Hormonal Imbalance And Women
Female hormones are powerful chemical messengers that regulate the reproductive system and influence many other vital systems. When they are present in the body in the proper amounts and ratios, they work in concert with one another to promote optimal health and well-being. However, when female hormonal imbalance becomes an issue, the consequences can manifest themselves throughout the body, taking a toll on a womans health and quality-of-life. When the condition is accurately identified and treated, the balance of female hormones can be corrected, reducing the symptoms and health risks associated with hormonal imbalance.
Female Hormone Imbalance: What Is It
Hormonal imbalance occurs when the amount of estrogen, progesterone or both is altered, disturbing the delicate balance between these powerful hormones. Imbalances in these vital female hormones can stem from a number of underlying causes. The most common cause is perimenopause, the transitional phase leading up to menopause, during which the production of estrogens and progesterone begin to decline. Other common causes of hormonal imbalance include pregnancy, endocrine disorders, certain drugs, especially oral contraceptives, drugs used in hormone replacement therapy and cancer medications, and lifestyle factors that include stress, overweight or obesity, poor diet, sleep deprivation and lack of exercise.
Should You Look Into Further Testing If Your Doctor Says Thyroid Levels Are Normal Yet Symptoms Are Present
YES! You should. YOU are the expert on youre own body, and if something doesnt feel right, you have the right to investigate it.
Serum testing of thyroid levels by your doctor usually starts with TSH and maybe T4.
The problem with this is that just measuring TSH clues us in on pituitary function rather than thyroid function. It does not evaluate how much active thyroid youre making.
Another caveat to conventional thyroid testing is that the ranges for normal are very large therefore, many women can be experiencing subclinical symptoms of hypo/hyperthyroidism without being notified by their doctor.
If possible, request a full thyroid panel as described earlier in this post and seek a functionally trained health professional to interpret whether your levels are optimal.
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Your Comprehensive Female Hormone Test List
Most female sex hormones are steroid hormones, meaning that theyre made of lipids . Theyre produced and secreted by many different glands in the body, including the pituitary gland, adrenal glands, thyroid gland, and ovaries .
Some of the most commonly measured female hormones and hormonal markers include :
- Estrone, estradiol, and estriol : A female sex hormone that regulates sex characteristics and maintains reproductive, bone, and cardiovascular health in women.
- Progesterone: A female sex hormones that regulates the menstrual cycle and thickens the uterine lining to prepare for follicle implantation in women.
- Total testosterone and free testosterone: An androgen that plays an important role in female reproductive health and libido.
- Luteinizing hormone : A pituitary hormone that regulates the production of other sex hormones, like progesterone and estrogen, and induces ovulation in women.
- Follicle-stimulating hormone : A pituitary hormone that causes estrogen levels to rise in women and leads to the development of follicles in the ovaries.
- Dehydroepiandrosterone and DHEA-sulfate: An androgen produced by the adrenal glands thats a precursor to other sex hormones and helps produce testosterone in women.
- Sex hormone-binding globulin : A protein that helps bind up excess sex hormones, like testosterone and estrogen.
- Prolactin: A hormone produced in the pituitary that promotes breast milk production, but can suppress fertility when elevated.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone
How Can I Find Out If I Have A Hormone Imbalance
The only way to confirm a hormone imbalance is to test your hormone levels. Both blood tests and saliva tests are proven techniques in assessing a hormone imbalance. i-screen uses blood tests to accurately determine sex hormone and thyroid hormone levels, but prefers saliva testing to assess cortisol levels. This is because cortisol levels follow a diurnal pattern which means tests must be conducted throughout the course of the day this makes blood testing inconvenient.
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Whats The Outlook For A Hormonal Imbalance
If you have a hormone imbalance, there are various treatments to help bring your hormones back to appropriate levels and restore balance.
Depending on the underlying cause of the imbalance, as well as the specific hormones in question, treatments can vary, but there are ways to manage symptoms and bring hormone levels back to normal.
