Hormones are messengers between body systems that help regulate physiology and behavior, including digestion, metabolism, respiration, tissue function, sleep, stress, growth, movement, reproduction, and mood and play an integral role in overall health. Millions of women suffer from hormonal imbalances that interfere with their health and quality of life. A healthy and well-balanced body manufactures all of the hormones it needs to function. However, when you have a hormone imbalance, you have too much or too little of a certain hormone and it can have a serious effect throughout the whole body. Think of hormones like a cake recipe. Too much or too little of any one ingredient affects the final product.
Signs of hormonal imbalance in women include breast tenderness, weight gain in the abdomen, hips, and thighs, decreased libido, irregular cycles, thyroid dysfunction, constipation, muscle weakness, muscle and joint stiffness, increased hunger, thinning hair, and night sweats.
Hormone fluctuations occur naturally as we age. However, hormonal imbalances can also be caused by our lifestyle. Hormone balance is tied to the food we eat, the exercise we get, the toxins we absorb, and the stress we carry. Your lifestyle should work with your hormones, not against them.
The wrong food can actually harm your body. An unhealthy diet consisting of refined carbohydrates, sugar, fat, soy, and processed foods can lead to inflammation and weight gain that can easily contribute to hormonal imbalances. Certain foods, like gluten and dairy, can actually burden the liver so that the liver is unable to properly detoxify leading to an excess of hormones. Exercise also has a direct impact on hormones, including insulin, estrogen, and testosterone. It also helps increase serotonin and dopamine levels which can help with mood and relieve stress. Stress relief is important because when the body is stressed, more cortisol, a hormone, is released at the expense of other hormones. Risk factors that may contribute to hormonal imbalance include smoking, hormonal birth control, and polycystic ovaries and/or breasts.
Unfortunately, a majority of women are living life with some level of hormone imbalance as they have come to accept the symptoms as normal signs of aging. Furthermore, traditional medicine does not offer much in the way of solutions. Conventional treatments for hormone imbalances usually leave people dependent on prescription drugs that mask the symptoms rather than addressing and treating the root cause. A functional medicine doctor will ask why the body is failing to produce and regulate proper hormone levels. Often times, the answer lies in a related system, such as the thyroid, showing just how important functional medicine is becoming in today’s healthcare system.
While there is no single test for doctors to diagnose a hormone imbalance, a functional medicine doctor may conduct both blood and saliva tests to determine different hormone levels, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, and cortisol. A detailed health history will also be conducted to determine whether there are any conditions that may be contributing to a hormonal imbalance, such as adrenal fatigue, a common cause of hormonal imbalance.
Treatment is dependent on the type of hormonal imbalance, but can include bioidentical hormone replacement therapy in the form of a cream or injected pellets, including estrogen and/or testosterone, and thyroid therapy. In addition, a good diet and exercise regimen, as well as certain supplements can help to naturally restore and balance hormones.
J. Gruber Health Solutions in Denver, Colorado is a functional medicine practice focusing specifically on hormone health. Hormone health is about living better and Dr. Gruber can help you achieve that goal. Contact us today at 303-746-1964 to set up your consultation today!