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Hormones in Balance
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Could your symptoms be linked to your hormones? Hormonal imbalances are not uncommon with prolonged stress, inadequate sleep, nutrient deficiencies or poor diet, as well as changes due to normal aging.
If you can relate with any of the symptoms listed below contact your physician for hormone testing and discuss ways you can balance your hormones to improve your overall health. Remember these imbalances are not just uncomfortable, they can lead to more severe chronic conditions later in life such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and even cancer. Below is a list of the major players in female reproductive hormones.
ESTROGEN– Estrogen plays an important role in stimulating the growth of reproductive tissues, maintaining healthy bones, increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, and helping to keep the cardiovascular system healthy.
LOW ESTROGEN in premenopausal women is unusual unless they experience an anovulatory cycle (no ovulation) or are using oral contraceptives, which can suppress endogenously (made in the body) production of estrogens by the ovaries. Low estrogen is much more common in postmenopausal women or in women of any age who have had their ovaries surgically removed and/or those who have not been treated with hormone replacement (HRT). Symptoms and conditions commonly associated with estrogen deficiency include:
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- sleep disturbances
- foggy thinking
- vaginal dryness & atrophy
- incontinence & urethritis
- thinning skin
- bone loss
- heart palpitations
HIGH ESTROGEN in premenopausal women is usually caused by excessive production of androgens (testosterone and DHEA) by the ovaries and adrenal glands, which are converted to estrogens by an enzyme found in adipose (fat) tissue, or, by estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). When estrogen levels are high in postmenopausal women, this is usually due to estrogen supplementation or slow clearance from the body i.e. decreased liver function. Excess estrogen levels, especially in combination with low progesterone, may lead to the symptoms of “estrogen dominance,” including:
- mood swings
- anxiety & panic attacks
- water retention
- fibrocystic breasts & uterine fibroids
- weight gain
- bleeding changes (due to overgrowth of the uterine lining and uterine fibroids)
- migraine headaches
- thyroid deficiency
Estrogen, even at normal, premenopausal levels, can cause estrogen dominance symptoms if not balanced by adequate progesterone. There are many natural options for balancing estrogen from dietary choices to the use of bioidentical progesterone.
PROGESTERONE is manufactured in the ovaries at about 10-30 mg of progesterone each day during the latter half of the menstrual cycle. Younger women with regular cycles generally make adequate progesterone, consistent with their having fewer symptoms of estrogen excess. Progesterone is important in normal menstrual cycles, breast development, maintaining pregnancy, relaxing blood vessels and influencing neurotransmitters in the brain.
LOW PROGESTERONE in premenopausal women is more commonly seen with anovulatory cycles, (no ovulation), luteal insufficiency (ovulation with low progesterone production), or use of contraceptives containing synthetic progestins. A lower level of progesterone is more common in postmenopausal women who no longer ovulate, who have had their ovaries removed, or use synthetic progestins in contraceptives or HRT (Provera). Symptoms of low progesterone include:
- poor sleep with early AM waking
HIGH PROGESTERONE in normal premenopausal and postmenopausal women can occur with supplementation, exposure (e.g. anti-aging creams, transference from someone using progesterone), and/or sluggish metabolism. Transdermal (through the skin) progesterone is very well absorbed at physiological levels (10-30 mg/day). Progesterone results higher than the reference range can occur with topical doses greater than 30 mg. Symptoms of high progesterone are relatively benign and include
- excessive sleepiness
- functional estrogen deficiency
TESTOSTERONE is an anabolic hormone produced predominantly by the ovaries in women and the testes in men, and to a lesser extent in the adrenal glands. It is essential for creating energy, maintaining optimal brain function (memory), regulating the immune system, and building and maintaining the integrity of structural tissues such as skin, muscles, and bone. Premenopausal testosterone levels usually fall within the high-normal range and postmenopausal levels at a low-normal range. In men, testosterone levels peak in the teens and then fall throughout adulthood.
LOW TESTOSTERONE is most commonly caused by aging, removal of the ovaries or testes, suppression of ovarian and testicular production by stress hormones (cortisol), use of contraceptives and synthetic HRT, and/or damage to the ovaries, testes and adrenal glands by trauma, medications, or radiation therapies. Chronically low testosterone can cause:
- loss of bone and/or muscle mass,
- erectile dysfunction in men
- thinning skin,
- vaginal dryness,
- low libido
- aches and pains
- memory lapses
HIGH TESTOSTERONE is usually the result of excessive production by the ovaries, testes and adrenal glands or supplementation with androgens (testosterone, DHEA). Slightly elevated testosterone (range 50-60 pg/ml) is often seen in postmenopausal women as they transition into menopause. High testosterone in premenopausal women is associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which in turn is caused by insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome. Symptoms include:
- loss of scalp hair
- increased body and facial hair
- oily skin
Contact Dr. Schulz or 971.270.0402 if you have questions regarding hormone balancing, would like to have your hormones tested, discuss bioidentical hormone options and see if you are a candidate for hormone therapy.