Is Balancing Your Hormones Actually Possible? Here Are The Facts Behind TikTok's Viral Trend

Head over to HealthTok — the health-conscious side of TikTok — and you'll find an abundance of tips, tricks, and explainers on every symptom and condition under the sun. And while the advice offered on the social media platform isn't always trustworthy (some users are legit medical doctors, while others are coaches or just regular people sharing information they've heard), it can often be quicker and more accessible than taking a trip to a physician's office.

You don't have to dig far to reach TikTok's super popular hormone hackers. These users create content claiming that fatigue, period cramps, bloating, headaches, and a range of other health issues are due to your hormones being out of whack. Then, their videos usually offer some kind of diet advice, supplement recommendation, or other "hack," packaged with hashtags like #hormonebalancing and #hormonehealth.

But is it even possible to change your hormone levels, and does the viral advice on social media actually work? Here's what you need to know about hormone hacking.

First, what is a hormonal imbalance?

Most hormone-related content on TikTok uses phrases like "hormonal imbalance" and "balance your hormones," but what even is a hormonal imbalance? For one thing, it's not a defined condition, according to Cleveland Clinic. Instead, it's a general term to describe a range of hormone issues. In fact, there are at least 50 types of hormones in the body, and if one of them is off, it could be considered a hormonal imbalance. Some wellness TikTokers choose to focus their videos on a single hormone, like cortisol or estrogen, though many refer to hormones more vaguely.

Hormonal imbalances can sometimes lead to other conditions including diabetes, thyroid disease, infertility, and acne. Even still, not everyone supports the hormone hype. "['Hormone balancing' is] such a generic term, and there are so many hormones — cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, insulin, thyroid hormones, growth hormones — all with various functions that don't really overlap," endocrinologist Dr. Arti Thangudu explained to PopSugar. In other words, hormone problems may not be as simple as TikTok would have you believe.

Hormone balancing, or just being healthy?

TikTok's hormone hackers tend to offer health and wellness advice you might see on other health-conscious corners of the platform. Take user Zoe Antonia's morning habits video as one example. In the clip, Antonia offers tips to keep your hormones balanced all day, including drinking a bottle of water, eating a healthy breakfast, and hitting the gym. By most definitions, these habits are healthy and promote a balanced lifestyle, though they aren't exactly unique to hormone health.

Endocrinologist Dr. Andrew Kraftson believes that the viral hormone content on TikTok may just be the same ol' health advice you'd hear at your doctor's office, only rebranded. "'Hormone balancing' seems like a catchy term, and it seems to make people feel like there are natural things they can do to make themselves feel better — and that's totally fine," he shared with PopSugar. "A lot of the tenets of health are based on boring but really good ideas, like getting enough sleep, getting the right kinds of nutrition, doing great things physically for your body. [...] I guess it's just not as exciting to say [all that] instead of, 'I'm doing this because of my hormones.'"

That doesn't mean you should ignore these healthy tips, especially if they actually make you feel better. However, their effects may have little to do with rebalancing your hormones.

Debunking Tik-Tok hormone hacks

Along with generally benign instructions to drink more water or go outside every day, TikTok is also filled with questionable — or even dangerous — hormone tips. In 2022, the #rawcarrotsalad trend took off, where content creators claimed that eating a daily bowl of carrots balances hormones and expels excess estrogen from the body. However, some doctors disagree with the concept. "The raw carrot salad trend falls into the category of not necessarily harmful, [but] probably not super beneficial," registered dietitian and nutritionist Melissa Groves Azzaro, who specializes in hormone health, told CNBC. File this one under debunked but still generally healthy.

Another hormone-related diet recommendation found on TikTok is to follow a low-carb, high-fat keto diet to balance hormones (insulin, in particular) and lose weight. According to Healthline, a ketogenic diet can promote weight loss and may benefit women who have insulin resistance. However, it can also wreak havoc on hormones in other ways, potentially spiking cortisol, interrupting the production of reproductive hormones, and upsetting thyroid function.

Another popular piece of advice is to go off birth control to rebalance hormones. Many TikTokers promote kicking the pill to the curb and using the rhythm method to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. However, this only works for those who are comfortable with the risk of pregnancy, have regular menstrual cycles, have been tested for STIs (along with their partner), and can commit to cycle tracking (via Medical News Today).

What actually works for balancing hormones?

While it's best to proceed with caution and do your research when trying TikTok trends, not all hormone-balancing methods on the app are bunk. In some cases, all-natural tweaks to your lifestyle can help keep your hormones in check. Some TikTokers, like Kasey Goins, tout the benefits of stabilizing your blood sugar levels for hormones. Goins specifically suggests packing protein into your meals — something that Healthline also says is important for your body to produce peptide hormones. Moreover, limiting sugars, especially added sugars, in your diet may prevent insulin and other hormone imbalances.

If you see a TikToker promoting a certain supplement to help PMS, fatigue, and other hormone-related symptoms, there could also be some truth to their claims. For example, user Kacee Santana told followers that chaste tree (also known as chasteberry) supplements eased her period discomfort, and though more research is needed, some studies cited by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health have supported these benefits.

Other ways to naturally balance hormones include maintaining a moderate weight, managing stress, following a consistent sleep-wake routine, and replacing processed foods with fiber-rich veggies and healthy fats. Before following any advice on social media, remember that many content creators lack medical credentials — just because they use the prefix "Dr." in their username doesn't always mean they're a medical professional! Compare any claims you find on TikTok to trusted websites (look for resources that are fact-checked by licensed medical doctors).

When to see a doctor

After TikTok influencer Gracie Norton went to a doctor and had her hormone levels checked, she says she was able to stabilize her hormones using doctor-approved supplements and lifestyle changes. Though her TikTok videos are meant to offer DIY wellness hacks, her hormone journey is also a reminder of just how important it is to go to the doctor — after all, health isn't one size fits all.

Because there are so many hormones at play in the body, it's best to talk to a doctor who can pinpoint exactly what may be unbalanced and how to treat the issue. And sometimes, a "hormone imbalance" may not be about hormones at all. "There are many symptoms of hormone imbalance such as weight gain, depression or mood swings, problems with sleep, fatigue, loss of libido and more," intimate health expert Dr. Shirin Lakhani told The Independent, "but a lot of information out there on the internet will blame hormone balances when other health issues could be responsible." Dr. Lakhani warns that following laymen on social media can be dangerous to your health and may delay a proper diagnosis. "I do not recommend following at-home 'hormone cures'. The best course of action is to see your doctor."

If you notice any new symptoms, make a visit to your doctor to get them checked out. Besides your primary care physician, an endocrinologist can also offer specialized help for hormone conditions.