What Is A Hormonal Imbalance
Your body is comprised of various glands and tissues, all of which are part of your endocrine system. These glands deliver hormones throughout your body via your bloodstream. These are the chemicals that tell your organs what to do and when to do it.
Hormones are responsible for regulating some of your most critical bodily processes, including your:
- Sexual capacity
- Internal temperature
A hormonal imbalance means that your body is producing too much or too little of a given hormone, such as insulin, estrogen, progesterone, or any other hormone. If your levels are off by even a little, it can create a significant change that you may feel to a severe degree.
Ask For A Referral Or Find Another Md
If youre not confident in your physicians ability to help you address your concerns, its always OK to ask for a referral to an endocrinologist or someone who has more experience treating hormonal imbalance. You may also need to simply shop around for a doctor with whom you feel comfortable and supported.
Women’s Hormones: The Main Culprits For Changes In Your Health
Whether its lower energy, weight gain, irritability, decreased sex drive or other symptoms, as many women approach 40 years of age or older, they report feeling different. While many women are quick to blame their hormones for the differences they begin experiencing, its important to know that hormones are not always the catalyst for these changes. In our experience, the majority of women who report these problems are actually suffering from stress and lifestyle-related choices, rather than hormonal shifts.
At Moreland OB-GYN, our team of obstetricians/gynecologists has the expertise to help you identify the true causes for why you may feel different, guide you through perimenopause and the stages of menopause, and make sure you are putting your best foot forward in terms of your overall health. But first, lets take a look at the primary hormones at work in a womans body.
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Signs You Have A Hormone Imbalance
Achieving balance in life is probably not a new concept to you. Just like balancing your diet and your schedule, your hormones also need to find a balance in order for you to feel your best. Women who are approaching perimenopause or menopause are commonly faced with hormone imbalance. Fortunately, your gynecologist can help, but it may be up to you to recognize the symptoms of hormone imbalance so that you can make the appointment.
Remember that there are many types of hormones in the body, ranging from estrogen, testosterone and progesterone that come from the ovaries as well as thyroid hormones, cortisol, prolactin and more.
Here are some common signs and symptoms of hormone imbalance in women:
- Irregular or absent periods
- Thinning hair or facial hair
- Heart palpitations
At North Pointe OB/GYN Associates, we dont want your health or quality of life to diminish due to out of whack hormones. We can conduct the necessary evaluations and testing to determine which hormones need adjustment. In many cases, we can prescribe hormone replacement therapy , to restore optimal balance. However, some women benefit from a change in lifestyle, including better eating habits, increased activity level and more sleep. If you can identify with the above symptoms, please call us today to schedule your consult. We treat women through all stages of life.
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Check Your Hormone Levels From The Convenience Of Home
If youâre concerned about your hormone levels, you can use the information here on how to know if you have a hormonal imbalanceâplus speaking with a healthcare providerâto help inform your next steps.If youâre interested in hormone testing at home, consider the following tests :
- Womenâs Hormone Test – Lets you learn your levels for 10 key hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and thyroid hormones.
- Thyroid Test – Check the 3 main thyroid hormones , plus thyroid antibodies.
- Womenâs Fertility Test – Test your levels for 5 hormones that help support ovarian function and pregnancy.
- Men’s Health Test – Check your cortisol, DHEA-S, estradiol, and testosterone.
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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
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My Hormone Levels Are Normal Now What
As you can see, hormonal imbalances are often the culprits for many of the symptoms that women at or over 40 claim make them feel different, but if your doctor has conducted blood tests and you do not have a hormone imbalance, we recommend taking a look at the following factors in your overall health:
We understand how tempting and easy it can be for women to blame their hormones for not feeling like they did when they were in their 20s and early 30s. And, we also know that evaluating your overall health and making changes to your routine to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly, takes a great deal of time and effort. Thats why were here to help.
At Moreland OB-GYN, we specialize in womens health care and prioritizing the needs of our patients at all ages and stages in their life. We hope youll connect with us to answer your questions and we hope youll turn to our experts as a trusted source for information.
