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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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Low Estrogen In Men
In men, male menopause may result from too little estrogen in addition to lower testosterone levels, at least according to some recent studies. Diminished libido, strength and energy are the main symptoms. However, testosterone levels tend not to fall as sharply in aging men as estrogen does in women who are post-menopausal. Further research is needed to determine if changes that come with aging are due to hormonal declines and if so, which hormones are the culprit.
Treatment For Hormone Imbalance
There are various treatments for a hormonal imbalance, and they depend on what is causing the problem. Common treatments include medication, lifestyle changes, and supplements.
Having a balanced diet, exercise, losing weight, and changing sleeping patterns can help for mild hormone imbalances. Furthermore, vitamins and natural supplements can correct hormone imbalances. Herbs like ginseng and red clover are sometimes effective, as are selenium and vitamin D.
More serious cases of hormonal imbalance can require hormone therapy and medication. In addition to testosterone or estrogen supplements, patients can have thyroid-based hormone therapy, anti-androgen medication, or metformin.
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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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Accurate Diagnosis Of Hormone Disorders
Symptoms caused by hormonal issues such as fatigue, weakness and more can look like those of many other common conditions, so correctly diagnosing an endocrine disorder can take a bit of detective work.
Once youve received a preliminary diagnosis from your primary care doctor, endocrinologists in the Sutter Health network can use a variety of lab tests to measure the levels of various hormones in your body. These tests may reveal which endocrine system glands are not working correctly.
- Tests to detect diabetes and prediabetes include the blood glucose test and the glycosylated hemoglobin test . If youre pregnant, you may receive a glucose tolerance test to screen for gestational diabetes.
- Several tests, primarily a thyroid stimulating hormone assessment, can show how well your thyroid is working.
- Other tests can assess for parathyroid conditions.
- Blood tests for luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone can help to detect female hormonal issues.
- Tests for total testosterone can pinpoint male hormonal issues.
- Other blood tests detect levels of hormones, such as cortisol, 17 hydroxyprogesterone, DHEA-sulfate, ACTH, aldosterone, vitamin D, PTH, prolactin and various forms of estrogen, that affect different systems.
- Tests for thyroglobulin levels can monitor thyroid cancer.
Your endocrinologist may request imaging exams to look at your endocrine system function.
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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.
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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.
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Three Categories Of Symptoms Often Caused By Hormonal Imbalances
When we see patients at Madison Womens Health for hormonal imbalances, most of their symptoms and concerns fall into three categories:
Lets first discuss these groups of symptoms. Next, well cover the most common hormones your doctor may check based on your symptoms.
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What Is A Hormone Imbalance
A hormone imbalance occurs when the body isnt producing sufficient amounts of one or more hormones necessary for the body to function properly. Women commonly experience low estrogen levels and men commonly experience low testosterone levels with age.
Both men and women can experience low thyroid-stimulating hormone levels . Although the condition is more common in women, men are more likely to experience significant symptoms relating to hyperthyroidism .
Some conditions may cause or result in hormone imbalance in individuals regardless of age, such as polycystic ovary syndrome , which involves increased androgen levels in women that can cause effects like irregular periods, infertility, and hair growth. Endocrine diseases, especially ones that affect the adrenal glands like Addisons Disease, can also result in hormonal disruptions that have nothing to do with age.
Hormone imbalances can disrupt the bodys homeostasis. Every human body needs the right balance of hormones like testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormones to function. When youre fully grown, the body uses these hormones to maintain its health. Hormones also affect the way you look and the way your body produces energy.
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Can You Test Hormone Levels
Yes, you can. Hormone testing is routinely done these days and is available for all types of hormones that commonly become unbalanced, including women hormones, men hormones, thyroid hormones, cortisol and much more. Most hormone imbalance tests are blood tests that measure the level of certain hormones circulating in the blood stream, and in some cases, whether complimentary hormones estrogen and progesterone, for instance are present in the proper ratios to work together effectively.
- Hormone tests are commonly done for the following purposes:
- To diagnose hormonal imbalances
Preparing For Hormone Testing At Cedars
We explain the tests you need and answer any questions you may have.
Heres what to expect:
- Stop certain medications: We let you know whether to stop taking drugs such as oral steroids or estrogen supplements before your test.
- Visit one of our labs: You go to a Cedars-Sinai lab and provide a blood, urine or saliva sample. If you need stimulation or suppression testing, we let you know in advance how long youll need to stay.
- Collect samples at home: If we need samples over a period of time, you may be able to perform testing at home. We give you special containers for collecting saliva or urine samples and detailed instructions on how to handle them.
- Receive more than one form of hormone testing: Blood testing is one way we evaluate hormone imbalances. We may recommend additional tests, including stimulation or suppression tests, to learn more about whats causing the imbalance.
- Undergo other forms of testing: For problems such as tumors or a possible cancer diagnosis, we use imaging to learn more about their size, location and nature.
Have Questions or Need a Second Opinion?
To make an appointment or refer a patient, call us or send a message to the Endocrinology care team.You can also have us at your convenience.
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What Are Endocrine Disorders
Endocrine disorders are a category of diseases that relate to the endocrine system. They can be caused when a gland produces an improper amount of an endocrine hormone, or by the development of lesions or tumors in the endocrine system. Infection or injury of an endocrine gland can also contribute to the development of endocrine disorders.
Some endocrine disorders are genetic, meaning patients are more likely to develop the disorder if a close family member has it.
