Hormones are natural chemicals within the cells of the body that travel through the bloodstream to organs and tissues. Hormones are essential for a variety of functions, including regulating a woman's metabolism, growth, immunity function and sexual reproduction. Hormone production tends to decrease naturally over time. As the production of certain hormones decreases, there may be an overproduction of other hormones within the body, which often results in hormonal imbalances that affect the health in different ways.
Hormonal imbalance generally occurs as a reaction to elevated levels of the hormone estrogen, and lower levels of the hormone progesterone. Estrogen helps regulate the menstrual cycle; progesterone is essential for healthy pregnancy. The most common hormonal imbalance among women of all ages is progesterone deficiency; common among menopausal women is estrogen deficiency. There are different treatment options available for hormone imbalances.
Causes of Hormone Imbalance
Most cases of hormone imbalance occur in women older than 35, although an imbalance may develop at other ages. Hormone imbalance may be caused by a number of contributing factors, which include the following:
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Some research indicates that there may be link between certain behaviors and hormone levels and a poor diet and lack of exercise may contribute to a hormonal imbalance.
Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance
Although symptoms of hormone imbalance vary depending on what is causing the imbalance, common symptoms usually include the following:
Bouts of sweating
Rapid weight gain
Women suffering from hormonal imbalances may experience headaches, depression, mood swings, irritability and memory lapses.
Diagnosis of Hormone Imbalance
Hormone levels are tested through several different methods, although some cases of hormone imbalance are diagnosed simply by evaluating patients' symptoms.
One test commonly used to diagnose hormonal imbalance is saliva testing, which is a laboratory analysis of a sample of the patient's saliva. It provides information about the levels of hormones circulating through the body, not just those present within specific tissue.
Treatment of Hormone Imbalance
Treatment for a hormone imbalance depends on the cause and specific needs of the patient. One treatment is hormone-replacement therapy (HRT), in which medication containing estrogen and or progesterone is prescribed to replace the hormones that are deficient within the ovaries.
A word about testosterone:
In women, as in men, testosterone is thought to influence sexual function, bone density, muscle mass, bone marrow function, energy, cognitive function and mood. Testosterone deficiency in women may result from a variety of conditions including hysterectomy, adrenalectomy, adrenal disease, pituitary disease, HIV infection, premature ovarian failure, Turner's syndrome, and the use of high-dose corticosteroids and some estrogen preparations. Simple aging and natural menopause may also contribute to testosterone deficiency .
Bioidentical forms of hormones are available and are delivered through pills, patches, creams, by injection or implanted pellet BASED ON YOUR INDIVIDUAL LABS AND RISK. Many risks are associated with HRT including heart disease, stroke and cancer. Other negative effects of HRT include bone marrow dysfuction, liver dysfunction, weight gain, unwanted hair or voice changes. Risks may vary depending on a woman's health history and lifestyle. Before deciding if HRT is appropriate, a woman should discuss its risks and benefits at length before proceeding with treatment.
Women suffering from depression or mood changes due to a hormone imbalance may also benefit from taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication that help to restore sleep, reduce irritibility and hot flashes at low doses. In addition to medical treatment, some patients are able to alleviate the symptoms of hormone imbalance by maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle.