Understanding your hormonal health begins with a knowledge of the different hormones in your body. There are a number of key hormones to take into consideration, which work in unison to create a fully balanced hormonal profile. If one or more of these hormones become unbalanced it can lead to a variety of symptoms and conditions, which may then need to be addressed using bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.
Estrogen is responsible for many of your body’s functions, regulating a woman’s journey through puberty, fertility and menopause.
What is Estrogen?
Estrogen is one of the most commonly known and most essential hormones in the human body. There are three types of estrogens, all of which work together with progesterone to support your body’s functions, these are:
- Estrone (E1)
- Estradiol (E2)
- Estriol (E3)
Estrone, estradiol and estriol all work at different strengths in your body, with estradiol being the most potent followed by Estrone and then Estriol. Just as they work at different potencies, they are each also beneficial for different processes in our bodies. For instance, estradiol is responsible for breast development, reproductive health and other female characteristics, while estriol is most beneficial for vaginal health, which makes it the most effective treatment for issues including vaginal dryness and thinning.
Although there are three different hormones it can often be more simple to refer to them simply as estrogen.
What Does It Do?
Estrogens are responsible for many of your body’s functions, regulating a woman’s journey through puberty, fertility and menopause. Receptors are found in numerous tissues within the body, and therefore these hormones are some of the most important in your body, not only helping to reduce the risk of colon cancer and heart disease but helping to control:
- Body temperature
- Muscle maintenance
- Healthy sleep
- Blood flow
- Collagen levels in your skin
- Memory function
- Libido (Sex Drive)
- Bone density
How Estrogen Changes Over Time
Estrogen is incredibly important and as we get older production decreases naturally, eventually leading to menopause, characterized by dramatically low levels of estrogen. However, many women will experience hormonal conditions which are caused or exacerbated by estrogen deficiency or an excess (compared to progesterone) in their system. Symptoms of low estrogen can even include anxiety and low mood, which are also associated with menopause but can happen whenever the body is going through hormone withdrawal.
ESTROGEN AND BHRT:
If your doctor prescribes you bio-identical estrogen in the form of estriol or estradiol it can enhance mood, revive libido, improve memory and relieve hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and urinary incontinence, as well as help to treat the root cause of many hormone conditions such as PCOS, Endometriosis and Infertility.
Progesterone is a hormone produced in women during the second half/luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and also by the placenta during pregnancy.
Progesterone is a hormone produced in women during the second half/luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and also by the placenta during pregnancy. (NB it is produced by the adrenals in pre-pubescent males and females).
What Does Progesterone Do?
Progesterone has a large number of effects on the body including:
- helping to reduce hot flashes during menopause
- improving cholesterol levels
- maintaining the secretory endometrium
- protecting against breast fibrocystic disease
- helping the body use fat for energy
- it is a natural diuretic
- it is a natural antidepressant
- helping with thyroid function
- helping with blood sugar levels
- normalizes zinc and copper levels
- restoring cell oxygen levels
- protecting against endometrial cancer
- restoring libido
- protects against endometrial cancer
- stimulates osteoblast-mediated bone building
- it is necessary for the survival of an embryo and foetus during pregnancy
- improves energy, stamina and endurance
- helps maintain muscle mass
How Progesterone Changes Over Time
One life stage where this hormone is essential is pregnancy, as it prepares the lining of the uterus for implantation of a fertilized egg and then later helps to maintain the embryo during pregnancy. Imbalances or low levels caused by anovulatory cycles are associated with a variety of problems, including:
- post-natal depression
- pre-menstrual tension
Once a woman starts going through menopause, progesterone production slows down prior to a decline in estrogen production and this can cause symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes and even vaginal dryness or discomfort.
Progesterone and Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
Progesterone levels decline faster than estrogen levels during peri-menopause and menopause, resulting in irregular cycles, heavy periods, headaches and mood swings. As a result, progesterone treatment is often preferred over estrogen treatment as the initial therapy for menopausal symptoms.
