Hormones 101

What is a hormone exactly? 

How do I know if I have a hormone imbalance?

And if I do, what can I do about it anyway?

These are common questions that Candace and I hear as we work with women everyday.  Sometimes we forget how many of us don’t know the basics about our own bodies so don’t feel embarrassed if you are among those who don’t. I rely on my car mechanic to sort through the ins and outs of my vehicle when IT is out of balance. But I always feel a little sheepish because I don’t even know the right questions to ask. In many ways, I think women feel the same way about their bodies when they begin to show signs of imbalance. So here is a brief overview to answer these questions and help you understand when it is time to do something about how you feel.
A hormone is a chemical that is produced in a gland(such as the ovary or the thyroid) which is released and has far-reaching effects on other parts of the body. These hormones have many functions, including regulating metabolism, fertility, fluid balance, mood, blood sugar regulation, to name a few. Hormones act on organs, tissues and cells throughout the body and are essential for optimal functioning.
Hormones work best when they work together and are balanced with one another.

Think of a symphony which consists of various musical instrument sections  coordinated in such a way  that each section comes in at just the right moment, volume and tempo to complement the other sections. When the conductor and the musicians work well together, the music is melodic and lovely. When they don’t, it is difficult  to hear the music at all(it sounds more like a bunch of noise!).
There are days when all of us wake up and we just feel ‘in balance’ and have energy to spare. Then there are those days that we know our balance is definitely off; everything seems off-kilter. This brings me to some of the symptoms of hormone imbalance. We have mentioned a few in previous blogposts but here are some you may(or may not ) be aware of: hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, belly fat, irritability , depressed mood, anxiety, foggy thinking, feeling cold, hair loss, hair in new places, weak or peeling nails, insomnia, low libido, menstrual changes, dry skin, vaginal dryness, inability to concentrate, fatigue, memory changes…… I could go on but I think you get the picture.

If any of these sound familiar,  there is a good chance that something has caused your hormones to be out of balance.  Common causes include pregnancy, stressful life events, over scheduled and busy lives(sound like anyone you know???), lack of exercise, poor diet, toxins in our environment, toxic relationships, job stresses, and the simple act of moving into ‘midlife’ .We all have so many demands on us and often don’t have enough time in the day to get it all done, leaving us feeling depleted and ‘not like ourselves’.

Hmmm…got you thinking hopefully, so now what? Stay tuned and we will be posting a ‘checklist of symptoms of hormone imbalance’ in the near future so that you can do an inventory of your individual symptoms.  Once you have those identified, the next step will be to get your hormone levels tested.  Let us know if you would like to   get this done as we are working on putting together an offer for our readers and would like to get an idea of how many people are interested.  Just list your first name and first letter of your last name in the comments section.

As always, give us YOUR suggestions for future blogposts and feel free to ask us questions….there is no such thing as a silly question!

Wishing you balance

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3 Comments

Filed under Hormone Imbalance, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Menopause Symptoms, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

3 responses to “Hormones 101

  1. Hi, I have seen my gyn several times and had several tests done and no one seems to have an answer. I am 46 and I am almost constantly bleeding. For a while it was with terrible pain. They have given me an ultra sound (vaginal) done blood work, and done an MRI and still no clue. Then they gave me the depovera (sp?) shot on Feb. 22. It was a miracle, I stopped bleeding and the pain went away. I was suppossed to come back May 22nd and get my next shot. But on April 10th, I started bleeding again and it hasn’t stopped. There has only been mind cramping this time though. I do not want the shot again because I have gained over ten lbs already and I have had uncontrolable cravings for Chocolates and sweets. I have made another appt for this Friday, but what else can they do? They have acted like they don’t know what else to do. I would appreciate any ideas, or just to let me know that this is common or what I can do about it. Thank you! My name is Carla B. my email in case you want to contact me that way is:
    Carlarenee46@yahoo.com

    • Hi Carla:
      Thanks for your question. You are certainly not alone with this kind of complaint. Many women in their late 30’s and 40’s begin to experience heavy bleeding(menorrhagia) and cramping(dysmenorrhea). It sounds like your doctor was looking for fibroids and/or ovarian cysts to see if these were the cause of your bleeding and pain. From what you have said, these were ruled out and the term that is used to describe the bleeding you are having is dysfunctional uterine bleeding(DUB), which essentially means there is nothing structurally wrong.
      Your provider likely ordered serum(blood tests) to measure your hormones and perhaps an FSH level. The FSH stands for follicle stimulating hormone and this rises with age and as we get closer to menopause, because your ovaries no longer are responding as well in terms of ovulatory function. The closer to ovaries get to ‘failing’, the more your body is sending a signal to the ovaries to ovulate…but this is a normal process of aging. The FSH is just one tool used to assess where you are in the continuum of perimenopause and menopause.
      You mentioned that your tests were “normal”. I hear this everyday in my practice and it is just so frustrating to feel terrible yet be told you are “normal”.
      This is one of the many reasons that I switched to saliva testing over 10 years ago. I find it to be a much better measure of what is happening in a woman’s body(more about that in a future blogpost!!) and it helps to guide my evaluation and treatment plan for each woman individually.
      I personally would recommend not repeating the Depoprovera as although it did stop your bleeding, it has many side effects including significant weight gain and moodiness. Many women have found topical progesterone(available in many health food stores) to be very helpful to control some of their symptoms until they can find a provider who can help them. A great book to read is by an N.P. named Nisha Jackson: The Hormone Survival Guide to Perimenopause. It is available on our website and it gives a complete overview of what hormones do and how to treat them.
      I hope this is helpful. Thanks again for your question!

      • thank you! I am giving one more Doc a try at the womens Center I’ve been going to tomorrow. I am hoping this one will try something new. I will ask about the saliva test

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