Did you ever think about why we talk so much about hormonal imbalance?
It might surprise you to know that the very same hormones that keep us healthy, balanced and happy are the exact same hormones that can cause us emotional and physical dysfunction.
It might also come as a surprise that just one hormone level out of balance can affect the behavior of all other hormones in the body.
The hormonal system is the most delicately (and precariously) balanced system in our bodies. Chronic hormonal imbalance however, has a dramatic impact for women and men, and those that love them. Over time, the effects of such a hormonal balance can contribute to serious health issues ranging from severe perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms to increased risk of some cancers such as breast, ovarian, and prostate in men, to damage to DNA. Hormonal imbalance can also contribute to adrenal and thyroid issues as well as contributing to blood sugar handling. (Remember, insulin is a hormone!!)
Hormonal imbalance can contribute to numerous symptoms and health problems, including (but not limited to):
- Low libido
- Persistent weight gain
- Abdominal fat and loss of muscle mass
- PMS or PMDD
- Infertility (even unexplained infertility)
- Menstrual irregularities
- Blood sugar handling issues
- PCOS/Ovarian cysts
- Mood disorders such an anxiety, depression and irritability
- and many more symptoms…..
When women go to their doctors to discuss their symptoms they are either largely ignored, told the symptoms are all in their head, or worse, are put on hormone replacement therapy (birth control pills and the estrogen path are good examples of this) without the thought of why the hormonal imbalance exists in the first place.
Little to no thought is given to whether the gut is having any permeability or functional issues, whether blood sugar handling is balanced, stress levels are out of control, or the liver detoxification pathways are open and functioning the way they should be. What’s worse is when HRT is used, it is often not used with the opposing hormone in mind which can throw things further out of balance.
Hormone fluctuations can take the strongest body and render it weak, unpredictable and unreliable. However, hormonal imbalances do not need to be viewed as an inevitable part of life, or something that we should be “taken with a grain of salt”. Hormonal imbalances can occur at any stage of life and all walks of life yet no longer should be accepted as normal.
It comes as no surprise that we are seeing more and more hormonal imbalance than ever before. PCOS, increasing perimenopausal symptoms and at younger and younger ages, osteopenia and osteoporosis long before the age of 70 (average age of osteoporosis onset), infertility issues are on the rise and let’s not forget Type 2 Diabetes and metabolic syndrome and obesity (yes, beauties, those both contribute and are contribute to by hormonal imbalance!).
There is a silver lining. Hormonal imbalance can be fixed with the right lifestyle choices, nutrition, stress management, exercise plan and well placed supplements. It is possible to reclaim your health. Even better news… menopause, while inevitable, doesn’t have to be the stressful mess that many women experience.
Having said that, please understand, hormonal therapy has its place in a treatment protocol. Whether it is simple DHEA or pregnenolone supplementation, progesterone therapy, or a full range of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone compounded from bio-identical sources, hormonal restoration often does help to get the more serious imbalances back into kilter.
Having a basic understanding of our hormones is the key to beginning the process of restoring our body’s natural synchronization. Hormones have too much impact on our lives to minimize their importance. Our entire lifestyle can affect hormone balance and, conversely, hormone balance can profoundly influence every aspect of our lives.
What is the role of our hormones?
Hormones coordinate the constant biochemical activity that occurs in every cell in our body. They are the chemicals that are responsible for every system in our body functioning on a day-to-day basis.
Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. They orchestrate the symphony of our metabolic processes by stimulating changes in body cells. As hormone levels fluctuate throughout your lifetime, you may notice mood changes, body composition changes, your overall sensitivity changes. Staying up all night drinking and going to work the next morning at 23 may not be as tempting at 32!
There are many different types of hormones in our body. Hormones, which are created in various endocrine glands throughout the body, are found in the blood, where they circulate continually bathing our tissues.
A hormone molecule is useless unless it binds to and interacts with a “receptor” on or in a cell. Receptors in our cells are a bit like “parking spots” in the cells. Receptors within our cells are sensitive to particular hormones, and the binding of the hormone to the receptor will cause a very specific reaction within the cell. The more hormone present in the cell or the more highly sensitized the receptors, the more intense the reaction.
Resistances to certain hormones like insulin, estrogen and leptin occur when the cells are bombarded with more hormone than the receptors can handle over a long period of time.
Want to know more about how the endocrine system works? Take this animated tour through the endocrine system by clicking the picture below.
In Part 2 of this series we will be taking a quick look at the biochemistry of hormones, enzymes, and their roles in the cells. We will be discussing exactly how estrogen dominance occurs, the importance of progesterone and hormonal balance as a whole, the “other” hormone imbalance most doctors don’t look at as a hormone and why they should, what causes hormonal imbalance and the importance of balancing hormones.
Watch for info on our upcoming webinar “Restoring Your Balance”!