If theres an underlying condition causing the hormone imbalance, long-term management of the condition will help ensure hormonal balance.
Hormone levels change and fluctuate over time they dont remain static. Its important to be aware of your bodys symptoms.
Talk with your health care provider about any changes you might notice, especially after giving birth or while going through perimenopause.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hormonal Imbalance
Because your body makes over 50 different hormones all of which contribute to important bodily functions you could experience several different symptoms depending on which hormonal imbalance you have.
Its important to know that many of the following symptoms could be caused by other conditions, not just from a hormonal imbalance. If you ever notice a change in your day-to-day health and are experiencing new, persistent symptoms, its important to talk to your healthcare provider no matter what you think the cause might be.
Hormone imbalance symptoms that affect your metabolism
Common hormonal imbalances include those that affect your metabolism. Your metabolism consists of the chemical reactions in your body’s cells that change the food you eat into energy. Many different hormones and processes are involved in metabolism.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalances that affect your metabolism include:
- Slow heartbeat or rapid heartbeat .
- Thin, warm and moist skin.
- Irregular body fat distribution.
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Can Hormone Imbalance Cause Anxiety
Yes, certain hormonal imbalances can cause anxiety, including:
- Hyperthyroidism: If you have hyperthyroidism, it means your body has too much thyroid hormone. Excess thyroid hormone speeds up your metabolism. This can cause anxiety, in addition to unusual nervousness, restlessness and irritability.
- Cushings syndrome: While its not as common of a symptom, Cushings syndrome can cause anxiety, as well as depression and irritability.
- Adult-onset growth hormone deficiency: Adults with growth hormone deficiency often report having anxiety and/or depression.
Several other conditions and factors can cause anxiety. Its important to talk to your healthcare provider if youre experiencing anxiety.
What Is The Best Way To Test Female Hormones
The best way to test female hormones depends on the reasons for testing hormone levels and the individuals circumstances. A person can use tests to indicate the presence of potential health conditions and monitor existing conditions.
However, a person should not use at-home hormone tests to replace the advice of a doctor.
Female hormone tests can help assess symptoms that may be due to hormonal imbalances, such as:
- irregular periods
- skin problems, such as acne
- hot flashes and night sweats
- vaginal dryness
Getting an in-person test conducted by a medical professional is more likely to yield a quality sample and provide a better test. However, people with busy schedules, limited access to healthcare, or who need frequent testing may find that at-home testing better meets their needs.
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Why Test For Hormone Imbalance
There are different reasons why women should consider testing themselves for hormone imbalances. Even so, the main reason for it is because it allows women to target their hormonal imbalance treatment. For example, there are hormone creams available that are specifically made for certain women, tackling their exact hormone imbalance issues with the correct measures of missing hormones.
Thus, women do not have to endure their hormonal imbalance symptoms without any relief. After considering how to test for hormone imbalance there are different treatments available. Click on the link below for more information about hormonal imbalance.
Best Comprehensive Hormone Test For Males: Letsgetchecked Male Hormone Advanced
- Price: around $119 for a one-time test, around $125143 for regular deliveries
- Sample type: Finger prick blood sample
- Hormones tested: Testosterone, estradiol, prolactin, sex-hormone binding globulin, free androgen index
- Sends results in: 25 days
This male hormone test checks levels of:
- sex hormone-binding globulin
Otherwise, the process is the same as the LetsGetChecked female hormone test. A person collects a finger-prick blood sample and sends it to the lab.
The results are available online within two to five days after the laboratory receives the specimens.
This LetsGetChecked Male Hormone Advanced Test costs $119 for a one-off testing kit. The following subscription options are available at a reduced cost:
- quarterly: $125.30
- semi-annually: $143.20
- annually: $152.15
A basic version of this test is also available at a lower cost, though it tests for fewer hormones.
The company states that it provides test results within two to five days.
