrelin: the hunger hormone that signals the brain to eat.
- Melatonin: a hormone that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep.
What causes hormone imbalance?
There are three phases in a woman’s life that cause the hormones to be out of balance. This includes puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Experiencing a hormonal imbalance during each of these phases is completely natural, and it is common to experience symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes, increased irritability, irregular periods, sleep disruption, and changes in sex drive.
If you are experiencing a hormonal imbalance but you are not pregnant or undergoing puberty or menopause, this may be a sign of an underlying condition. For example, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) can both cause disruptions to your hormone levels.
Other potential causes of hormone imbalance include stress, trauma, disease, and being over/underweight.
How can a hormone imbalance affect your body?
Because hormones influence so many different parts of the body, a hormonal imbalance can disrupt the body in several ways.
For example, if estrogen and progesterone levels are out of balance, this may cause irregular periods, heavy periods, the inability to ovulate, and difficulties with getting pregnant. On the other hand, if testosterone levels are too high, this may lead to increased acne, unwanted hair growth, and/or male-patterned baldness. Other potential disruptions to your body include the inability to lose/gain weight, problems with sleep, and increased irritability or mood swings.
How can you test your hormones?
Testing your hormone levels can either be done at your doctor’s office or at home.
Testing at your doctor’s office will require a nurse to draw a blood sample, and then that sample will be tested at a laboratory. This type of test can measure any hormone in your body, and it is the most accurate testing method.
If you’d prefer to test your hormones from the comfort of your own home, there is a rise in popularity of at-home blood testing kits (such as Everlywell). Alternatively, it’s also possible to measure certain hormone levels at home through urine testing. For example, the Mira App and Analyzer is a great tool for measuring and tracking fertility hormones.
Hormone regulation FAQs
Can you overcome hormone imbalance?
Yes. It is possible to overcome a hormone imbalance. However, it may require serious lifestyle changes and in some cases medication.
Why are balanced hormones important?
When your hormones are in balance, it’s much easier to sleep, stay fit and healthy, and manage your stress levels. It’s also easier to plan (or prevent) a pregnancy. Not only that, but your overall well being can improve drastically when your hormones are operating together in harmony.
Can hormones be balanced without medication?
It depends. If your hormones are out of balance due to a lifestyle factor (such as lack of sleep, being over/underweight, or high stress levels), it is definitely possible to balance your hormones without medication.
However, if your hormonal imbalance is due to something outside of your control, such as PCOS or another underlying condition, you will likely require assistance from a doctor who may prescribe medication.