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mount prospect hormonal imbalance treatment
Female Hormones: Natural vs. Synthetic
In an effort to communicate this issue in simple terms, let’s discuss the two hormones that can make a woman feel either quite wonderful or locked in a state of ongoing misery. They are Estrogen and Progesterone and they exist in opposition to each other to provide balance or homeostasis. Hormones have a tremendous influence on how we function and an imbalance or insufficiency can promote complaints most women suffer from on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, most women in my experience are totally in the dark when it comes to their own hormones and therefore have no idea what their options are. This article should provide some insight.
There are three different Estrogens and they are all made in your ovaries if working correctly. Estradiol accounts for 80%, Estriol at 10% and Estrone at 10%. They all do different things but let’s focus on Estradiol because it’s the major player. This hormone is responsible for stimulating your breasts, uterine lining, fertility, weight gain and just about everything else that makes you female. Most women I find suffer from an excess of estrogen and that’s predicated on a world loaded with artificial, man-made chemicals called Xenoestrogens that mimic the effects of estrogen. Then there are plant based estrogens like Soy. Estrogen also exists in our food supply adding even more exposure. Depending on your age and current levels, too much of this hormone is actually worse than not enough and remains a leading cause of breast cancer in this country.
Progesterone is also made in the ovaries and serves to balance the effects of too much estrogen. Unfortunately, as we age, our hormone production decreases and this is true with progesterone leaving women deficient and imbalanced (i.e. Estrogen Dominance). Unfortunately more teenagers than ever suffer from the same complaints because they too are lacking in hormonal balance. Most women are familiar with the term “PMS” or premenstrual syndrome and yet remain clueless why this happens. Fatigue, weight gain, swelling, heavy bleeding, depression, anxiety, breast tenderness, fibroid tumors, can ALL be attributed to too much estrogen and not enough progesterone. It is that simple.
Now that you have some understanding for these two hormones, let’s discuss how we best test and treat this condition. It is my preference to utilize salivary testing in my practice for many reasons. It’s less painful than getting a blood test, less expensive to measure many hormones that can be pricy and it’s more accurate when I treat the patient with natural plant based or “bio identical” hormones vs. synthetic hormone therapy. I do prefer testing the thyroid hormones like TSH, T3 and T4 Free via blood analysis because it has been proven to be more accurate. No matter what critics might say, salivary testing is gaining credibility, more convenient and is covered by insurance plans as well. The patient is given a kit and collection is done on day 21 of her cycle as that is the peak of progesterone production. So if it is low on that part of your cycle (also called the Mid luteal phase) then there is an obvious deficiency. All three estrogens are tested as well looking for excess levels. In addition, four cortisol samples are taken (8am 12pm 4pm and midnight) to see how your body is dealing with stress. If your cortisol is low then your progesterone will be low. This can happen from teenage years to menopause predicated for the most part on the incredible levels of stress we face these days. For all those women that can’t seem to get pregnant or are prone to miscarriage, look to your cortisol levels before you spend a small fortune doing it artificially.
Treatment for all that I mentioned so far will be directly related to your test results as well as your complaints. But realize this, it’s not as simple as if you are low on progesterone, we just give you the hormone and you live happily ever after. The entire sex hormone cascade begins with cholesterol. That is converted into a mother hormone called “pregnenalone”. That is then converted to progesterone. If your body/mind is under too much stress, it will “steal” pregnenalone and convert it to manufacture cortisol (your primary stress hormone) just to survive. Anyone can order a test, then put you on a drug and tell you it’s the only game in town. Think again as there are now many alternatives to taking medication for everything you complain of.