Do you wrestle with increased irritability as you age? Is your sex drive not what it used to be? Is your memory foggier than you remember it? These symptoms could be the result of a hormonal imbalance. If these things describe you, consider scheduling a consultation with our team to see if you are a candidate for therapy with bioidentical hormones.
What is a Hormone?
A discussion of bioidentical hormones begins with identifying hormones. While genes get all the glory for making us who we are, hormones play an equally vital role in creating unique individuals. Hormones are a family of chemicals in the body. Our bodies have tissues that secrete hormones into our blood and other bodily fluids. When the hormones reach cells, the cells interpret the chemicals as instructions. The hormone might instruct the cell to grow faster or to stop growing. It might instruct the cell to communicate hunger to the brain. Other hormones can instruct your body to burn nutrients as fuel. Particular hormones, such as estrogen, have multiple roles. Estrogen affects a woman’s shape, milk production, bone strength, sexual characteristics, and more. Men and women have both estrogen and testosterone. Men actually have the ability to convert testosterone into estrogen for the strengthening of bones.
What are Bioidentical Hormones?
Bioidentical hormones are hormones with the same molecular structure as the hormones naturally created in the human body. While bioidentical hormones are not naturally found in the body, they are synthesized from natural sources. Common bioidentical estrogen hormones include 17 beta-estradiol, estrone, and estriol. Estradiol is the type of estrogen commonly lost during menopause. Bioidentical hormone replacement is an effective treatment because the bioidentical hormones act identically to the hormones your body is losing. The human body does not distinguish bioidentical hormones from the hormones produced by the ovaries.
What is a Hormone Imbalance?
When there is too much or not enough of a hormone in your bloodstream, you suffer from a hormone imbalance. It takes only a small imbalance to result in noticeable symptoms. Symptoms of a hormone imbalance often include a number of direct and indirect difficulties.
Imbalance in Men
As men age, they go through noticeable changes in their body functions. Some men suffer from thinning hair and others notice increased belly fat. Hormone imbalances can happen at any stage of life, but they are exaggerated and more likely as you age. It is also important to note that every element of the aging process is not necessarily a hormone imbalance. A medical professional can test your hormone levels to determine if your hormones are unbalanced. If so, hormone replacement therapy could be for you. The best candidates for this treatment among men are those who:
- Experience mood swings
- Battle anxiety and/or depression
- Lose sex drive
- Notice thinning hair
- Have trouble sleeping
- Gain weight, especially in the belly
- Lose focus easily
- Fatigue quickly
- Lose muscle tone
- Endure night sweats
Imbalance in Women
Women are especially susceptible to hormonal imbalances during and after menopause. The natural decrease in estrogen can result in hot flashes, night sweats, and irritability, among other symptoms. When these symptoms begin to interfere with your life and relationships, it may be time to reach out for a professional consultation. The best candidates for treatments include those women who:
- Suffer undue fatigue
- Experience vaginal dryness
- Have lost sex drive
- Experience hot flashes
- Struggle to sleep soundly
- Gain weight
- Suffer depression
Results of Hormonal Imbalances
Some results of hormone imbalances are the same among men and women, and others are unique to your gender. Some symptoms are frustrating, while others, such as sleep apnea and osteoporosis, can be dangerous.
Lack of Sleep
Hormonal imbalances can affect your sleeping patterns. Progesterone, released from the ovaries, helps you sleep. Imbalances can make it more difficult to fall asleep or maintain uninterrupted sleep. A decrease in estrogen levels can also affect sleeping due to night sweats and hot flashes.
It is not uncommon for women to experience breakouts correlating to their monthly menstrual cycles. Other adults have more consistent acne concerns that are sometimes the result of a hormone imbalance. When individuals have imbalanced levels of androgens, oil production can become excessive. Commonly considered a male hormone, both men and women have androgens, so the imbalance in females can be especially frustrating. Clogged skin pores can lead to acne, and while the androgen continues to engage excess oil production, the acne can be an ongoing issue. High androgen levels in women can also be related to other medical issues, so consulting a doctor is always wise.
