As women, our hormones are one of the most important aspects of our health and wellbeing. Your hormones change throughout the month, influencing mood, weight, energy levels, cravings, and more. When your hormones are in balance, you feel great — happy, energetic, confident, focused, and in control of your life.
But if your hormones fall out of balance, you can face just the opposite: mood swings, food cravings, sudden weight gain, low libido, skin problems, hair loss, heavy, irregular, or absent periods, anxiety, and more.
As an integrative physician, I’ve spent the last decade working with thousands of women. One of the most common health challenges I see is hormonal imbalance. A lot of women struggle with sex homones, especially estrogen and progesterone imbalances that disrupt your cycle and cause the variety of health issues listed above.
After working with thousands of patients, I’ve come up with a few simple, effective ways to balance your hormones naturally. Here are my top three strategies for balancing your hormones.
1) Rest and destress (especially if it’s hard for you)
Chronic stress is one of the top causes of hormone imbalance. Stress impacts a wide variety of hormones, disrupting your metabolism, sex drive, thyroid health, brain function, and more .
Relaxing is essential for your health, especially if you’re a woman. On average, we’re significantly more stressed than men are (although, on the plus side, we live about 8 years longer) .
It can be hard to relax, particularly in today’s busy world, but it’s more important than ever. Make it a point to include de-stressing activities in your life. Schedule a vacation, get a massage, go for walks in nature, go out and have fun.
If you struggle to make time for yourself, force yourself to do it anyway, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. A lot of people feel guilty, unproductive, selfish, and so on when they take care of themselves. That’s okay; relaxing is a skill, and you may have to do it a few times before you can truly let go and enjoy yourself. Keep at it until you’ve brought more balance into your life. Your hormones and your health will be much better for it.
2) Exercise regularly
Moving your body is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Exercise is amazing for just about every part of you, and that includes your hormones.
A study in women found that exercise improves imbalances in estrogen, testosterone, and other circulating sex hormones . Any type of physical activity works, whether it’s walking or heavy lifting. That said, the study found that more intense exercise had a greater effect on sex hormone balance.
You don’t have to go straight to working out five times a week — in fact, if you put that kind of pressure on yourself, you’re more likely to quit. Instead, focus on sustainable exercise. One or two workout sessions a week for six months is better than working out every day for two weeks, getting overwhelmed, and then giving up.
Also, keep in mind that you can do whatever kind of exercise feels good to you. Walking, sprinting, lifting weights, dance classes, yoga — find something you love and make it a part of your life.
3) Get deeper, more restorative sleep
A good night’s sleep is amazing for your hormones. When you sleep, your body releases several important hormones, including human growth hormone and testosterone (which is important for women!), and also regulates your cortisol levels, which manages stress .
On the other hand, not getting enough sleep or getting low-quality sleep disrupts a wide variety of hormones that impact your metabolism, mood, brain function, hunger, and more [4,5].
Ideally, you want to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. There are four stages of sleep, and you’ll feel your best if you get lots of stage 3 and stage 4 sleep — the deepest, most restorative types of sleep.
There are a few ways to get deeper sleep. Exercise helps, as does limiting screen time after sunset (blue light from electronics disrupts melatonin, your body’s main sleep hormone).
Blacking out your room is another great way to improve your sleep quality. Use room-darkening shades or curtains on your windows, and cover up any small light sources (smoke alarms, internet routers, clocks, etc.). Your goal is to make your room dark enough that you can’t see your hand if you hold it a few inches in front of your face.
You can also try Sleep Savior, an all-natural sleep supplement I made for my patients. It contains melatonin, the natural sleep hormone you release at night, as well as calming magnesium and magnolia bark extract, all of which work together to promote a healthy night’s rest.
Balance your hormones naturally
If you struggle with fatigue, mood swings, weight gain, or heavy/irregular periods, you may have a sex hormone imbalance. These lifestyle changes will help balance your sex hormones and will make a huge difference in how you feel day-to-day. Give them a try and see how you feel.
And while you’re here, why not take my Power Type Quiz? It’s a free quiz that gives you personalized health and lifestyle advice, based on your unique body.
- Ranabir, S., & Reetu, K. (2011). Stress and hormones. Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 15(1), 18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079864/
- Mayor, E. (2015). Gender roles and traits in stress and health. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 779. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4460297/
- Ennour-Idrissi, K., Maunsell, E., & Diorio, C. (2015). Effect of physical activity on sex hormones in women: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Breast Cancer Research, 17(1), 139. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4635995/
- Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (2010). Role of sleep and sleep loss in hormonal release and metabolism. In Pediatric Neuroendocrinology (Vol. 17, pp. 11-21). Karger Publishers. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3065172/
- Spiegel, K., Leproult, R., & Van Cauter, E. (1999). Impact of sleep debt on metabolic and endocrine function. The lancet, 354(9188), 1435-1439. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10543671