How to Balance Hormones Naturally

Updated: Jul 21

Hormonal balance is vital to a healthy body and mind as hormones control many processes in the body from metabolism to reproduction to mood. Hormonal fluctuations can occur naturally throughout the lifecycle, such as in puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, perimenopause, and menopause. In addition to lifecycle changes, women’s hormones function in a delicate balance that can be easily thrown off by factors like diet, stress levels, sleep, exercise, and environment.

How do you know if you’re experiencing hormone-related issues? While symptoms can be similar to other health-related issues, hormonal imbalance may show itself as weight gain, fatigue, sensitivity to cold or heat, constipation or more frequent bowel movements, dry skin, thinning hair, infertility, decreased sex drive, depression, increased hunger, pain or stiffness in joints, and more. For females of reproductive age, hormonal imbalance may include heavy or irregular periods, hirsutism (excessive hair on the face or other parts of the body), acne, hair loss, vaginal dryness, pain during sex, night sweats, and headaches.

Here’s the good news (yes, there’s good news!)—while medication can’t always be avoided, there are things that are within your control that may help alleviate symptoms. Unfortunately, you cannot control age and natural lifecycle stages. However, you can control certain lifestyle factors that may help to balance hormones. Understanding what you can control can empower and equip you to make the best decisions for your health, helping you feel better, think better and do the best you can to care for your body and mind.

Glands and hormones they produce and secrete
Glands and hormones they produce and secrete, photo credit:

What are hormones

Hormones are like little chemical messengers that have a lot to say. They are produced and secreted from glands in your body to your tissues and organs, regulating body functions. The entire system is called the endocrine system. For example, your thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism and body temperature. Your ovaries produce sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone, which regulate your menstrual cycle, fertility, and pregnancy, and also support bone health. When you eat, your pancreas secretes insulin to take glucose (sugar that’s converted from the food you consume) from your blood to your cells, where it’s either used as energy or stored as fat (in the case of excess calories). Hormones that control appetite include peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1), which are secreted in the gut when you eat a meal containing fiber. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland. It’s responsible for regulating your circadian rhythms, helping with quality sleep. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in the adrenal glands. When its secretion is balanced, it plays a key role in metabolism, immune function, and blood pressure, and is your natural morning nudge telling you to wake up. However, it’s often termed the “stress hormone” because it is also released during times of stress. Too much cortisol can be problematic as it’s been associated with weight gain, anxiety, depression, and risk factors for heart disease when it’s elevated long-term. (There are more, but, I don't think you came for a full science class!)