Our hormones control most of the responses and functions of our bodies. Female hormones are crucial to a balanced life and determine our sleep patterns, affect our sexual function, and are involved in weight gain, mood, and more. If you’re not feeling like yourself, the issue could be a hormonal imbalance. The good news is that you don’t have to just accept the issues that imbalanced hormones can cause. At Balanced Bodies Anti-Aging Clinic, female hormone replacement therapy can make a huge difference.
Signs You May Need Female Hormone Replacement Therapy
It’s perfectly natural for female hormones to fluctuate throughout life. We’re all familiar with the intense fluctuations that happen during puberty, and we also experience fluctuations around our monthly menstrual cycle and during and after pregnancy. But the fluctuations that happen as we reach middle age and beyond can be truly life-altering.
As we reach this age, the production of our hormones starts to decline. While this is natural, it’s not pleasant. Many women experience weight gain, feelings of exhaustion, moodiness, insomnia, and other problems that they tend to blame on just “getting older.” While that’s technically true (our hormones do decline as we get older), it’s not something we just have to accept. The issue is a hormonal imbalance, and that can be corrected with female hormone replacement therapy.
The Hormones That Matter
For women, the primary hormone that affects us is estrogen, but that’s not the only one we have to deal with. Progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, and DHEA are all involved. As we age, there is over or under-production of one or more of these hormones, and the issue is always imbalance.
We determine which hormones need to be adjusted based partly on testing and partly on your symptoms. The reason testing alone is not sufficient is that each of us is unique. “Normal” levels of any hormone are unique to you. Testing gives us a baseline and a place to start, but it’s also very important to consider your symptoms.
The Symptoms to Look for: Emotional and Mental
Loss of Libido
Our sex drive naturally goes up and down over time, and it can be affected by relationship issues, family or work stress, and more. But if you’re seeing a prolonged and substantial drop in your interest in sex, it could be due to changes in your hormones.
Proper sexual function in a woman depends on both estrogen and testosterone. You need both, and in the right balance, to keep up sexual desire. If your relationship is suffering because you’re experiencing a drop in libido, female hormone replacement therapy may be able to help.
The “moody menopausal woman” may be a stereotype, but it does have some basis in reality. The unfortunate truth is that while both men and women go through hormone shifts in middle age, those shifts have different effects, and women are much more likely to experience mood swings than men. The primary culprits here are estrogen and progesterone.
Both of these impact our serotonin–the “happy” hormone. As they rise and fall, our serotonin levels fluctuate, too. Serotonin is crucial in regulating mood, so when levels drop, and especially when that drop is sudden, we can experience what seems like an instantaneous shift from happy (or at least calm and normal) into:
The great news is that this isn’t your fault. It’s not a character flaw. It’s not because you’re “going crazy.” There’s a perfectly natural physiological explanation, and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help.
Insomnia and Fatigue
Another issue that fluctuating serotonin levels can create is disturbed sleep patterns. When our serotonin levels are regular and even, we tend to sleep normally (assuming no outside factors disturb us). When levels drop, however, we experience insomnia.
It’s possible to suffer from insomnia and not even be fully aware of how much it’s affecting you. You may not be getting enough deep, restorative sleep, but yet feel like you’re sleeping through the night when you’re really dozing in and out the whole time.
Insomnia leads to fatigue, which just makes things worse. You feel stressed because you feel tired all the time, and this causes more hormone issues. HRT can help to balance your hormones and allow you to get restorative sleep for a better mood and improved physical and mental state.
It’s very common for us to experience a drop in our ability to concentrate as we get older. It might be tempting to blame this on the weather, lack of sleep, the use of devices, etc, and while all those things can have a place, the biggest issue is often something you can address: hormone imbalance.
In a woman, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all keep our brains functioning in a healthy way by:
- Facilitating communication among brain cells
- Improving blood flow
- Protecting the brain from damaging free radicals
When your hormones are out of balance, the result can be “brain fog,” or an inability to concentrate. This can also result in a loss of interest in activities that you used to enjoy. You feel stressed all the time, yet unable to concentrate, and high progesterone levels can keep you feeling “on” all the time.
