The U.S. Census reports that there are over 50 million women in the U.S. who are over age 50. If you’re one of them, you may be experiencing the transition to menopause. You may have symptoms such as the following.
- Hot flashes and night sweats.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Mood swings.
- Vaginal dryness.
- Pain during intercourse.
- Irregular periods.
- More vaginal and urinary tract infections.
- Less interest in sex.
These symptoms are the result of changes in your body’s levels of hormones, or natural chemical messengers. Menopause may be the best-recognized condition characterized by hormonal imbalance, but it isn’t the only one. An over-active or under-active thyroid can also disrupt your balance and cause symptoms.
Here some of the well-known and lesser known hormones that your body needs to be in balance, and why they are important.
The most abundant steroid hormone in your body, DHEA helps the body manage stress, acts somewhat as a sex hormone, and has a role in the immune system. It promotes fat breakdown and protein synthesis. This hormone is also used to in the making of other hormones, including androgenic and estrogenic sex hormones. Your adrenal glands, skin, and brain produce and secrete DHEA. A low level of DHEA is a risk factor for heart disease, poor blood sugar regulation, depression, and nervousness.
Estrogen is present in both women and men. Women have much higher levels of estrogen than men do. It reduces a woman’s risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and urinary incontinence. The ovaries secret the most estrogen.Estrogen levels drop and cause well know symptoms during the transition to menopause. Low estrogen can also lead to lethargy, depression, and breakdown of collagen in the skin, leading to wrinkles.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
This hormone comes from the pituitary gland and supports tissue repair, bone health, muscle strength, and fat metabolism. Levels tend to decrease with age, and are associated with a greater risk for heart disease, reduced bone strength, greater fat mass, and trouble sleeping.
Melatonin is an antioxidant and it regulates your body’s circadian rhythm, or natural cycle of sleeping and waking. Deep sleep improves your energy levels and immune system’s strength. Melatonin comes from the pineal gland, and inadequate levels are associated with insomnia and jet lag.
This hormone comes from the ovaries, corpus luteum, and adrenal glands, as well as the placenta in pregnant women. It is lowers the risk for certain cancers, osteoporosis, and ovarian cysts.
Thyroid hormone is involved in nearly all of your body’s functions, including metabolism, regulation of body temperature and cholesterol levels, and body weight. It is produced by the thyroid gland in your neck, and the active form contains iodine molecules. Hypothyroid leads to low body temperature, fatigue, and weight gain, while hyperthyroid leads to nervousness, trouble sleeping, and unintentional weight loss.
How Can You Tell if You have A Hormone Imbalance?
Having symptoms is not necessarily a sign of hormone imbalance. If you have been unsuccessful finding relief or finding a doctor who can diagnose the cause of your symptoms, you may need to talk with a doctor who has updated information about hormone imbalance. You and your doctor will need to gather a detailed history and plan careful testing to determine whether hormone imbalance is a likely cause of your symptoms. Talk to Dr. Betty Keller about whether hormone replacement therapy can safely give you the relief and results you want for better health.
Dr. Betty Keller keeps up-to-date on the latest findings to help you develop a plan for optimal health.
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