Hormones are tiny – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t powerful. These little chemical messengers have a huge impact on your physical, mental, and emotional health. They control many vital functions of your body, including appetite, weight, mood, and more.
When your hormones are functioning in a healthy way, your endocrine glands produce and release the right amount and mix of hormones needed for the everyday functions of your body.
But as you age, or have shifts in your health, or experience stress, your hormones will decrease production. That means your hormones, and your body, will be out of balance. And that leads to some serious symptoms that affect your health and your quality of life.
How Hormones Function
Hormones regulate key functions throughout your body – and there are several different kinds of hormones. They control your metabolism, growth, fertility, immune function, and much more.
While commonly thought of as a male hormone, actually men and women need adequate levels of testosterone to function at their best. A lack of testosterone can lead to low energy levels, brain fog, low stamina, loss of strength and muscle mass, weight gain, anxiety, and low sex drive.
Estrogen is actually a collection of three hormones: estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Both men and women naturally have estrogen – it’s not just a female hormone. However, it plays a much greater role in the health of women, especially as they age. Estrogen is essential in phases of change such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Levels of estrogen much be very carefully maintained to avoid conditions like estrogen dominance.
For both men and women, progesterone is critical for multiple functions in the body. Low progesterone levels can cause symptoms such as sleep issues, low immune system function, memory loss, weight gain, and mood swings. Low progesterone levels often are a factor when you’re dealing with symptoms of aging. Progesterone is a precursor hormone that concerts to estrogen, testosterone, or cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Nearly every cell in your body has receptors for cortisol – it can affect many different parts of the body, including blood pressure, blood sugar levels, inflammation, and salt-water balance.
Your body releases cortisol when you experience fear or stress – including chronic stress. This can cause serious damage over the long-term to the body. When cortisol builds up in the body, you can experience lowered immunity, higher blood pressure, and weight gain that you just can’t seem to shake.
DHEA is a hormone produced by your adrenal gland. It’s a hormone that actually helps produce other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. That makes it especially important for hormone balance. Your natural levels of DHEA peak in youth and then decline as you age. Low levels of DHEA have been found in people with diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, osteoporosis, and other serious health conditions.
It’s also possible that DHEA can slow the aging process, increase libido and athletic performance, and help you maintain a healthy weight.
There are several other kinds of hormones, like the ones released by your thyroid and growth hormones. As you can see, with so many hormones working together in nearly every part of your body, maintaining a healthy balance of hormones isn’t easy, especially as you age. But hormone imbalance can cause a serious drop not just in the quality of your life, but in many areas of your health as well.
Working with a qualified, experienced medical provider who can run detailed lab tests and measure the levels of your hormones is vital to finding balance and health again after hormone imbalance.
The Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance
Signs that your hormones are out of balance can be subtle or confused with other ailments. They appear differently in each person’s body, because we all react differently to outside stressors and internal hormone shifts.
But there are several common symptoms to look out for that likely indicate a problem with the balance of your hormones.
- Night sweats
- Hot flashes
- Muscle loss
- Heavy or painful periods
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
- Trouble concentrating
- Lowered energy levels
- Low libido or sex drive
Most hormone imbalances begin during middle-age, for both men and women. There’s a natural shift of hormones at this time. For women, the changes due to menopause and peri-menopause can cause many symptoms, such as hot flashes, trouble sleeping, and mood swings. For men, a similar but less-abrupt shift happens as testosterone production decreases. They often experience symptoms such as decreased muscle mass, lowered sex drive, and less energy.
Many of these symptoms pile up over time. You may not notice when you experience a decrease in muscle mass, but when you add sleepless nights and hot flashes to the mix, the problem becomes clear.
If you think you might be suffering from hormonal imbalance, you may have multiple symptoms or just one, and you might experience them intermittently or for an extended period of time. In any case, you should seek medical help from a qualified professional who specializes in hormone imbalance treatments.
The Causes of Hormone Imbalance
There are many potential causes of hormone imbalance. Our bodies are complex organisms – one small shift can set off a chain reaction that is felt in many body functions. This is especially true of hormones, which have so much control over how your mind and body perform.
The most common cause of hormone imbalance is the natural aging process. As both men and women age, hormone levels shift in the body. Men start producing less testosterone, and women stop producing estrogen entirely after menopause is complete. That doesn’t mean everyone who is over age 40 suffers from symptoms of hormone imbalance, as some people don’t see any issues arise. But the majority of people will notice symptoms ranging from mild to severe, and they can benefit from getting a thorough checkup on their hormone levels.