There is a misconception that women who have had a hysterectomy do not need progesterone. However, it has a complementary effect estrogen, preventing any endometrial proliferation induced by estrogen, and therefore the two hormones should always be prescribed together. Progesterone therapy has been shown to be beneficial for the treatment of PCOS and endometriosis.
DHEA is the most abundant steroid hormone in your body and is produced by the adrenals glands, with the ovaries and testes producing smaller amounts. It is a major precursor to stronger androgens such as testosterone and androstenedione and the female hormone estrogen.
DHEA is the most abundant steroid hormone in your body and is produced by the adrenals glands, with the ovaries and testes producing smaller amounts. It is a major precursor to stronger androgens such as testosterone and androstenedione and the female hormone estrogen. This means that within your body it undergoes a series of chemical reactions to ultimately convert it to testosterone or estrogen as required. It is also an essential hormone for both men and women and is known to increase energy levels, enhance wellbeing and boost your immune system, as well as:
- Helping with weight loss
- Helping to deal with stress
- Reducing joint pain
- Improving memory
- Improving immune function
- Increasing energy levels
- Alleviating symptoms of menopause
- Increasing strength
- Enhancing libido
- Protecting against diabetes
Changes Over Time
DHEA levels rapidly rise from puberty, continuing to rise until early adulthood (25 to 30 years of age). After the age of 30, production begins to decline at a rate of around 2% per year, and this decline often correlated with the signs and symptoms of ageing.
DHEA plays an important role in resistance to disease, with low levels being linked to increased susceptibility to ageing and disease. DHEA deficiency is very often linked with fatigue, lack of motivation, aching joints, loss of muscle tone (atrophy), weight gain and depression.
DHEA AND BHRT
Bio-identical DHEA can be used to manage menopause symptoms, as well as helping with weight loss, depression and generally improving quality of life.
Testosterone is a sex hormone and an anabolic steroid, and although it is typically considered to be a male hormone, it is also essential for healthy hormone balance in women.
Testosterone is a sex hormone and an anabolic steroid, and although it is typically considered to be a male hormone, it is also essential for healthy hormone balance in women. In men, it is produced in the testes and in women by the ovaries, with women having around a tenth of that seen in men. Additionally, it is produced by the adrenal glands of men and women, and by the conversion from other weak androgens.
What Does It Do?
Testosterone has been found to increase self-confidence levels, motivation and energy, as well as generally improving your mood and vitality. It is also essential for:
- Increasing libido
- Increasing bone density
- Boosting muscle mass and strength
- Improving memory
For women, this hormone has many and varied benefits. For instance, during pregnancy, it plays an essential role in the development of the embryo, signalling that a male embryo should develop as a boy. It is also key in the emotional and mental state of both men and women. When children go through puberty, for example, testosterone causes the growth of hair on the body and gives a healthy glow to the skin and hair.
Low levels can have a very dramatic effect on the body, with testosterone deficiency leading to:
- weight change
- aches and pains in the joints
- reduced libido
- muscle loss
- loose skin
In menopausal women, levels decrease which can lead to lowered libido, a decreased sense of well-being and a loss of energy as well as all of the symptoms described above. Low levels are often associated with fluctuations of other hormones in the body, for example, women with low testosterone also often have low levels of DHEA.
It may come as a surprise to many, but men experience a ‘male menopause’, or andropause, which happens as their testosterone levels naturally decline with age. This happens from the age of about 30 and symptoms arise when their levels drop below a certain level, although this level is different for each man.
Testosterone and Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
As the fluctuation in testosterone levels can lead to a number of different symptoms in both men and women, it is important for anyone experiencing symptoms to seek out expert consultation and subsequent testing to ascertain whether or not their symptoms are linked to this hormone. If this is the case, then appropriately supplementing the levels of testosterone in the body can help treat these symptoms. Bio-identical testosterone can be used to increase libido, improve mood and even improve muscle mass.
Even though testosterone USP can come from plants such as wild yams, it is a controlled drug and can be obtained by prescription only in the US.