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23 May, 2024

The 5 most common hormone imbalances & what to do about them

FUTURE WOMAN is on a mission to fix women’s hormones, naturally. They help 1,000s of women every month to reduce their symptoms of hormone imbalance, offering personalised nutrition plans powered by at-home hormone testing. They don't just look at overall hormone levels, but also hormone metabolism and other contributing factors to hormone health like stress, nutrients and inflammation to provide a complete picture. 92% of their clients feel better after just 6 weeks of following their personalised nutrition plan. In this article, Francesca Lyon, lead nutritionist at hormone testing company FUTURE WOMAN, explores the 5 most common hormone imbalances she sees in her practice and what to do about them.


1. PMS and unopposed oestrogen

Up to 90% of women experience PMS at some point in their lifetime and, frustratingly, it can get worse in our 40s as we start to go through perimenopause. The usual culprit for PMS is something we call ‘unopposed oestrogen’ - this basically means that oestrogen is not kept in check by its sister hormone, progesterone. In a healthy ovulatory menstrual cycle, we should be making 100x more progesterone than oestrogen. But if progesterone levels are low (due to lack of ovulation), or oestrogen levels are too high or aren’t being metabolised properly via the liver and gut, then this ratio can get thrown off balance. Signs you are struggling with unopposed oestrogen include heavy or painful periods, tender breasts, irritability, poor sleep, skin breakouts, allergy-type symptoms and uterine growths like fibroids.

I think I have unopposed oestrogen, what should I do?

  1. Test progesterone, oestrogen and your oestrogen metabolism pathways: this will confirm that unopposed oestrogen is really what’s going on for you. We recommend our Advanced Hormone Test, which tests in urine in the middle of your luteal phase to get the best reading of all three.
  2. Increase your cruciferous vegetables. Research has shown that cruciferous vegetables help support the metabolism and detoxification of oestrogen, Increase foods like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale, our favorite way to do this is to sneak a handful into a smoothie!

2. Stressed out with high cortisol

One of the most common hormonal patterns that we see at FUTURE WOMAN is symptoms of hormone imbalances caused by underlying high cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone produced by our adrenal glands in response to a stressor. This stressor can be perceived stress (family, work, relationships) or physical stress (infections, inflammation, lack of sleep, toxins, too much exercise).

As women, when cortisol is too high, the body will prioritise survival over reproduction. This can lead to irregular or missing periods in younger women, or symptoms of unopposed oestrogen due to missed ovulation in more mature women. Interestingly, if your cortisol output has been high for too long, you may end up with low cortisol - the body isn’t able to keep up with the demand and so levels drop.

Signs that your cortisol may be too high include feeling wired, heart palpitations, insomnia or poor sleep, weight gain (especially around the middle), headaches, increased irritability, irregular periods and new symptoms like heavy or painful periods.

I think I have high cortisol, what should I do?

  1. Test your cortisol levels: for a complete assessment it’s important to look at not just free cortisol levels (which represents less than 5% of your total output), but also metabolised cortisol levels (how much is produced and cleared during one day). We recommend our Advanced Hormone Test, which assesses both alongside your reproductive hormones, and comes with a personalised plan to address any imbalances.
  2. Increase your magnesium intake. You can do this through diet by eating more nuts, seeds and green leafy veggies, or you can try a magnesium glycinate supplement to boost your magnesium and support healthy cortisol levels.

3. Irregular periods and fertility issues with high androgens

Androgens, like testosterone, aren’t just for men! This group of hormones is vitally important to our overall reproductive health as women. And when levels are too high, it can lead to irregular periods and difficulties getting pregnant by preventing ovulation from occuring. The most common disorder of high androgens is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which affects 1 in 10 women. You might be surprised to know that there are many different androgens to consider, not just testosterone! And like oestrogen, we need to look at how well our androgens are metabolised too.

A metabolite of testosterone called 5-DHT is dominant in women with PCOS about 40% of the time - and this metabolite is THREE times more potent than testosterone. Hormone metabolites can only be tested in urine.