Foggy memory happens to us all, but it can be especially common among those with hormonal imbalances. Declining estrogen levels can play a role in memory difficulties, hand-in-hand with other symptoms. For instance, if hormonal imbalances are causing you to sleep less than your body needs, memory difficulties can also flow as a natural consequence of sleep deprivation.
Low estrogen levels can lead to food cravings in women. The temporary relief of the craving through foods high in fat, sugar, and processed ingredients can lead to weight gain and later feelings of depression. Leptin is a hormone that combats hunger, and our leptin levels are affected when estrogen is lacking. Not feeling full, combined with unhealthy cravings, can lead to a cycle of short-term relief and long-term weight gain.
Estrogen levels often correlate with headaches. While there are many triggers that bring on headaches, declining estrogen is often one cause. For some, headaches are debilitating symptoms that can hinder our work and relationships.
Low estrogen levels commonly lead to vaginal dryness. The wall of the vagina can become thinner, and sex is often painful. Not only is this difficult on the self-esteem of many women, but it can also affect their relationships with spouses who do not understand the cause for a perceived lack of intimacy.
Lost Sex Drive
Sometimes, sex is avoided by women who suffer hormonal imbalances because it is painful. Other times, imbalances cause a noticeable reduction in sex drive among both men and women. This can be difficult for marriages and relationships. Even though testosterone is associated with men, both men and women produce testosterone, and it bears a direct impact on sex drive. Testosterone can affect sex drive as well as sexual satisfaction. However, unwanted effects of testosterone, especially in women, require the careful oversight of a trained medical professional.
When imbalanced hormones result in sleeping difficulties, fatigue can be a natural consequence of a body with too little rest. On the other hand, imbalances such as too much progesterone can cause your body to tire regardless of sleep. Good sleep is always important to the human body, and a hormonal imbalance that affects it in any way should be addressed.
Sleep apnea is a greater danger for women during and after menopause. Those who suffer from sleep apnea may stop breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a result of throat muscles relaxing as the body sleeps and preventing air from passing as you rest. Lower estrogen levels correlate to the rate of OSA cases. Aside from a lack of sleep and fatigue, OSA presents particular dangers that should be addressed with the help of a medical professional.
Estrogen is an important ingredient in healthy bones. When women suffer from low estrogen levels, especially after menopause, bone loss and bone weakness can become a concern. Up to half of all women over 50 suffer injuries due to osteoporosis, and over 20% of men experience fractures. Regaining estrogen balance can help patients retain bone health. Concerns over thinning bones should be discussed with a doctor.
Hormone levels have a direct effect on our mood and irritability. As such, the symptoms are commonly associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Estrogen levels affect dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine neurotransmitters. While these symptoms can be a natural effect of the menstrual cycle, they can be even more severe when ongoing imbalances are at play.
What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment that helps relieve symptoms related to hormonal imbalances. From vaginal dryness to bone loss to sexual dysfunction, HRT helps combat symptoms related to diminished levels of hormones through medications containing female hormones to replace those the female body no longer makes. HRT is most effective when tailored to a patient’s unique needs and routinely re-evaluated for safety and effectiveness. The premier method of HRT is pellet therapy.
What is Pellet Therapy?
The most effective HRT therapy is accomplished with pellets. Pellets are placed under the skin for a fast and safe method of replacement hormone delivery. Unlike other delivery methods, pellet therapy ensures users receive a consistent dosage throughout the day. While creams or other methods that can easily result in inconsistent amounts being applied, pellet therapy is highly advanced for safety and efficiency while offering comfort and overall health benefits. The small, consistent doses of hormones released into the body by pellets provide optimum therapy.
Some patients using oral or cream therapies experience fluctuating hormone levels that result in varying energy levels and wide mood swings. Pellet therapy, on the other hand, uses compound hormones compliant with strict federal guidelines to create a pellet smaller than one grain of rice. The pellet is easily implanted through an in-office visit, and the difficulties of other therapy methods are avoided.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy for You?
The symptoms and dangers of a hormonal imbalance vary from one individual to another. Reach out to the medical team at Herrera Medical Group to discuss your symptoms and confirm your hormone levels. If you think bioidentical hormones may be the right thing for you, contact us today and book your appointment at our office in Lewisville. We look forward to hearing from you!