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Estrogen Testing In Men
Men also have estrogen, although their levels are usually lower than they are in women. Estrogen levels that are too low or too high in men can lead to health problems.
A man might have an estrogen test to:
- Check if puberty is delayed
- Diagnose enlarged male breasts, a condition with doctors call gynecomastia
- Find if high estrogen levels are due to low levels of testosterone or androgen –two key hormones in men
- Find tumors that make estrogen
How To Balance Hormones Causing Irregular Periods
While there are lifestyle changes you can make that can help regulate your hormones, its best to see a doctor if youre having symptoms of hormone imbalance or if your periods are irregular.
They will be able to monitor hormone levels and make sure theyre where they need to be. They can also determine whether or not treatments are working.
Depending on the underlying cause of the hormone imbalance or which hormones are irregular, other treatments might also be used.
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.
How To Get Your Hormones Tested And What To Do Next
Last updated on by Alisa Vitti
So, youve been feeling less than great lately maybe the first sign was irregular or heavy and painful periods, or maybe it was some weight gain and acne either way, you know something is wrong and you want to feel better. Youre thinking it might be hormone-related. What now?
Many women take a trip to their OBGYN and ask for a hormone test. This is a great first step towards treating your health issues. But the results can be confusing and concerning without a little background information and preparation. Knowledge is power! Theres no need to be mystified.
Remember: no result received is static, the diagnosis you get can and will change with the right kind of treatment.
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What Is Hormonal Imbalance
Hormones are produced by the endocrine glands, which create hormones to travel throughout the body to tell your organs what to do. These are responsible for many of the vital functions of your body, including your metabolism and reproduction. If the levels are too high or too low, this leads to significant negative effects on the body.
Various tests can be used to test your hormone levels, which can offer excellent insight as to what may be causing your problems. Then you can begin the right treatment to help you get back to feeling like yourself.
How Are Hormone Levels Tested
Often practitioners rely on blood tests alone to provide information about hormone levels. But Ive found that sometimes, a blood test wont give me the full story. Not only that, but the range considered normal in many blood tests is so wide it doesnt pick up on slight imbalances that can make a huge difference. Thats why so many women are told their levels are in the normal range, but still feel lousy.
Saliva tests have been shown to be more accurate for measuring cortisol, DHEA, and for some, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels. Saliva testing provides more specific information and measures the amount of hormone bioavailable at the cellular level, rather than simply how much is circulating in the bloodstream.
Your provider should discuss all the options with you so that together you can decide which form of testing makes the most sense. Its also important to note that to get the best information, hormone levels should be monitored over time. One moment in time doesnt provide enough information to understand your normal.
Some women ask about the testing kits that are being sold for home use now. I always think its best to have testing done through your health care practitioner, who can help you interpret results and guide you in treatment.
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A Full Thyroid Investigation
Why you might need it: The thyroid regulates metabolism, including body temperature, heart rate, growth, energy production, the musculoskeletal system and brain health: basically every cell in the body needs thyroid hormones to function. If youre struggling to lose weight or have a low mood, its worth exploring the thyroid hormones.
What will it tell you? An imbalance of either high or low levels of TSH are linked to hyperthyroidism . If you get your thyroid tested by your GP, they usually just test some of the thyroid hormones .
But its also worth looking at FT3 levels when FT4 is normal and hyperthyroid is suspected. FT3 levels are usually raised and are the first to show change. Low levels of T3 are linked to depression.
Make the most of your moods and hormones, we have vitamins, tools and tips to help you support you better,
What Causes An Imbalance In Hormones
Hormone imbalance can be the result of various issues. There may be an underlying medical condition that is causing a shift in the level of hormones. Also, you may be taking medicines that are causing a change in your hormonal balance. At times, even minor stress can cause hormonal imbalance.
In women, polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is a leading cause for hormonal imbalance. The changes in hormone levels due to PCOS come with a whole different set of symptoms, which include irregular periods, darkening of skin, excessive hair on face and chin and weight gain.