Signs your androgens (or androgen metabolites) are too high include irregular or missing periods, excess facial hair, head hair loss, acne, weight gain and fertility issues.

I think my androgens are high, what should I do?

  1. Test all androgens and androgen metabolites. Any of your androgens or androgen metabolites can be raised and causing your symptoms - if you’re just testing testosterone you’re not getting the full picture. Again, we recommend the Advanced Hormone Test for this - your practitioner will make targeted recommendations to reduce androgen levels as part of your free personalised plan.
  2. Increasevzinc containing foods like seafood, nuts, seeds and leafy greens into your diet to support the reduction of androgens.

4. Weight gain and fatigue with an underactive thyroid

The thyroid is a gland that must be explored when talking about women's hormone health. One of its main roles is to regulate the metabolism of the body, and this includes regulating your menstrual cycle. The most common thyroid imbalance we see at FUTURE WOMAN is an underactive thyroid.

When the thyroid is underactive (also known as hypothyroidism) it causes the metabolism to slow down resulting in weight gain, low energy and many other symptoms including cold extremities, depression, constipation, dry skin, heavy periods and irregular periods. The thyroid can be affected by many different factors including poor diet, stress, environmental toxins, gut health, pregnancy and more.

I think I have an underactive thyroid, what should I do?

  1. Get a full thyroid panel. It is very important to check your thyroid hormones in a full thyroid panel. Typically a GP will just test only your TSH but this is not enough. It is important to also test T4, T3, thyroid antibodies and nutrients like ferritin, B12 and Vitamin D which impact thyroid health. We offer a Thyroid and Vitamin Panel at FUTURE WOMAN that also comes with a personalised plan.
  2. Support your blood sugar levels to support your hormone and thyroid health. This is one of the best ways to support the thyroid and healthy hormones. Start by prioritising protein at every meal and incorporating a low carbohydrate breakfast such as eggs and vegetables or a protein smoothie with nuts and berries.

5. Brain fog, low mood and missing periods with low oestrogen

Low oestrogen is a common and often overlooked hormone imbalance as much of the spotlight is often on high oestrogen. When oestrogen is too low, there is a high likelihood that ovulation does not occur - oestrogen needs to reach a certain threshold in order to trigger ovulation. This can lead to missing or irregular periods.

Like all our hormones, oestrogen plays a bigger role in the body than just reproduction. So other symptoms associated with low oestrogen include aches and pains, abdominal weight gain, hot flushes and night sweats, low mood, vaginal dryness and dry skin. Low oestrogen in pre menopausal women is often linked to stress.

We see many young women presenting with low oestrogen and missing periods who are experience high levels of stress, too much exercise and aren’t eating enough.

I think my oestrogen is low, what should I do?

  1. Test oestrogen and oestrogen metabolism. First we need to confirm if your oestrogen is low and in conjunction with this we need to understand your oestrogen detoxification pathways to ensure this is not contributing to the fast removal of oestrogen. Other factors like cortisol and nutrients must also be assessed to understand possible root causes. We recommend our Advanced Hormone Test to get the full picture.
  2. Incorporate good quality fats into every meal to support overall hormone production, including oestrogen. Sources of good fats include lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, butter and olive oil.

FUTURE WOMAN are offering a FREE 25 minute online consultation with a FUTURE WOMAN hormone expert (usually £45), to discuss your hormone health in more detail and understand the best next steps for you. Here's a link to your 25 minute consultation. Use the code is DETOX25 to get it for free.


Our 10-Day Balance Plan was created to help you slow down via a full holistic health experience whilst, reconnect with your body and mind and prioritise your hormones for an optimal female health experience. Complete with a daily fresh meal plan to target gut health and balance blood sugar levels and a complimentary gift bag of premium products to compliment your wellbeing experience. Discover more here. For a shorter-term reset, discover our 3-Day Reset here to restore and rebuild your gut microbiome and kickstart your health journey to happier hormones.