How best does one begin to describe summer and the festive season in Mzansi to a person who has never experienced it before? It is really “vibes” for me! The scorching heat and bright flowers signal that it is officially content-creating season for a generation that is obsessed with the perfect snaps and a well-curated Instagram feed. Colourful crop tops, tiny shorts, and snapping-sounding flip flops, all reveal parts of our bodies that have been concealed during the winter months – now we get the opportunity to bare it all with joy and confidence.

However, summer is also that time of the year of unsolicited opinions and advice from just about everyone who is moved by what they deem another person’s imperfections that “need” to be corrected. As if one does not have their own mirror, there is the constant reminder of the weight gain, cellulite, stretch marks, and skin disorders on our bodies. Being one who gets the Serena Williams of breakouts on my face, especially when it is that time of the month, I have heard it all. If it is not “Isichitho”, there’s the lack of sexual activity I am allegedly not engaging in; all supposedly causes of what appears on my face, according to the vast number of medical practitioners without degrees.

A conversation with an old acquaintance first enlightened me about “hormonal imbalances”. I set about doing some more research, and according to the Cleveland Clinic website, “A hormonal imbalance happens when you have too much or too little of one or more hormones. It’s a broad term that can represent many different hormone-related conditions. Hormones are powerful signals. For many hormones, having even slightly too much or too little of them can cause major changes to your body and lead to certain conditions that require treatment. Some hormonal imbalances can be temporary while others are chronic (long term).”

Some of the most common symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, especially in women, include:
Irregular periods
Acne on the chest or upper back
Hair loss
Hyperpigmentation and skin discoloration
Unexplained weight gain or loss

The causes of hormonal imbalance are quite broad; they do however include medication, eating disorders, stress, injury or trauma, or hormone therapy – but they are not limited to these.

And how do we treat a hormonal imbalance?

First and foremost, one needs to visit a qualified general practitioner for a proper diagnosis. It is always important to note that having the symptoms above may not necessarily mean one has a hormonal imbalance. They will then ask you questions like determining your family history, and proceed to run the appropriate tests, and prescribe the best possible treatment for you. The most common would be hormonal replacement therapy (the right kind tailored to suit one’s body ); this can either be through oral medication or injection medication. I do recall my acquaintance having to start on the prescribed oral contraceptives.
However, there are natural ways that have been widely recommended as a way to treat hormonal imbalance like regular exercise, eating enough protein, lowering sugar intake, stress reduction, getting enough quality sleep and maintaining a moderate weight. There is also the option of over-the-counter medications.
It is important to note that all this may not work for everyone. What would work though is people minding their own business and not feeling the need to further dampen someone’s mood. A lot of this affects our self-esteem and is bound to cause mental health issues in many. We can all choose to be mindful of what we say to others and how it may all land, and rather revert to appreciating the summer with joyful abandon!

Tell us: What is the best thing and what is the worst thing about the summer season?