Men also go through hormone imbalance. Changes in the hormone levels for men are usually caused by low levels of testosterone. Since testosterone plays a vital part in mens health, low testosterone levels can result in complications. Common symptoms of low testosterone include breast tissue development, erectile dysfunction, loss of bone mass, reduction in body hair and infertility.
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Natural Ways To Support Healthy Hormones
While you should always speak to your doctor if you have hormonal imbalance, he might not have to give you any kind of medication to restore the balance. This is particularly true if the imbalance is caused by something like diet or stress. In general, people who have the following criteria are at higher risks of developing hormonal imbalances:
- Being overweight or obese
- Consuming an excessive amount of alcohol
- Being exposed to pesticides and toxins
- Experiencing high stress levels
- Not sleeping enough
Many of these risk factors are easily controlled when you’re mindful of your diet, exercise routine, and daily habits. If you quit smoking, moderate your drinking, or avoid exposure to pesticides, you can help reduce your risk factor for hormonal imbalances and naturally keep them moderated.
Changing the way you eat can go a long way towards improving your hormonal balance. For example, when you exchange carbohydrates for healthy fats, like coconut oil and avocado, you can lower your bodys inflammation and help maintain your hormone at the right levels. Consuming enough proteins will help control the ghrelin hormone that makes you feel hungry. This gives you the feeling of fullness and then, you will stop eating at the appropriate time and maintain a healthy weight.
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.
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Hormone Imbalance And Hormone Testing
A woman’s hormones are constantly changing and the slightest imbalance can change how you feel day to day. A hormonal imbalance can affect the menstrual cycle, mood, metabolism, libido, and sleep. Testing hormones is a critical step in understanding a womanâs reproductive and general health. Knowing if you have a hormonal imbalance is the first step to understanding the changes you may be experiencing in your body.
What Is The Difference Between Treatment You Can Get With And Without Blood Test Results
Dr Aziz-Scott: GPs follow the NICE guidelines which state that if a patient is over 45, blood tests are not mandatory and HRT can be initiated, depending on symptoms. It is only if a patient is under 45 that an FSH blood test is required. LH levels will also be checked, but estrogen will not be. This means that patients may be getting a one-size-fits-all treatment.
At the Marion Gluck Clinic, all patients are required to undergo blood tests to allow us to provide bespoke, personalised treatment tailored precisely to your bodys requirements.
Youll note that:
- We will complete a detailed hormone analysis and provide the correct hormones in the appropriate dosages for your individual needs. We know that estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA all interact, and that a balance of hormones is essential for optimum health and controlled symptoms. It is therefore the gold standard to have all hormones analysed before treatment.
- The free testosterone that we can measure in the private sector is not usually available on the NHS. We can check total testosterone and SHBG to work out the free androgen index, which tells us how much testosterone is bioavailable in the body.
- We monitor our patients hormone levels and adjust treatment accordingly. We are always monitoring the treatments efficiency and efficacy.
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Testing For A Hormonal Imbalance
There are numerous types of tests for your doctor to choose from in order to detect a hormonal imbalance. Your symptoms will surely put him in the right direction. So, you do need to fully disclose to your doctor about your signs and symptoms for him to order the right hormones to be tested.
A blood test is one of the most common ways to test hormone levels. This test can detect testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, and thyroid levels. You should order a test that’s specific to your gender, as a women’s hormone test will look for different levels of sex hormones than a men’s test. A simple saliva test can detect several types of hormones as well. With a saliva test, you can look at your estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone levels.
If your doctor is concerned about a particular gland in your body, he or she might order an ultrasound. This can be the case of testing the pituitary gland, uterus, testicles, ovaries, and thyroid. An X-ray or MRI will offer further opportunities for imaging. Depending on the results of prior tests, additional types of testing might often be needed to have a better diagnosis. A biopsy of a problematic gland can help your healthcare provider find issues with that specific gland.
Come Armed With Your Own Research
It never hurts to present a physician with your own research on the topic that concerns you. If youve done your homework, feel free to bring along books, studies or other materials on the subject.This can help start the conversation, letting your doctor know that youre informed and serious about getting answers. Another research step you can take is to complete a comprehensive hormonal profile test at home and take the results to your appointment.
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