As you age, your appearance is not the only thing that changes. Insomnia, anxiety, mood swings, and hot flashes become more frequent over time. If you have felt “off” lately and wake up feeling tired, depressed, or edgy, the reason may be something you haven’t considered – a hormonal imbalance or a loss of your essential hormones altogether.
Hormones play a very important role in regulating you physiologically and emotionally. They can have a tremendous impact on your quality of life. It’s normal for your hormone levels to shift at different times, but some people are more sensitive to these ups and downs than others. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) optimizes your hormone levels to provide vitality, energy and a better quality of life.
Bio-identical hormones are the exact same hormones made naturally by the body, including testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, DHEA, and melatonin. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy increases the amount of these hormones in your system to healthier levels. They can be delivered in a range of applications, most commonly dissolvable oral tablets, pills, and creams.
Your hormones are responsible for regulating just about every function in your body. When your hormone levels are depleted, it can drastically impact the way you think, feel, and function. Specifically, here’s a brief look at why each hormone is so important:
Testosterone is generally considered a male hormone, but it is important for women, as well. A low testosterone level in women can affect the libido and muscle strength. Too much testosterone may cause irregular periods, body hair, high blood pressure, infertility and weight gain. Low testosterone levels in men are linked to obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Estrogen is one of several hormones that women possess in abundance; however, men need it, too. Low estrogen levels in women can cause hot flashes, trouble sleeping, low sexual desire, mood swings, osteoporosis and dry skin. In men, low estrogen can cause excess belly fat and a decrease in sex drive. High levels of estrogen in women can result in weight gain, uterine fibroids, loss of sex drive, and feelings of depression or anxiety. Men with too much estrogen may suffer from infertility.
Women with low levels of progesterone have abnormal menstrual cycles and may have trouble conceiving. Women who do conceive are at a higher risk for miscarriage or pre-term delivery. What’s more, low progesterone levels can cause estrogen levels to skyrocket, which can decrease sex drive, result in loss of sleep, contribute to weight gain, or cause gallbladder problems.
Hormones produced by your thyroid gland affect your metabolism. Women and men who do not have enough thyroid hormone may feel tired or cold, experience constipation, and inexplicable weight gain. An overactive thyroid gland can leave you feeling nervous or irritable and unable to concentrate, or result in trouble with sleeping and unwanted weight loss.
DHEA is a hormone produced by your adrenal glands and your brain. It leads to the production of testosterone and estrogen. Most people’s DHEA levels begin to decline after age 30. Pharmaceutical-grade DHEA supplements have been shown to help with obesity, depression, adrenal insufficiency, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease and lupus. DHEA has also been linked to treating sexual dysfunction in men and women and improving symptoms associated with osteoporosis.
In a healthy individual, the hormone melatonin is produced in a rhythmic cycle: more at night, and less during the day. The bloodstream carries it to different parts of the body, where receptors pick up the “sleep” signal. Overall melatonin levels decrease throughout life, and low levels can make it difficult to sleep. Supplementing with melatonin can help you get a better night’s rest.
While hormone replacement therapy can be life changing for some adults, it needs to be monitored and followed throughout life. The first step is to consult with an educated physician about whether you have a hormonal imbalance, or if your symptoms could be due to another underlying condition.
When you meet with Dr. Robert Shumway, be sure to disclose your entire medical history and describe any symptoms you are currently experiencing. He will order the correct laboratory studies and provide you with professional guidance regarding the benefits and risks of Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) and recommend an appropriate treatment protocol that is right for you.