Know Your Hormones
My women patients have told me repeatedly that other health care practitioners have informed them that hormone levels cannot be tested. What? How can so many medical professionals still not know that hormone levels can be measured, and that knowing these levels is absolutely key to treating women!
I am amazed at the inaccuracy of information that continues in this area of women’s health. If you are suffering from long-term symptoms that you believe are hormone related, or perhaps more recent symptoms that threaten to take over your life, consider seeing a hormone specialist and getting tested.
I honestly do not know how I could effectively treat women without this invaluable information. Hormone testing has allowed me to help so many women alleviate the nagging, and sometimes disabling, symptoms that they just do not need to put up with. Below are some of the hormones that can be tested and their roles in the body.
Primarily a female hormone, it is secreted by the ovaries, but is also present in men. In women, estrogen protects against heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, memory disorders, vaginal atrophy and urinary incontinence. It also prevents symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes, irritability, mood swings, hot flashes, and night sweats. It improves balance by improving the visual somatosensory system within the central nervous system. Estrogen is instrumental in orchestrating the menstrual cycle and works in harmony with progesterone, both of which are essential to normal, healthy female function.
Estrogen deficiency results in sagging breast tissue and skin, increased facial wrinkles, fatigue, depression, mood swings and decreased libido (sex drive).
This is considered a female hormone, but is present in both men and women. The root components of the word (“pro” means “for” and “gesterone” means “gestation”) clearly point out the importance of this hormone for fetal development. It is produced in four areas of the body: the ovaries, the corpus luteum (the ruptured follicle), the adrenal glands, and in pregnant women, the placenta. Progesterone is often used to treat PMS. It protects against uterine and breast cancers, osteoporosis, fibrocystic disease and ovarian cysts. Optimal progesterone levels often help with alleviating depression, reducing anxiety, providing a sensation of calmness, and improving sleep. Synthetic progestins are often used to replace natural progesterone levels in the body. However, this typically produces unwanted side effects, and is not similar to natural or human-derived progesterone in any way. There are numerous benefits to optimizing human bioidentical progesterone levels and keeping estrogen and progesterone in balance.
Produced by the adrenal glands, testes and ovaries, it is a hormone vital to both sexes. It contributes to muscle mass, strength, endurance, decreased fat, increased exercise tolerance, enhancement of well-being, and sex drive. In males, testosterone protects against cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and arthritis. It leads to improved lean muscle mass, increased bone density, decreases in cholesterol, improved skin tone, improved healing capacity, and increased libido and sexual performance. Testosterone prolongs the quality of life by decreasing age-related diseases—as does estrogen in females. Testosterone is also extremely important in females for body fat reduction, sense of well-being, improved memory and mental status, libido, endurance and energy, making supplementation a potentially beneficial option for both men and women.
A precursor hormone made in the brain, pregnenolone functions as a memory enhancer and is a factor in cellular repair, particularly in the brain and nerve tissue. It protects against neuronal injury and facilitates cerebral (brain) function. This hormone is important for quality of sleep, mood, and is used in the treatment of adrenal fatigue (stress syndrome).
This is produced by the pineal gland (in the brain). It is a neurotransmitter hormone that regulates circadian rhythm (your patterns of sleep). Research has shown that the cells of the body rejuvenate and repair during the deeper stages of sleep. Deeper stages of IV sleep help produce natural “CD4” killer cells—which are important to a strong immune function and growth hormone production. Deep sleep also helps energize the body and improve mood. Melatonin has powerful antioxidant effects, which also help disease prevention. Melatonin deficiency is linked to poor sleep, jet lag, irritability, hypersensitivity and premature aging. Studies also link it to inhibiting breast cancer cell proliferation.
Produced by the thyroid gland, this metabolic hormone regulates temperature, metabolism, and cerebral function. It contributes to energy levels and the body’s ability to maintain a constant temperature. It increases fat breakdown, improves head hair growth, and reduces cholesterol levels and bodyweight. Thyroid hormone is probably the safest and most beneficial cholesterol-reducing agent, yet it is infrequently used for this purpose. It is also vital in the prevention of cognitive (mental) impairment.
Cortisol is an essential hormone secreted by the adrenal glands and involved in the following functions and more: Proper glucose metabolism, regulation of blood pressure, insulin release for blood sugar maintenance, immune function, and proper inflammatory response. Normally, this “get-up-an-go” hormone is at its highest levels in the morning and at its lowest at night. Cortisol has been termed “the stress hormone” because it’s secreted in higher levels during the body’s fight or flight response to stress, and is responsible for several stress-related changes in the body. Higher and more prolonged levels of Cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects on the body, such as: Impaired cognitive (mental) performance, suppressed thyroid function (weight gain), blood sugar imbalances such as hyper (high) or hypo (low) glycemia (blood sugar), decreased bone density, decline in muscle mass, higher blood pressure, lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems that fat deposited in other areas of the body.
So there you have it…. Isn’t it so interesting that your hormones control just about everything you do?
I am sure that many of you reading this can relate to one or more of these hormones being out of balance. Don’t wait any longer, if you are feeling bad– go get yourself tested and ask for the full panel. Just make sure it is someone that can interpret the results for you! Education in this area is so helpful and I trust it will help you!
Blessings and Light!