Hormonal Imbalance In Women
Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
Bloating, fatigue, irritability, hair loss, palpitations, mood swings, problems with blood sugar, trouble concentrating, infertility these are just a few symptoms of hormone imbalance. These compounds affect every cell and system in the body. Hormone imbalance can debilitate you. Some hormonal shifts are normal, like monthly fluctuations of sex hormones responsible for menstruation and ovulation or the changes that occur during pregnancy. Menopause is another time for a normal hormonal shift in a womans life. Many women may experience weight gain, mood swings, night sweats, and diminished sex drive during this time. Other times these fluctuations may be due to a medication or a medical condition.
Balance Your Cortisol
Cortisol is an important hormone that may become imbalanced with stress or illness. Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands that lie on top of the kidneys. Low intensity exercise can help lower elevated cortisol levels. Stress impacts adrenal function and hormone levels. Get acquainted with hormone imbalance symptoms and signs so you can notice when things in your body and mind dont seem right.
Are You Ready To Stop Taking Birth Control Pills
Going off the pill isnt necessarily a quick-fix solution. Some women experience a rash of symptomsincluding mood swings, anxiety, and depressionin the months following cessation of hormonal birth control. Some hormonal experts have started calling this effect post-birth control syndrome.
In addition, its important to remember that if you started taking the pill because you were experiencing irregular periods, bad cramping, or other symptoms, the pill doesnt actually address those issues. It only masks the problem. When you stop taking oral contraceptives, that original issue may return with a vengeance.
If you were experiencing menstrual Irregularities, take note that taking natural progesterone can be quite effective for some womenwithout any of the side effects of synthetic progestin in hormonal contraceptives. If youre concerned about pregnancy, there are other non-synthetic, non-hormonal birth control options available that you can discuss with an integrative physician.
What Are Hormonal Imbalances
Your hormones, which your endocrine system makes, are your bodys messengers. They travel throughout your body, helping control the functions of your major processes and maintain balance within your body. They help manage energy levels, metabolism, reproduction, and more.
If your endocrine system makes too much or too little of a hormone, you develop a hormonal imbalance. Even small imbalances can create problems, such as health issues, early onset menopause, or ovarian cancer. There are many signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalances in women, as well as many different causes. Diagnosing the imbalance and finding the cause can lead to a treatment that restores proper balance and health.
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Is It Worth The Time
Taking the quiz takes about the same amount of time it took you to read this post. Sure, you learned about the different hormone types that women experience at different phases of their lives, but you cant take any kind of action with that info until you know which type you are.
The best part is getting to see how Metabolic Renewal works. Check out this review I did earlier.
Its different from any other diet out there. The focus is not on eating less and exercising more. You see, that may just put your body under extreme stress. Then your hormone will be working against you. Dr. Teta likens this to trying to run up a down escalator. You can do it for a while, but you tire quickly.
The thing that makes Metabolic Renewal work so well is that it works with your hormones. Thats your hormones, at your particular stage of life, not necessarily a young woman with balanced hormones.
Q When Should I Collect The Sample
A.The saliva sample should be collected upon waking before eating, drinking, or participating in any exercise, unless otherwise instructed. If you are still experiencing menstrual cycles, it is ideal to collect saliva between days 19 to 21 of cycle. If your normal cycle is > 28 days, collection should be done 7 days before next period is due. If you are on cyclic hormone therapy, it is best to collect sample towards the end of the hormone therapy cycle. If you have gone 3 months without a period, are postmenopausal and not taking hormone replacement therapy or you take hormones every day, you may collect the sample at anytime of the month.
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When To Test Cortisol
We cant always get a full picture of whats going on with your hormones without looking at the adrenals, which produce the stress hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is involved in your stress response, hair loss, blood sugar regulation and more. In time of stress, the body will shift into preferentially making cortisol over progesterone. Read more about the importance of cortisol here.
Cortisol blood tests are best performed in the morning, along with Adrenocorticotropic hormone , because this is when levels are highest. ACTH is produced in the pituitary gland and helps your adrenals to function. For a more comprehensive picture of adrenal function, a 4-point salivary or urinary cortisol is best. Cortisol can be tested at any time of the month.
Men And Estrogen: What You Need To Know
Estrogen is known primarily as a female hormone that helps regulate menstrual cycles, yet the hormone plays a bigger role in mens health than most people realize. Men produce small amounts of estrogen as part of their normal functioning male reproductive system, along with the male hormone testosterone. As they age, less testosterone is produced.
Yet questions are beginning to emerge as to what specific part estrogen plays in male development, especially as a man ages. Once largely ignored, estrogen levels in men are now under the microscope as researchers are trying to determine this hormones role in men and how it affects the bodys different hormone levels.