How And Why Do Men And Women Experience Hormonal Imbalances Differently
Hormones impact men and women differently, particularly when youre dealing with those specific to the reproductive system. Men and women also go through different developmental stages. Women will experience hormonal changes with their menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause, which men do not experience. Women may experience hormonal imbalances that present through:
- Vaginal dryness or discomfort
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What Is An Endocrinologist
Endocrinologists are medical doctors who have taken several years of additional training to learn about diagnosing and treating disorders related to hormone-producing glands, which together form the bodys endocrine system. These include the thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries, testicles, hypothalamus, and pituitary. These glands affect one another and work together to produce and regulate hormones in the body. A malfunction in any of these glands, or in how they work together in the body, can cause a variety of health issues.
Thinking About Getting Your Hormones Tested Here’s What 2 Ob
Considering your cervix gets checked once a year during your pap smear, you might be wondering if your hormones should be getting some attention too. While hormone testing isn’t generally a part of a regular annual checkup, your doctor might suggest doing a test to examine specific hormones depending on the symptoms or concerns you have voiced. The results of those hormone tests can help doctors understand what’s going on within your body and diagnose a specific treatment plan.
Ahead, a look at what might cause a doctor to suggest hormone testing, some of the most common hormones that are assessed, and more.
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Hormone Therapy Wilmington Nc
There are many stigmas about hormone therapy. Many times healthcare providers are cautious to recommend it. But, physiological and controlled doses of natural hormones can give good results. They help in maintaining the health, appearance, and functioning of the internal organs. Bio-identical hormone therapies do not exert any excess pressure on the body. They ensure that the youthful levels are restored.
Medical practitioners say that every patient is unique. So hormonal requirements are unique as well this is all the more reason to get hormone levels checked. Doctors can then tailor-make the treatment schedule for every patient.
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What Happens During An Estrogen Test
Estrogens can be tested in blood, urine, or saliva. Blood or urine is usually tested in doctors office or lab. Saliva tests can be done at home.
For a blood test:
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle.
After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
For a urine test:
Your health care provider may ask you to collect all urine passed in a 24-hour period. This is called a 24-hour urine sample test. For this test, your health care provider or a laboratory professional will give you a container to collect your urine and instructions on how to collect and store your samples. A 24-hour urine sample test generally includes the following steps:
- Empty your bladder in the morning and flush that urine down. Do not collect this urine. Record the time.
- For the next 24 hours, save all your urine passed in the container provided.
- Store your urine container in the refrigerator or a cooler with ice.
- Return the sample container to your health providers office or the laboratory as instructed.
For an at-home saliva test, talk your health care provider. He or she can tell you which kit to use and how to prepare and collect your sample.
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When Should I Test My Hormones
Should I get my hormone levels tested? If you have hormonal imbalances, you may require this medication. In general, this procedure is performed during the first half of your menstrual cycle, when your menstrual cycle is more distinct. The day following the 21st day of your cycle is typically the time when progesterone tests are performed to determine whether you are pregnant.
Can You Tell If I Have Fertility Problems From My Hormone Values
Hormone analysis provides a lot of information to study fertility. It is advisable to look at the ovarian reserve in women over 35 years of age, or those with irregular menstrual cycles, previous ovarian surgery, oncology patients, etc.
In addition, the analysis of FSH, LH, estradiol, prolactin and progesterone provides valuable information for the study of fertility.
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What Are The Most Common Endocrine Disorders
There are many different types of endocrine disorders. Many of the most common disorders related to improper functioning of the pancreas, thyroid, adrenal, and pituitary glands. In the United States, the most common endocrine disorder is diabetes. More than 29 million Americans have diabetes, but nearly one-third are unaware that they have it.
Other endocrine disorders include:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
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 Cushingâs 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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Why Visit A Womens Health Doctor For Hormonal Problems
Hormones are pivotal to many bodily functions and your overall well-being. Certain symptoms can signify you have a hormonal problem, particularly if you have womens health problems. For instance, you may notice a change in your weight without making any changes to your diet or lifestyle, feel fatigued or irritable, have a low sex drive, or experience difficulty conceiving a baby. All of these issues can stem from hormonal problems.
If you are experiencing womens health symptoms, here is why you should see a gynecologist or obstetrician for hormone testing.
What Does An Endocrinologist Do
Endocrinologists specialize in treating disorders of the endocrine system, the network of hormone-producing glands in your body. Endocrinologists are qualified to diagnose and treat conditions like diabetes, thyroid diseases, infertility, growth issues, metabolic disorders, osteoporosis, some cancers, and disorders in the hormone-producing adrenal glands and pituitary glands.
Disorders and diseases that originate elsewhere can also end up causing symptoms in your endocrine system. When problems in other systems or body parts impact your endocrine system, an endocrinologist will work in tandem with your primary care doctor or other specialists to come up with a treatment plan.
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Why Is Weight Loss Recommended For Women With Certain Hormonal Imbalances
In women with hormonal imbalances, excess weight can make the symptoms worse. Medical professionals recommend weight loss to help women control their symptoms and reduce their discomfort. For women with fertility problems, excess weight can also make it more difficult to conceive. Losing weight is recommended to give a woman the best possible chance of having a baby.
How Does A Hormone Balance Test Work
Saliva, urine, and/or blood tests are the most common method for testing a patients hormone levels. Youll usually only need to provide a few small samples. Then, depending on what symptoms you experience, these samples will be evaluated by a lab to measure a variety of hormones, including:
The lab results show a snapshot of your current hormone levels at the time the samples were taken. Many of these hormones fluctuate over the course of a day, or throughout the month, so you may need to fast prior to testing, get tested at certain points in your menstrual cycle, and/or get multiple tests to get an accurate picture of your hormonal health.
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