Q. How do Hormones Tip Out of Balance?
I am a forty year old woman. Recently I’ve noticed some unpleasant physical and emotional changes. I told my doctor that I had been really anxious lately, tired, quick to fly off the handle, and not sleeping well. After a physical exam and a few questions he told me that I was probably starting to go through menopause—that the symptoms I was experiencing were perfectly normal all a part of getting older, of course that is not what I wanted to hear! I don’t care if it’s normal I want to feel like my old self again. Is there a safe and effective solution?
Let’s start with the basics. Hormones are essential to life. They are chemical connectors to the brain, muscles, sex organs, and virtually every part of the body. If you were suddenly without the intricate communication conducted via hormones, you would quickly die. As it is, a missed message from one hormone to another can cause an imbalance, upsetting the whole shebang. As early as a woman’s mid-thirties, a drop in estrogen or progesterone, or a break in the ovulation cycle, can cause the domino effect of mood instability, weight gain, skin problems, and many other changes. Despite the fact that just about every woman knows she will eventually experience menopause, these changes can come as unpleasant surprises. In addition diet, stress, sleep patterns, environmental toxins, and genetics can create a hormone chaos that will leave you feeling terrible for years to come.
Hormonal Highs and Lows…
Something happens, whether it’s stress, diet, or medications—or a genetic predisposition—and your hormones either revert to a normal state or they don’t. The key is to take care of yourself so you’re not as susceptible to inevitable hormone fluctuations. Even though much of what happens in life is beyond your power, you can control what you eat, how much you exercise, how many hours you sleep, and whether you use vitamin and herbal supplements. In menopause, (or early menopause) some women adjust to the chronically low levels and some (most) do not. Let’s take a look at the female sex hormones and what they do.
There are hundreds of Estrogen receptors throughout the body. This amazing hormone maintains blood-sugar levels and protects against osteoporosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, colon cancer, Parkinson’s disease, incontinence, and tooth loss. Estrogen receptors are also plentiful in the brain, where they help the brain cells make connections, allowing our mind to stay sharp, our memory to be sound, and our emotions to remain stable.
One of its most important jobs of Progesterone is to prevent excess estrogen. Progesterone and estrogen give the best effect when they are balanced, which in turn creates fewer bleeding problems and more equilibrium going into menopause. Progesterone, or the lack thereof, begins to wreak havoc for women when the levels in the second half of the cycle are not prominent. Progesterone is the mood hormone; a low progesterone level paves the way for PMS symptoms and emotional imbalance. In menopause, women are chronically progesterone deficient, predisposing them to mood instability and depression.
Testosterone is known as the forgotten hormone, especially in menopause, as many medical providers do not pay attention to the signs of its decline. Menopausal and perimenopausal women who have fatigue, muscle atrophy, weakness, low libido, and low sexual sensation often have low testosterone
Present in both men and women, testosterone is produced in small amounts by the ovaries and the adrenal glands. Although men naturally make 50 percent more testosterone than women, it is a vital hormone that women rely on for energy, vitality, sex drive, and endurance.
Each Woman Is Unique… Individuality is the name of the game with women’s hormone testing and treatment. Even though women may have similar complaints, each has her own hormone profile. Women often come to my office with their lives broken into fragments. We work as partners to fit the pieces back together so that the woman eventually sees her physical and emotional sides merge as a harmonious whole.