The Symptoms to Look for: Physical
Joints and Muscles
Estrogen is key in fighting inflammation. When estrogen levels decrease, joint pain is often the result. Any joint can be affected, though the knees and ankles are often the most common problems joints because of the way we rely on them.
It’s also possible to experience muscle aches, and this can be accompanied by difficulty in keeping on muscle. As your muscle mass drops, there is less muscle to support your joints and ligaments, creating more issues.
It’s not something we really want to talk about, but well over 4 million people in American deal with serious constipation; and the majority of these sufferers are women. What is “serious constipation?” It’s any time constipation becomes so bad that it interferes with life in some way.
If constipation is making it difficult for you to work, go out, or take care of your responsibilities, there’s a good chance this is due to estrogen dominance. This happens when progesterone levels drop, thus making estrogen too prevalent in your body. High estrogen levels interfere with the body’s ability to empty the intestines, resulting in constipation, bloating, and pain.
One of the most dreaded symptoms of aging is the “middle-age spread.” It seems that the same diet that was working just fine for you two years ago is suddenly causing you to gain weight.
It’s frustrating: you’re eating in the same way and doing the same activities, but you keep putting on the pounds. Once you put them on, they become harder and harder to get off. Both estrogen and testosterone can be to blame here, as they both play a role in the way your body deals with fat and retains muscle.
Loss of estrogen particularly encourages a woman’s body to put on weight around the hips, thighs, and stomach. Meanwhile, testosterone imbalance can lead to loss of muscle and more body fat. Female hormone replacement therapy can’t overcome a bad diet and lack of exercise, but even the best diet and lots of exercise will not be enough unless you’re able to stabilize your hormone levels.
If you’re wondering why you’re experiencing acne flare-ups decades after puberty, it could be for the same reason you saw them in your youth: hormone fluctuations.
If you lack estrogen, this can lead to an increase in sebum in the skin. This is a natural skin oil that keeps the skin nicely lubricated; however, when you have too much of it, your pores get clogged. This can cause you to see anything from just a few pimples to severe acne. It all depends on how your skin responds.
Around 80 percent of women will suffer a hormonal imbalance at some point. While most of us associate hormone imbalance with menopause–and for good reason–it’s also possible to experience an imbalance as early as your 20s.
Whatever your age, if you’re experiencing irregular periods or hot flashes, don’t ignore them. The younger you are, the more crucial it is to have these symptoms checked out, but no one has to undergo them when HRT is readily available.
Other symptoms to watch out for include:
- Unexplained hair loss
- Cold hands and feet
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal dryness
- Night sweats
Explaining Hormone Replacement Therapy
At Balanced Bodies Anti-Aging Clinic, we use bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). This balances your hormones uses naturally-derived hormone replacements, and BHRT is safer than previous treatments with synthetic hormones. BHRT’s plant-derived hormones are a match for your body’s natural hormones on the molecular level.
With BHRT, you can expect to feel better and function in the ways that are normal for you. While some of the effects will be almost immediate, some will take a little time to fully develop.
What to Expect
You’ll first come to see us for a consultation. We’ll discuss your symptoms and test your hormones to get a baseline reading. Based on your symptoms and the lab results, we will craft a customized treatment plan to get you where you need to be: with restored hormones at balanced levels.
This may include bioidentical estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid, or DHEA, or a combination of several of these. We may also recommend some nutritional supplements. You’ll start to feel more confident very quickly, and within two weeks you should be sleeping better, having less joint pain, and feeling more in control of your moods.
Over the next few weeks, sex will become more enjoyable and many of the physical symptoms of hormone deficiency will clear up. At the 10-12 week mark, you’ll come back to see us and we’ll make any needed adjustments after seeing how you’re responding and what new lab tests reveal.
Return to Balanced Living
If you’re experiencing the symptoms of hormone imbalance, don’t just put up with it. Contact us today at Balanced Bodies Anti-Aging Clinic and let us get started helping you.