The test kit requires overnight fasting for at least eight hours and is not suitable for people under 18, which could be difficult for some people. Additionally, people should wait at least eight hours after their last dose of B7 before collecting their specimens.
This test kit is somewhat more expensive than others the company manufactures, although it also analyzes more hormone levels. Subscription options allow people to reduce costs and track their hormone levels over time.
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What Is The Hormone Diet
The Hormone Diet is a book and diet program by Dr. Natasha Turner, a naturopathic doctor. Its primary focus is on hormone fluctuations that may negatively affect a persons weight. It also focuses on other factors that can contribute to weight gain and other chronic diseases.
The Hormone Diet is a 6-week, three-step process designed to promote hormonal balance and an overall healthier body through diet, exercise, nutritional supplements, and detoxification. The diet regulates what you eat and also tells you the right time to eat to ensure maximum benefit to your hormones.
The book boasts of being the first diet book to emphasize the importance of hormonal balance among all the hormones that influence weight. It also claims to be the first to explain the lifestyle habits that can help boost hormones to burn fat. These include:
- managing stress
The diet aims for weight loss of up to 12 pounds, including water weight, in the first phase. It aims for about 2 pounds a week after that without calorie counting.
According to the author, following the entire protocol may help you optimize the levels of inflammation in your body as well as these hormones:
The full list is in the book The Hormone Diet.
The second phase also involves ridding your diet of human-made foods, which include:
- processed foods
- foods that contain nitrates, such as cured meats
Common Symptoms Of Hormone Imbalances
Heres the thing: Hormonal imbalances can have a lot of symptoms and they can have a lot of different symptoms, depending on which ones are at the root of your issues. Those symptoms may seem muddled or initially unrelated, and theyre not always related to hormones at all.
Hormones can cause so many symptoms, but that doesnt mean theyre always the cause of your symptoms, Dr. Batur says, so its really important to be seen by a doctor for an individualized assessment. Here are some common symptoms of hormonal imbalances in women and what they might signify.
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Natural Remedies And Supplements
Many nutritional supplements on the market claim to treat menopause and hormonal imbalance. However, few of them are backed up by scientific evidence.
Many of these supplements contain plant-derived hormones. These are sometimes called bioidentical hormones, because they chemically resemble the bodys natural hormones. Theres no evidence to suggest that they work better than regular hormone therapy, however.
Some people find that yoga helps ease symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Yoga is excellent for your strength, flexibility, and balance. It may also aid in weight loss, which can help regulate your hormones.
You can also make the following lifestyle changes:
- Lose weight. If your doctor has recommended it, a reduction in body weight may help regulate menstrual cycles and increase the chances of getting pregnant. Weight loss may also help improve erectile function.
- Eat well. A balanced diet is an important part of overall health.
- Use lubes or moisturizers free of parabens, glycerin, and petroleum.
- Avoid hot flash triggers when possible. Try to identify things that commonly trigger your hot flashes, such as warm temperatures, spicy foods, or hot beverages.
- Remove unwanted hair. If you have excess facial or body hair, you can use hair removal cream, laser hair removal, or electrolysis.
The primary cause of acne is excess oil production, which leads to clogged pores. Acne is most common in areas with many oil glands, including the:
When Is The Best Time To Test Hormone Levels
If youre struggling with a hormone imbalance, testing your sex hormones can help you understand where the issue is rooted. Evaluating estrogen, progesterone and testosterone can be helpful in understanding which hormones are driving your symptoms.
Hormone levels arent static throughout the monthand this is why so many women get within range blood test results.
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Hormone Imbalance Test Pricing
A female hormone imbalance test may be done using saliva, urine or blood, testing for hormone levels, or hormone metabolites. During your consultation, your practitioner will discuss the most appropriate testing for you. By using various test profiles to assess hormone levels, an extensive picture of the female hormone cycle can be obtained allowing us to design an individualised, comprehensive and effective treatment plan.
