Achieving and maintaining hormonal balance – at all stages of life

All women have hormonal rhythms that shift and change over time. From adolescence, the roaring twenties and childbearing years to perimenopause and menopause, each phase often has distinct hormone patterns which we can track and follow to achieve optimum vitality.

Sadly women have been left behind a little by modern medicine, which barely recognizes the stages of life we go through. Many medicines and treatments are created for and tested on men only. Menopause and infertility in particular are taboo subjects in modern society with little understanding in allopathic medicine, whilst conditions such as endometriosis and PCOS are often underdiagnosed. Women’s health is also far from holistic – focusing only on individual elements or symptoms and not how they can be linked together within the bigger picture.

Fortunately we can turn to Ayurveda and other traditional eastern medicinal practices to support us as we go through each remarkable phase, from our early years to old age.

Hormonal balance is key at every life stage

There’s one quite simple secret to vitality at any age that many women aren’t often aware of. When our hormones are in balance, whatever stage of life we are at, we feel calmer, happier, energetic and healthy. Many health issues that commonly affect women including anxiety, chronic fatigue and depression can be caused by hormonal imbalance. So the key to better health is understanding our hormones, how they affect us and how we can help create better balance in the body with a combination of clinical intervention, holistic healing and lifestyle changes.

This compact guide provides some information on what to expect at every stage of life, some potential concerns to look out for and ways you can support your body to remain in balance, healthier and happier at any age.


During adolescence hormone levels are rapidly changing and readjusting. It can be a difficult time, navigating and getting used to the changes we’re experiencing within our mind and body as we reach maturity.

Hormones are the catalyst for the myriad of changes taking place during this time within your body and brain – both seen (hair, breast development, body shape changes) and unseen (changes to our reproductive system).

During this time periods also begin. Varying levels of estrogen, progesterone and testosterone begin to fluctuate, triggering the lining of the womb to break down. Periods can start as young as 8, or as late as age 17 – everyone is different in this respect, and the onset of periods along with characteristics such as flow and length are determined by your unique hormonal composition. Once periods begin they can be irregular or missing entirely for months at a time. This is usually normal at first, but if it persists, ask your MD for professional advice.

Throughout adolescence high androgens can cause teens to develop acne. Skincare at this age is vital – moving away from harsh cleansers and irritating, corrosive acne treatments and instead treating acne gently and efficiently to protect delicate young skin for the future.

During these younger years many women also display early signs of PCOS and endometriosis. These are commonly missed (or dismissed) by doctors as simply heavy or painful periods, but it’s crucial that any signs of illness are picked up during these early years and are not ignored. If you suspect something is wrong, be persistent and ask for diagnostics and explore your options to ensure everything is normal. When captured early, both PCOS and endometriosis can be easier to treat.

In your twenties and thirties

Our most fertile years are numerous and look different for everybody. Some women have children early, others later on towards the end of their fertility ‘window’ or beyond – some choose not to have children at all. Whichever path you choose has unique implications from a hormonal perspective. Pregnancy, for example involves massive hormonal changes which continue post-partum. Miscarriage is more common during these years; depending on the circumstances this can also impact on our hormones and health.

An increasing number of women are spending many of their twenties and thirties on contraceptives, which can prevent us from having a clear view of their actual hormone levels and balance. There’s nothing wrong with hormonal contraception, but be aware that while your hormones are altered in this way there can be positive and negative side-effects.

During this time it is especially important to pay attention to the thyroid and evaluate for estrogen dominance and low progesterone. For women in their twenties and thirties, experiencing symptoms of hormonal imbalance (which mimic perimenopausal symptoms) can be distressing. These include hair loss, weight gain, reduced libido, bloating and breast tenderness. There are a number of causes of estrogen dominance including external sources of estrogen in our environment and diets (endocrine disruptors), chronic stress and thyroid conditions. If you suspect your estrogen is imbalanced, speak to a health practitioner who can put together a treatment pathway for you.

In your forties

During our late thirties and early forties the beginnings of perimenopause can cause our hormone balance to waiver, as our bodies begin to produce less estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. This is when symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats and reduced libido start to appear.

This time can be distressing for many women, who feel out of control and taken over by their symptoms with little support. It’s crucial to seek out help with perimenopause without shame or embarrassment. There are so many things we can do to ease discomfort during this period of time and reduce the severity of symptoms to help restore balance and a sense of normalcy to your life.

During these years we also find our metabolism can slow, making it harder to lose weight. Lower progesterone levels can result in higher cortisol levels and higher insulin, which can further compound this problem. Eating as healthily as possible and paying attention to your hormones can help to alleviate this, as can targeted exercise.

In your fifties and beyond

During your fifties and sixties the menopause occurs. This is when the symptoms of perimenopause intensify, or for some begin to waiver depending on how early the process started for you.

As the menopause comes to an end expect lots of hormone fluctuations and intense symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and night sweats. Any treatment you have been accessing for perimenopause will still be relevant during this time, but may need to be adjusted.

HRT isn’t the only option as far as treatments for menopause are concerned – but it’s also highly effective for lots of women. There are also plenty of holistic methods to support your body and mind through this time and ease the severity of symptoms. It’s all about finding the right fit for you, and seeking out support when needed.

Although this final transition is seen in contemporary society as ‘the end of the road’ and the ‘death of fertility’, in ancient cultures this was seen as a second ‘coming of age’, when we transition into the wiser woman, the elder, embarking on a wonderful new chapter. It’s a beautiful time of life that should be celebrated, not shied away from!

Post-menopause (usually after the age of 55) estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels will be lower than they were during menstruating years, but they should be in balance. Keep checking in with and listening to your body, pay attention to your health in a holistic sense and take care of your body with a nutrient-rich diet focused on gut health and whole foods.

Happy, healthy hormones at any age

Women’s health is complex and many don’t fully appreciate how much our mental and physical wellbeing can be influenced by hormones. Understanding the various life stages we go through and what processes are taking place in our bodies at each phase can help us to better navigate life’s ups and downs.