Another common cause of hormone imbalance in our busy modern world is stress. Whether it’s from ongoing chronic stress due to a life going at 100 miles per hour, or due to a single or series of intensely stressful events, stress directs the body to produce cortisol. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and high levels of it have serious effects on the whole body. Stress is an especially common cause of hormone imbalances in women of any age.
There are also several diseases that can contribute to hormone imbalances. This group of diseases includes diabetes, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, thyroiditis, and Cushing syndrome. These diseases typically have a hormone imbalance as the cause, and then further worsen hormone imbalances in the body as they progress. Treating these diseases is necessary to restore health, and it may also help restore normal hormone function. Or additional hormone therapy may be required to get the body back into hormonal balance.
The Benefits of Balanced Hormones
Your body is a finely-tuned machine – fixing the elements that have fallen out of balance offers a number of benefits. Achieving hormone balance can improve your quality of life by giving you more energy, improved sleep, and more stable moods – but it can also have serious benefits for your overall health and reduce your risk of disease.
How is this possible? As an example, stress can do a lot of damage to the body, including raising your cortisol levels. Cortisol elevates blood sugar levels, leading to insulin overproduction and then insulin resistance – a major factor in obesity. Restoring your hormonal balance can suppress your body’s overproduction of cortisol and reduce your risk of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.
Even for the normal age-related shifts in hormone levels, hormone therapy can offer benefits to reduce the frequency and severity of many or most symptoms.
How to Naturally Balance Your Hormones
The good news about hormone imbalance? While it often has natural causes, that doesn’t mean you need to live with the negative impacts or symptoms any longer. Hormone replacement therapy has been around for decades, and is a safe and reliable solution for hormone imbalance.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is increasingly popular for several reasons. It offers a replacement that is chemically identical to the hormones your body produces naturally, and it is derived from natural products like soy or yams. That means your body can use the hormones effectively, while leading to fewer side effects because they act like your own natural hormones. Bioidentical hormones can help reduce or eliminate the symptoms of hormone imbalance, and they have little to no side effects. This improves quality of life while reducing the risk for serious health conditions at the same time.
BHRT is also often most effective when combined with lifestyle changes. Since hormone imbalances are often caused or worsened by things like diet, exercise levels (both too much and too little), weight, and stress levels, a combination of support for a healthy lifestyle plus BHRT can yield significant results for you. That’s why a holistic approach to hormone imbalance, like you’ll find at Nava Center, is the most effective way to find true relief from your symptoms.
Testing and Diagnosing Hormone Imbalance
There’s no one single test that can diagnose a hormone imbalance. Since hormones are so complex and interconnected, you will need a full diagnostic exam and bloodwork to determine your current hormone levels. The first step is making an appointment with a healthcare provider who has extensive experience with hormone imbalances, like the ones at Nava Center.
It’s helpful to note your symptoms clearly and write them down before you come in for your first appointment. These notes will help you tell your doctor what you’re experiencing in your body, how often it’s happening, and what other health issues are going on.
Your doctor will probably ask you questions like:
- What symptoms are you experiencing?
- How often are you experiencing these symptoms?
- Have you gained or lost weight recently?
- Have you been more stressed than usual?
- When was your last period?
- Are you experiencing vaginal dryness or pain during sex?
- Do you have trouble getting or maintaining erections?
Your doctor may order a range of tests based on your answers to get to the root of your symptoms. Hormone imbalances are typically diagnosed with blood tests to determine the levels of estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and other hormones in your body. Getting an accurate view of current hormone levels is key so that your provider can provide the custom treatment that’s right for your body.
The Nava Center Solution to Hormone Imbalance
At Nava, our practitioners are true experts in hormone health. Each provider has a deep understanding of how the systems of the body work together to create balance and harmony, which leads to health. A combination of advanced therapies, like BHRT, and lifestyle strategies for a balanced diet, managing stress, getting exercise, and improving sleep are the combination you need to live your healthiest life. We believe in a truly holistic approach to health – everything works together to create the treatment plan that addresses the core issues keeping you from living your best life.
Our medical staff will begin your treatment plan with appropriate testing to make sure we know what is at the root of the problem, and we’ll follow your blood hormone levels closely throughout your treatment to be sure your safety. Our BHRT therapies include ongoing support during your treatment plan, careful monitoring, and all of our advanced diagnostics at your fingertips.
Do you think you may be suffering from hormone imbalance? There’s only one real way to find out – with complete, accurate testing and diagnostics. Call Nava Center today to get a plan to balance your hormones so you can live life at your 100% again – there’s no need to live with anything less.
Ready to Feel Better Than Ever?
Nava offers virtual appointments nationally, as well as in-person appointments at our 3 flagship locations. You can pick the option that works best for you.