A decrease in estrogen, for example, may be a factor in fat accumulation in men as well as women. One endocrinologist at Harvard Medical School reported in a 2013 study that some of the symptoms of testosterone deficiency in males, including a decline in libido, were at least partially caused by lower estrogen production.
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How Do I Know If I Have A Hormone Imbalance
The following list of common complaints can often be helped or eliminated by improving hormone health. The challenge is often finding out the starting place of your hormone imbalance to ensure you are treating the root of the problem rather than just the symptoms. And thats where hormone testing comes in.
- Menstrual irregularities
- Poor immune function
When assessing a hormone imbalance, its important to evaluate the endocrine system as a whole. This is because the endocrine system is complex and hormones and their actions are intricately linked this means that hormone imbalances originating from different areas can cause the same symptom.
How To Test Cortisol Levels
Cortisol levels are measured with lab tests. These may be blood tests, which measure levels of the hormone in the bloodstream, or saliva tests, which measure cortisol levels in a saliva sample. Cortisol testing is typically done early in the morning, when levels are normally highest. Often, to produce the most accurate results, testing is repeated in the afternoon of the same day. Cortisol testing is often done in conjunction with ACTH level tests, since this pituitary gland hormone works to regulate cortisone levels. ACTH tests measure levels of the hormone in the bloodstream.
Getting tested can be done through your health care provider, who can order your tests for you, take your blood or saliva samples or send you to a lab to have them done. Then, your provider will let you know your results once they are delivered to his or her office.
You can also order these lab tests yourself online or over the phone from independent testing services, like Health Testing Centers. Ordering your own tests is generally less expensive, since you skip the cost of an office visit, and more efficient, since the results are delivered directly to you.
However, it is important to note that if your tests show that your cortisol and/or ACTH levels are abnormal too high or too low following up on those results with a visit to your healthcare provider is essential. Abnormal levels of these important hormones require further examination and testing.
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Hormonal Imbalance And Weight Gain
Hormones play an integral role in metabolism and your bodys ability to use energy. Hormone conditions, such as Cushing syndrome, can cause you to become overweight or develop obesity.
People with Cushing syndrome have high levels of cortisol in their blood. This leads to an increase in appetite and fat storage.
Hypothyroidism, if the condition is severe, can also lead to weight gain.
Slight hormone imbalances can happen during menopause. During this transition, many people gain weight because their metabolisms slow down. You may find that even though youre eating and exercising like you usually do, you still gain weight.
The only way to treat weight gain from a hormone disorder is to treat the underlying condition.
During a typical pregnancy, your body goes through major hormonal changes. This is different from a hormonal imbalance.
Can You Test Your Fertility Hormones If Youre On Birth Control What About Other Meds
If youre on birth control, you can still get some really powerful insights about your body by testing fertility hormones. The hormones included in your test depend on the type of birth control youre on and the regularity of your period. On all types of hormonal birth control, however, you can test for AMH and TSH . To see which hormones would be included in your test, take our quiz here.
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Follow A High Fiber Diet
Fiber is essential to a healthy diet.
Studies have found that it increases insulin sensitivity and stimulates the production of hormones that make you feel full (
Researchers believe that this diet increases your intake of protective plant compounds such as polyphenols and lignans .
Replacing a diet high in red meat and processed and refined foods with a Mediterranean-style diet rich in whole grains, legumes, and fish may help you manage your estrogen levels.
When To Talk With A Doctor
Some conditions or complications can develop as a result of a hormone imbalance. If youre suddenly losing or gaining weight without trying, have joint pains, severe fatigue, or abdominal pain that doesnt go away, schedule an appointment to talk with your doctor.
You may also want to see a doctor if youre trying to get pregnant and are unable to for some time, or if youre experiencing other reproductive issues.
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Why Cortisol Testing Is Important
Cortisol testing is important because that system does not always function in the normal, healthy manner outlined above. Sometimes cortisone levels can stay too high for too long, which can have far-reaching effects on your health, such as:
- Problems with memory and/or concentration
Issues That Can Cause Abnormally High Cortisol Levels include:
1- Chronic stress: The bodys natural fight-or-flight stress response system is set up to manage short-term stress situations. Stress in todays world is often a longer-term health issue. Rather than being stressed by a sudden encounter with a predator, a situation that can be resolved quickly by running away, we are more likely to face ongoing problems that cause stress, like job pressures, for instance, or financial ones. This can cause long-term activation of the stress response system, leading to chronically high levels of cortisol.
2- Problems with the pituitary gland: Tumors on the pituitary gland or excess growth of the gland can cause it to release too much ACTH, increasing cortisol levels.
3- Problems with adrenal glands: Tumors on the adrenal glands can cause overproduction of cortisol.
4- Other tumors: Growths in other areas of the body can increase cortisol production.
