Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormones have to work together like a symphony, and when one hormone is out of harmony, the whole system is affected. In the body, there are sex hormones and hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands that support other functions. The sex hormones include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. While testosterone is usually thought of as being primarily a male hormone, women have testosterone present in smaller amounts. Other important hormones are necessary for metabolic functions and stress management, and these hormones include cortisol, DHEA, and melatonin. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is able to supplement deficient hormones and replenish the quality of life.
Estrogen is one of the primary female sex hormones, and it has three different forms in the body, which all maintain different functions. The three main estrogens are estrone, estradiol, and estriol.
Estrone is mainly produced after menopause, and it is considered to be a reserve source of estrogen. Estrone is derived from estradiol, the ovaries, liver, fat cells, and adrenal glands, and if amounts are too high, the body may produce extra breast and uterine tissue. For this reason, some researches agree that excess amounts can lead to endometriosis, fibroids, and breast or uterine cancer.
Estriol is a form of estrogen that protects against breast cancer, and it also benefits the vaginal wall and the urinary tract. When Estriol is deficient, a woman may have an increased risk for breast or uterine cancer, increased urinary tract infections, and vaginal dryness.
Estradiol is the strongest form of estrogen, and the body relies on it for several functions. An estradiol deficiency is usually the culprit for many menopause related symptoms. When it is deficient, women may experience symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, mood swings, osteoporosis, frequent yeast infections, and vaginal dryness.
Progesterone is a sex hormone that takes part in pregnancy, menstruation, and the formation of embryos. Before menopause, progesterone is made in the ovaries, and after menopause, it is made by the adrenal glands. Progesterone deficiencies can be caused by aging, high amounts of sugar or saturated fat, insufficient thyroid hormone, and anti-depressant medications. Progesterone is responsible for many functions in the body, and when it is deficient, several activities can become impaired. Some symptoms of progesterone imbalances may include increased anxiety or irritability, weaker bones, bladder dysfunction, insomnia, poor moods, frequent miscarriages, bloating, and insulin resistance.
Testosterone, in women, is made mainly by the adrenal glands, but the ovaries also supply small amounts of testosterone. Testosterone controls a number of activities in the human body, and deficiencies can lead to a number of health issues. Testosterone deficiencies can be caused by adrenal fatigue, childbirth, chemotherapy, depression, endometriosis, and psychological trauma. When testosterone levels are too low, women may experience low libido, muscle atrophy, increased flabbiness and body fat, low motivation, and weaker bones.
Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and it helps to manage the effects of stress on the body. Cortisol is one of the few hormones that increase with age, and when cortisol is elevated for extended periods of time, it can have ill effects on the body. Stress increases cortisol levels and eats away at vitamin C, potassium, B vitamins, zinc, carbohydrates, and magnesium. Another consequence of increased cortisol levels is that it puts the adrenal glands in constant distress and can cause them to convert sex hormones into cortisol, and if sex hormones are already deficient, it can exacerbate symptoms related to the deficiencies. Symptoms of excess cortisol can include weight gain, low immunity, low blood sugar, depression, anger, prolonged infections, poor athletic performance, and no motivation.
DHEA is responsible for the production of estrogen and testosterone. It is a sex hormone that is produced mainly by the adrenal glands and partly by the skin and the brain. During a woman’s 20’s, DHEA is abundant, and during the late 20’s to early 30’s, it begins to decline. By the age of 70, the body only makes one quarter of the amount of DHEA it produced in it’s 20’s. Because women are more sensitive to the effects of DHEA, it is important that levels are balanced. Some of the symptoms of DHEA deficiencies can include increased allergies, higher cholesterol, decreased muscle mass, higher triglyceride levels, insulin resistance, higher risk of blood clots, and irregular blood sugar.
Melatonin deficiencies are mostly due to aging, medications, alcohol, and caffeine. Menopause and perimenopause are the times when most women experience melatonin deficiencies. However, melatonin deficiencies mostly affect the functioning of testosterone and growth hormone, and imbalances in melatonin can also affect the sex hormones because they are involved in the body’s cycles and functions. Melatonin is an important part of hormonal harmony, and indications of melatonin insufficiencies may be symptoms of insomnia, cancer, lowered immunity, accelerated aging, increased cortisol levels, and poor moods.