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Liver and hormone imbalance: What you need to know

Liver and hormone imbalance: What you need to know

Read on to learn more about the relationship between the liver and your hormones, and how it can impact your health.

Lifestyle insight

What does the liver do?

The liver is the second largest organ in the body, your skin being the largest. Did you know your liver is even larger than your brain? 

Playing many crucial roles in the body, the liver is responsible for:

  • Filtering the blood coming from the digestive tract before passing it to the rest of the body
  • Breaking down hormones once they have been used by the body
  • Metabolising drugs
  • Producing proteins important for blood clotting and other functions
  • Processing food nutrients.

How does the liver relate to hormone imbalance?

One of the liver’s roles is to help regulate the balance of sex hormones, thyroid hormones, cortisone and other adrenal hormones. The liver transforms or removes any excess hormones from the body.

Like all organs, your liver health can be impacted by a range of factors. Drinking too much, certain medications or diseases, infections, accumulation of fat in the liver and genetic factors can contribute to liver problems.

If your liver is not functioning optimally, or if you have a liver condition, then your liver may not be able to properly remove oestrogen at its normal rate. That means oestrogen can be poorly metabolised and can get reabsorbed in the body, leading to a hormonal imbalance.

Symptoms of hormone imbalance

Hormonal imbalances may occur when there is too much or too little of a hormone in the bloodstream. Hormonal imbalance can affect people with liver conditions, where symptoms can include a loss of libido, fatigue and mood symptoms.

Hormonal imbalances can be associated with symptoms related to:

  • Weight - unexplained weight gain or weight loss
  • Mood - irritability, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, fatigue
  • Physical - unexplained or excessive sweating, changes in sensitivity to cold and heat
  • Skin - dry skin or rashes
  • Heart - changes in blood pressure or heart rate
  • Bones - brittle or weak bones
  • Digestion - bloating, changes in blood sugar concentration
  • Sex - reduced sex drive

Promoting liver health for optimal hormonal health

Hormonal imbalances can be addressed with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes. It’s also important to treat any underlying cause of poor liver function, too. Your healthcare professional is the best person to test your liver and develop a personalised treatment plan.

Generally, to promote good liver health, it is essential to:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a balanced diet, including plenty of fibre
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid illicit drugs
  • Stick to the recommended alcohol limits as set by Australian guidelines, as alcohol impairs liver function

How can I check the health of my liver and see if it is related to hormone imbalance?

If you suspect a sluggish liver and/or hormonal imbalance, your healthcare professional is your first point of call as they can provide you with support to best manage your health.

References available on request.

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