Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance
For women, hormonal imbalance can start to show itself in a number of different menopausal symptoms. Often, an irregular menstrual cycle is the first noticeable sign that a woman is entering menopausal transition. As for the other menopausal symptoms, those can vary depending on which hormones happen to be affected at any given time. After all, menopause is accompanied by fluctuating hormone levels, so symptoms will come and go. Let's delve into some of the different hormones and how they may be affected by menopause:
Progesterone is a hormone that serves as a building block for other hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, DHEA, and cortisol. It also plays a crucial role in a woman's menstrual cycle and overall reproductive function. With progesterone levels fluctuating so much during this time, a woman can feel a host of negative symptoms. For example, low progesterone levels often lead to estrogen dominance due to the close, direct relationship between progesterone and estrogen. Here are just some of the symptoms that result from erratic progesterone levels:
- Vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and night sweats)
- Memory loss and other cognitive issues (foggy brain)
- Bone loss
- Low libido (often resulting from vaginal dryness)
- Sagging skin
- Thyroid malfunction
- Weight gain
- Inconsistent menstrual cycle
- Mood swings
While testosterone is technically a steroid hormone, it is most widely known as the most prominent of the sex hormones, specifically in men. Yet, testosterone is also one of the most influential female hormones and has a large impact on women's health. Whereas testosterone is produced in the testes for men, the origins of female testosterone can be traced to the adrenal glands and ovaries. In regards to its role as a female sex hormone, testosterone is directly responsible for nipple and clitoral stimulation. When testosterone levels fluctuate during menopause, a woman can experience some of the following symptoms:
- Low libido
- Inflamed joints
- Low energy
- Decreased libido
- Loss of muscle mass
- Loss of bone density (brittle bones and osteoporosis)
- Hair loss
- Deepened voice
- Irregular or absent menstrual cycle
- Weight gain
Estrogen, like progesterone, plays a vital role in a woman's reproductive function and menstrual cycle. In fact, estrogen and progesterone affect each other so directly that the symptoms of imbalanced estrogen levels and imbalanced progesterone levels mirror each other very closely. As mentioned before, estrogen dominance goes hand-in-hand with low progesterone levels. A loss of estrogen can also have a large impact on a woman's health. Here are just some of the symptoms that result from fluctuating estrogen levels:
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Irregular or absent menstrual cycle
- Vaginal dryness
- Low libido
- Tender breasts
- Mood swings
- Cognitive dysfunction
- Increased risk of urinary tract infections (UTI's)
- Weight gain and bloating
- Increased risk of blood clots and stroke
Ways to Test for Hormonal Imbalance
Of course, the best way to get to the root of any negative symptoms you may be experiencing is to gain a proper evaluation of your various hormone levels. Fortunately, there are a few different options when it comes to hormone level testing.
The first is a blood serum test. While a serum test may not be good to measure certain hormones when a person is using creams or gels for hormone replacement therapy, there are certain hormones that show up in the blood stream but not in other forms of testing. Insulin and thyroid hormones, for example, will not show up in saliva or urine analysis. Due to it being such a specific and precise test, serum testing is most often used in tandem with another form of testing.
You can also test for most hormone levels through saliva. Saliva testing is useful, because it allows someone to measure their hormone levels throughout the day. Since hormones fluctuate throughout the day (a process known as a circadian rhythm), it is important to get a total picture of your hormone levels before starting any kind of treatment. However, many people find it difficult to generate that much saliva throughout the day.
That's where urine level testing comes in. Like saliva testing, urine level testing allows for people to get multiple readings throughout the day and capture the fluctuations of the circadian rhythm. At the same time, many people find urine level testing to be much easier to do than saliva testing. Combining urine testing with serum testing could help give your bio-identical hormone therapy practitioner a complete picture of your levels before coming up with a treatment plan.
Treatments for Hormonal Imbalance
The most common forms of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) treatment using bio-identical hormones are creams, gels, and pills. However, in some cases you and your practitioner may consider a hormonal treatment using pellets, patches, or injections. Your practitioner will work closely with you to discover which combination of treatment options is right for you.
Creams, Gels, Pills & Patches
Bio-identical hormone creams, gels, pills and patches of varying strength (individualized for each woman's needs) are commonly used for estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Thyroid hormones are usually offered in pill form as a hormonal replacement treatment.
Most hormone pills are gelatin capsules and are usually taken with food to be easily absorbed in the body. Topical gels or bio-identical hormone cream are applied with a pre-measured syringe to the stomach, inner thighs or inner arms and are absorbed through the skin, directly into the blood stream. Some gels or creams are designed for vaginal use. Patches, like bio-identical hormone cream and gels, allow direct skin absorption throughout the day.
Testosterone for women is often administered orally, but self-injections are another option.
It is common for a combination of options to be used for menopause treatment or the treatment of other hormone imbalances.
Pellet therapy has been available in the United States since 1939. It is a sustainable delivery method for bio-identical hormone therapy and is an ideal hormone imbalance treatment that helps balance body chemistry and restores health and vitality in women suffering the symptoms of hormonal imbalances. The effect that the pellets have is nearly identical to the way hormones are naturally produced in healthy 30-something year-old women.
The long-lasting pellets make this form of hormone replacement therapy especially easy and convenient. You only need to meet with your BodyLogicMD-affiliated anti-aging practitioner every three to five months for an easy insertion. During the simple in-office procedure, the tiny pellets are inserted into the upper hip or buttock area. The small incision site requires just a small bandage. Pellets, which can contain bio-identical estrogen or testosterone, react to the needs of your body by secreting additional hormones just as your body naturally would during periods of stress or exercise.
Many patients notice a difference very quickly. However, it can take up to two weeks for the full effect to be felt, and results can last up to six months. Your practitioner will closely monitor your progress to ensure that you sustain proper hormone levels and to determine the timing for subsequent pellet insertions.
Regardless of your menopause treatment methods, you can rest assured that your practitioner will help you find relief from the uncomfortable symptoms and chronic health issues caused by your hormonal imbalance.
Allow us to Help
It goes without saying that this is a lot to take in. With such a large list of symptoms, how can we know where to even begin with treatment? The personalized nature of menopause makes it impossible to treat exclusively with over-the-counter products. That is why you need an expert in hormonal therapy to evaluate your hormone levels with state-of-the-art testing before embarking on a treatment plan.
Contact one of the highly trained bio-identical hormone therapy practitioners in the BodyLogicMD network to schedule an appointment and learn more about how a bio-identical hormone replacement therapy plan can relieve your symptoms and improve your life.