Are you suddenly experiencing inexplicable physical and behavioral changes for no apparent reason? Like sudden mood swings, stubborn weight gain, excessive fatigue, hair loss, forgetfulness.
Are others starting to notice?
And how many times have you heard “It must be your hormones!” thrown around as a joke?
This time, maybe it’s no joke. You may really be suffering from hormone imbalance and could benefit from hormone replacement therapy.
What are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that work in harmony to ensure that your brain, cells, muscles, reproductive organs, and bones function… well, in balance. A lack of production or deficiency of any one of your hormones causes an imbalance that lead to unusual physical or behavioral changes.
Below are just a few of the symptoms you might experience if you have a hormone imbalance problem:
- mood swings or feeling irritable
- feeling bloated
- stress or feeling overwhelmed
- hot flashes and night sweats
- steady weight gain
- insomnia or depression
- fatigue or low energy
- endometriosis (abdominal pain)
- low libido
- vaginal dryness
- foggy memory
- inability to concentrate
Causes of Hormone Imbalance
To prevent or treat hormone imbalances, you must first understand some of the factors associated with hormone production. The most common factors are age, nutrition and habits.
Age related causes of hormone imbalance are natural and to be expected. As we age, our reproductive glands loose their ability to secrete hormones naturally. This leads to a drop in our hormone levels, triggering the onset of the characteristic symptoms of menopause. The result is hormonal imbalance.
Our eating habits most definitely impact our hormone levels. It’s important that we eliminate or avoid the foods we ingest that prevent optimal hormone production.
Specifically, the following food items can negatively affect your hormone production:
- Unsprouted grains, fructose or sugar will lead to a decrease in 7 of your 12 most important hormones
- Too much alcohol is detrimental to human growth hormones
- Carbohydrates, especially refined sugars are stored under your skin as fat and decreases the production of growth hormones
- Coffee increases insulin and decreases growth hormones and thyroid hormones
Lack of nutrients can, for instance, affect your adrenal glands which produces Cortisol, also known as steroid hormone or stress hormone. This hormone regulates a wide range of processes in the body including your metabolism and immune response.
Unhealthy habits also play a role in our overall hormone imbalance. For instance, lack of exercise reduces the production of endorphins, an important hormones that relieves stress, improves sleep and give us positive mental outlook.
Studies show that breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers are linked to the hormonal imbalance between estrogen and progesterone levels — a condition commonly referred to as estrogen dominance, which also causes many metabolic dysfunctions.
Treatment Options for Hormone Imbalance
There is little that you can do to reverse aging ovaries and normal physiology to prevent hormonal imbalance. However, you can diligently guard against unhealthy diets that reduce production of many hormones.
Take note of the following nutritional guidelines for better hormone balance:
- Healthy fats and high-quality protein will improve the production of progesterone and DHEA (a hormone proven to be effective in treating obesity) in your body
- As you age, the paleolithic diet (which focuses on meat, nuts, and berries and avoids grains, dairy, and processed foods) will help increase the levels of your healthy hormones
- Nutritional supplements, such as fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A), can promote progesterone release
- Magnesium supplements will boost your sex hormone levels
As you know, it has become almost impossible to get the nutrients you need by consuming food alone. Vitamins A, Riboflavin, D2, K, Magnesium, calcium, iodine and complex amino acids are just a few of the supplements that aid in the production of hormones. Ask your doctor for a recommendation upon assessing your hormone labs.
Additionally, we must form healthy habits that supports a healthy lifestyle such as regular exercise, meditation and social interaction.
Besides lifestyle changes, which should be your priority for a preventive approach, another option is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT).
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement has been found to have numerous benefits. Studies have indicated that women with symptoms of menopause, including surgically induced medical menopause, should consider hormone replacement.
Synthetic hormone replacement is available, but synthetic hormones are not ideal because of their potential side effects, such as vaginal bleeding, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, skin rashes, and acne. This treatment is also associated with stroke, heart attack, and breast cancer.
A safer and ideal option is bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Your body recognizes bioidentical hormones as normal because these plant based hormones are structurally identical to those that are naturally produced by your body.
Bioidentical hormones can be administered using various delivery methods:
- subcutaneous pellets
- sublingual drops or pills
To avoid the rollercoaster effects of most methods, EARLMD uses pellet therapy exclusively. Each pellet is custom produced at a compound pharmacy to address your specific symptoms.
The pellet releases hormones throughout the day, much like your body would. It is also convenient since the pellet, the size of a grain or rice, is inserted under the skin once every 3 to 4 months.
Most importantly, when you decide to undergo BHRT, remember that cases of hormone imbalance cannot be generalized. Individual symptoms call for individual treatments, so consult an experience doctor who specializes in hormone therapy.
Also, nutrition and complementary strategies should be considered for a holistic approach in restoring your hormonal balance.
In conclusion, talk of hormones is a serious matter. Hormones gone wild can suddenly turn your quality of life upside down. So, make sure you take steps towards balancing your hormones. Your first line of attack is maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, taking supplements, avoiding undue stress and watching your weight.
For symptoms that cannot be treated through nutrition and lifestyle changes, like menopause, we know BHRT is an effective solution. For more information call your local BHRT specialist.
Kevin Earl, MD
Kevin Earl, MD is a board certified physician and graduated from Arkansas Tech University Magna Cum Laude.
Dr. Earl specializes in non-invasive and minimally invasive anti-aging and body contouring procedures.
His practice, EARLMD in Bentonville, AR, is a patient-centered medical aesthetic practice that uses the latest technology and medical advances to rejuvenate your skin and restore your body to a more youthful appearance.