Can sedentary lifestyle, mental stress lead to hormonal imbalance in middle-aged women?


Many females experience hormonal fluctuation at some point in their lives. Hormonal imbalance strikes-in when the endocrine gland fails to function appropriately. It occurs owing to diabetes, stress, a sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, and improper eating habits. Hormonal imbalance causes PCOD, thyroid problems, and infertility. In order to keep the condition at bay, one must stick to a well-balanced diet, get some physical activity, and sleep well, say experts.

Dr Kaishreen Khan, obstetrician and gynaecologist, Apollo Clinic Pune says, “Females in the middle-aged group — 20-50 years — encounter hormonal imbalance due to a sedentary lifestyle, mental stress, a high percentage of body fat or an over or underactive thyroid. The symptoms of hormonal imbalance are mood swings, poor sleep, low libido, weight gain, anxiety, tiredness, heavy and painful periods, irregular periods, delayed menses or early menses, excessive facial hair, acne, fatigue, and anxiety. Hormonal imbalance can also cause PCOD and infertility.”

Hormones can be termed as messengers in one’s body. They tell you what to do and when. Hormones regulate one’s mood, body temperature, sleep, growth, appetite, stress, metabolism, and reproductive cycles. Hormonal imbalance in females can be seen during puberty, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and menopause. It indicates a fluctuation in one’s estrogen, progesterone, thyroxine, prolactin, and cortisol levels. Many factors give a tough time to the endocrine system causing fluctuation of the hormones.

stress, females Are you taking care of yourself? (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

Dr Khan added that the treatment of hormonal imbalance depends on the underlying cause and “may vary from person-to-person”. “Your doctor will be able to determine the right kind of treatment for you. Along with treatment, you will also have to follow some lifestyle modifications such as getting sound sleep at night, exercising daily for half-an-hour, eating a well-balanced diet, and maintaining an optimum weight. Minimise the intake of sugary and packaged foods and schedule regular health check-ups,” she explained.

“Opt for blood tests in order to check your overall all health — thyroid, estrogen, prolactin, testosterone, cortisol levels. A complete blood count (CBC) test is recommended to identify general infection, iron studies to look for iron deficiency or anaemia. Since the bone disease is common in women, calcium and vitamin D are recommended. Along with this cholesterol, glucose levels and liver check is also needed,” said Dr Prerna Agarwal, technical operations, Apollo Diagnostics.

Regular screening of breast and cervical cancer is required to look for tumours, lumps, and cysts. Females should opt for PapSmear tests right from the age of 20, added Dr Agarwal. “Do PapSmear once a year for three consecutive years and if the sample is negative then do it after every three years till you are 65. It is also essential to do breast self-examination after every menses to spot any abnormalities in the breast as early diagnosis and treatment can reduce morbidity and mortality rates,” she said.

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