Our hormones are constantly changing in response to our external and internal environment. The reproductive hormones follow a general pattern called the menstrual cycle for most people while they're of a certain age range. Having balanced hormones is a colloquialism for meaning having hormones that don't cause us any trouble. It has very little to do with the actual levels of our hormones we might expect to see on any test results.
Its common in orthodox medicine for period problems such as irregularity or missed periods to be 'treated' with the contraceptive pill. Offered up to you as a way to balance your hormones.
But the 'hormones' in the contraceptive pill actually aren't the same as your own. They are chemically similar but not the same. Crucially, they are given in the exact same dose each day in comparison with the body who will change the levels of hormones moment to moment depending on what you require.
The body is constantly adapting to your needs. What we don't realise is that our diets and lifestyle can be putting a strain on the body that you don't recognise as such because (often) everyone else in society is operating under the same circumstances.
Even when I treat hormonal imbalances in patients I avoid the herbs which are known to have a directive hormonal effect such as maca and Vitex agnus castus. Instead I prioritise herbs which support the other body systems and wait to see if the hormones readjust to that instead.
The herbs I focus on are adaptogens, to balance the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis and its response to stress. Relaxants to reduce our cortisol levels which in turn helps increase our reproductive hormones like progesterone. Tonics which feed the digestion, nervous system, circulation and elimination. If we are unable to absorb nutrients from foods then we can't absord the building blocks of our hormones (cholesterol playing a crucial role). If we have poor circulation these nutrients can't get where they need to go. And if we are unable to excrete hormones and other waste from our liver effectively then it remains active in the body for longer.
I find that in mild or short term hormonal imbalance this is all that's needed. But when I work with people who have diagnosed illnesses like PCOS and endometriosis, they often need a jump start to hormonal balance where I will work with those hormonally directive herbs for a little while and remove them when the diet and lifestyle (stress) has been rebalanced.
I believe that it's only in rare situations that herbs need to be taken daily. Lifestyle and diet are the real cures, the herbs are just a catalystic means to an end.