How can you tell if your hormones are out of balance and why is it important to have your hormones in balance? These are two questions that I get asked a lot. Sometimes hormone imbalances can be very subtle and require appropriate testing in order to determine whether they are out of balance. Other times people know that something is going on with their hormones because they are experiencing a lot of symptoms such as: 1) headaches, 2) sleeplessness, 3) hot flashes, 4) night sweats, 5) vaginal dryness, 6) pain with intercourse, 7) urinary symptoms and frequent urinary tract infections, 8) decreased desire for sex, 9) difficulty loosing weight, 10) gaining weight around the middle without a change in either diet or exercise, 11) breast pain, 12) breast lumpiness, 13) fatigue, 14) dry skin, 15) constipation, 16) difficulty dealing with daily stress, 17) increased cancer risk, 18) depression, 19) anxiety, 20) hair loss, 21) heart disease risk, 22) fatty liver, and many more. Not all of these symptoms have to be present for there to be an imbalance.
There are many hormones in the body and they all work together in a symphony. If they do not work together well then people frequently do not feel normal , but they just can’t put their finger on what is wrong. Energy levels are not normal. These hormone categories include thyroid, adrenal, sex hormones, hormones involved with metabolism, neurotransmitters, and many others. So when one category is out of balance there is a downstream effect on all of the other hormones. The reasons for trying to get the hormones in balance are to improve a person’s well being and decrease cancer risk as many cancers are increased by hormone imbalances. Problems can occur when there is either too much or too little estrogen, too much or too little progesterone, too much or too little testosterone, and too much or too little cortisol; Imbalances between ghrelin and leptin, between insulin and glucagon, between the neurotransmitters serotonin, GABA, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glutamine lead to many of the health issues that people experience today.
The question is, how can you find out if there is an imbalance? Specialized testing can be done through the office to determine this. Once you find out what is out of balance then steps can be taken to solve the problem, many times without drugs that have potentially unpleasant side effects. Natural bio-identical (exactly the same as what the body manufactures) hormones can be a benefit to many women, but that is not the end of the story. However, once hormones are started, it is important to test them again to be sure that the dosages recommended are bringing things into balance. The key word here is BALANCE, because it involves everything.
Dr. Yankama, MD, MPH, Ob/Gyn, FAAARM (functional medicine); 269-969-6115