The team at Perpetual Wellbeing are female hormone specialists. Book an online consultation or a face to face appointment at our Brisbane or Graceville clinics. Our test pricing guide is available here.
Who May Need A Female Hormone Panel
Middle-aged women, and those experiencing difficulties with becoming pregnant, will most benefit from having their hormone levels checked in order to either begin hormone replacement therapy, or make lifestyle changes which could improve certain aspects of their hormone levels. Also, patients who have experienced symptoms related to menopause, as well as those looking to discover the source of a chronic condition possibly linked to abnormal hormone levels or general health, will also be provided enough information to work with their physician in determining a method of treatment.
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Possible Causes Of Abnormally Low Cortisol Levels
Also called primary adrenal insufficiency, this is a condition that occurs when the adrenal glands are damaged and become unable to produce enough cortisol and/or other stress hormones. This is most often caused by auto-immune activity, where the immune system attacks the bodys own tissues. Other potential causes include long-term use of steroid medications, certain blood thinners, tumors and infections.
Problems with the pituitary gland
Low cortisol levels can be caused by the pituitary gland failing to release enough ACTH. This latter is important to trigger adequate amounts of cortisol to be released from the adrenal glands. This is typically referred to as secondary adrenal insufficiency, or hypopituitarism and, can be caused by trauma to the pituitary gland, brain tumors, pituitary gland tumors, stroke, autoimmune diseases and tuberculosis, among many other possible causes.
Consider How Caffeine Is Affecting You
When I talk to most women about caffeine, I usually hear something like, Ill do anything you want me to, but dont make me give up coffee.
I get it. Life is nuts, and most of us need to mainline caffeine just to get by. As I said above, though, this could be really problematic, especially if you experience anxiety on the regular, feel like you cant get out of bed in the morning, have energy crashes in the day, or have trouble falling asleep at night.
If youre not ready to ditch the joe, then just observe how you feel 30, 60, and 120 minutes after youve had coffee. If youre wanting to call it quits, ease into it with half decaf and half regular, replace a cup a day with decaf, or experiment with matcha.
Life is full-on for so many of us these days, which is why I hope that you have a clearer picture of what a hormone imbalance actually looks like and how to start to reverse it. Hormones exist in a hierarchy, so its important to take a top down approach to addressing problems that arise from a hormone imbalance.
Hormones are also talking to each other all day long, so once you work on one hormone, the rest will start to fall in line. Thats the beauty of hormones. Theyre working together to support you, always.
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Signs And Symptoms Of A Hormonal Imbalance
Your hormones play an integral role in your overall health. As a result, theres a broad range of signs and symptoms that could signal a hormonal imbalance. Your signs or symptoms will depend on which hormones or glands are not working properly.
Common hormonal conditions affecting people of all genders could cause any of the following signs or symptoms:
- purple or pink stretch marks
Keep in mind that these symptoms are nonspecific. Having one or a few of them doesnt necessarily mean that you have a hormonal imbalance.
Some of these symptoms may also reflect other chronic conditions. So, if you find yourself dealing with any notable changes in your body or energy levels, its a good idea to talk with your doctor.
Can Hormone Imbalance Cause Weight Gain
Yes, certain hormone imbalances can cause weight gain, including:
- Hypothyroidism: This condition happens when you have low levels of thyroid hormone, which causes your metabolism to slow down. This can cause weight gain.
- Cushings syndrome: This is a rare condition that happens when your body has too much of a hormone called cortisol. It results in rapid weight gain in your face , belly, back of your neck and chest.
- Menopause: During menopause, many people assigned female at birth gain weight due to hormonal changes that cause their metabolism to slow down. Its important to remember that this type of hormonal imbalance is natural and an expected part of life.
Several other factors contribute to weight gain. If youre experiencing unexpected weight gain or are concerned about your weight, talk to your healthcare provider.
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