5- Medications: Overuse of corticosteroid medications or long-term use of them can lead to abnormally high cortisol levels.
Signs Of Low Estrogen Levels
Its clear that estrogen is closely linked with womens emotional well-being. Estrogen is also linked to mood disruptions that occur only in women. WebMD
Estrogen is one of two vitally important hormones in women . It turns out that this hormone is not only responsible for a normal functioning of a womans body, but also for proper mental functioning.
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Lab Test To Consider For A Missing Period
- Follicle-stimulating hormone
- Luteinizing hormone
- Fasting insulin
- Glycated hemoglobin , fasting glucose or glucose challenge
Will you need all of these? Maybe. Maybe not. This is where an experienced clinician can help.
I know that many women experience resistance to their request to have comprehensive hormone testing. I would urge you to seek out a functional medicine practitioner, a naturopathic physician, a reproductive endocrinologist, or a gynecologist. I know it can be super frustrating to try to find a provider that will help you but there are many amazing practitioners out there who can and will help you get the labs you need.
Also dont let a doctor convince you that a missing period doesnt matter because youre not interested in baby-making at the moment. Amenorrhea is a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be addressed, whether youre trying to conceive or not. The quality of care you receive should not be dependent on your whether or not you want to have a baby at this moment.
If your period is missing, Id encourage you to check out my full article on amenorrhea here.
How Is Low Testosterone Diagnosed What Treatments Are Available
Most healthcare providers will measure their testosterone levels by having a blood test, doing a physical exam and having the patient describe his symptoms. Finally, they may order additional tests to rule out other possible diagnoses.
Testosterone is sometimes prescribed for men with low testosterone. Almost all hormone supplements and testosterone treatments are available in different forms, including lozenges, patches, gels and creams.
Because of the limited knowledge regarding this condition, challenges in having a proper diagnosis, as well as the possible side effects of treatments, HRT should not administer for men without proper testing, retesting and consultation with a healthcare provider to discuss the pros and cons. One may want to consider an endocrinologist who specializes in hormones.
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What Are The Treatment Options
Hormone replacement therapy is one of the most common treatments of low hormone levels.
For people experiencing menopause, premature menopause, or primary ovarian insufficiency as well as after oophorectomy or chemotherapy estrogen therapy can offer some relief. Estrogen therapy alone is recommended for those who have had a hysterectomy. You can take estrogen in different forms, generally estrogen pills and estrogen patches.
Which Hormone Tests Should I Ask For
Which tests you undergo will depend on your symptoms and preferences.
On the other hand, you might simply be interested in a general hormone health check even if you dont have any specific concerns or symptoms of a hormonal imbalance. This can be useful to establish a baseline that helps you identify hormonal changes in the future or detect asymptomatic health conditions.
Regardless of whether you have specific concerns or just want an overview of your current hormonal health, your healthcare practitioner can help you determine which tests are most appropriate for your situation.
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What Do The Results Mean
Your test results will mean different things depending on:
- The reasons for having the test
- The type of estrogen that was measured
- The results of other tests you may have had
Talk with your provider to find out what your results mean for your health. Because estrogen levels often change, you may need to be tested more than once to look for a trend in your estrogen levels over time.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
Stimulation And Suppression Hormone Testing
We use tests called stimulation and suppression tests to evaluate a hormone imbalance. We give you hormones and other substances that either start or stop your production of certain hormones. We then evaluate how your body responds.
Common types of stimulation and suppression testing include:
- Growth hormone response to glucagon: We inject a hormone, glucagon, into muscle tissue and measure growth hormone levels over four hours. This test helps us confirm or rule out adult growth hormone deficiency.
- Cortisol response to cosyntropin: We give you cosyntropin, which acts like ACTH . ACTH is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. We measure cortisol levels every 30 minutes for one hour. This test helps us confirm adrenal insufficiency.
- Glucose tolerance test: We give you a sweet drink, which should lower levels of growth hormone. We measure levels of growth hormone in the blood every two hours. This test helps us confirm acromegaly.
- Cortisol response to dexamethasone: You take a pill at night that should block cortisol production. The next day we take a blood sample to measure cortisol levels. This test helps us confirm or rule out Cushing’s syndrome.
- Metyrapone suppression test: You take a pill at night that should block cortisol production. The next day we take a blood sample to measure cortisol and ACTH levels. This test helps us confirm or rule out adrenal insufficiency.
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More Information About Hormone Testing
Hormone levels change as you agesome change throughout the day. We use hormone testing to detect and evaluate hormone imbalances that may be making you sick. We often conduct hormone testing using a blood sample, but some tests require urine or saliva samples.
We frequently test levels of:
- Estrogen and testosterone
- Adrenal gland hormones, such as cortisol
- Growth hormone, prolactin and other pituitary gland hormones
- Thyroid hormones, such as thyroxine