hormonal balance

Do you have or have you experienced in the past six months:

  • A feeling you are constantly racing from one task to the next?
  • Feeling wired yet tired?
  • Difficulty falling asleep or disrupted sleep?
  • A feeling of anxiety or nervousness?
  • Memory lapses or feeling distracted?
  • Sugar cravings?
  • Increased abdominal circumference, greater than 35 inches (the dreaded muffin top)?
  • Skin conditions such as eczema or thin skin?
  • Bone loss (osteopenia or osteoporosis)?
  • High blood pressure or rapid heartbeat?
  • High blood sugar (prediabetes or insulin resistance)?
  • Indigestion, ulcers, or GERD?
  • Unexplained pink or purple stretch marks on your belly or back?
  • Irregular menstrual cycles?
  • Decreased fertility?

(courtesy of the  The Hormone Cure by Dr. Sarah Gottfried)

These are just a few of the questions to identify any undiagnosed hormonal problems we all may face. One of the most common myths about hormones is that we don’t need to worry about them until we are in menopause. Many hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone can shift beginning in our twenties.

A brief overview of the top 3 hormones in women and their job descriptions- estrogen, thyroid and cortisol. These 3 hormones affect yor brain, body, stress and weight:

  1. Estrogen: consists of a group of sex hormones that give women the “I want to jump my husband’s bones feeling.” It also builds the uterine lining during pregnancy.
  2. Thyroid: controls metabolism, energy, weight and manages our internal temperature so we stay warm. The thyroid can be referred to as our metabolic thermostat. It also controls our body’s sensitivity to estrogen and cortisol. This is the master regulator.
  3. Cortisol: controls our reactions during stressful situations. It can suppress the immune system, act as an anti-inflammatory agent and regulate blood sugar levels.

In addition, we have progesterone that counterbalances estrogen and controls our emotions, sleep and regulates the uterine lining.

What does this all mean you may ask?? Well, we want to try and keep the 3 top hormones in balance. This is how they work:

courtesy of drlenlopez.com

courtesy of drlenlopez.com

 

As you can see from the diagram cholesterol is the mother of most hormones.  The adrenal glands which sit on top of the kidneys convert cholesterol into progesterone and DHEA which are then further converted.

It is very easy for these hormones to become unbalanced. Here are some common scenarios for hormone imbalances:

  • High cortisol levels– you may feel tired but wired. High levels of cortisol cause your body to store fuel (glucose) as fat.
  • Low cortisol– this can be the result of long-term levels of high cortisol and you feel exhausted- running on an empty tank.
  • Low prenenolone– trouble finding things??? Low levels are linked to attention deficit, anxiety, brain fog, chronic depression.
  • High estrogen– You may develop fibroids, endometriosis and develop breast tenderness.
  • Low estrogen– Your mood and libido disappear and makes your vagina less moist, joints less flexible and mental focus can be decreased.
  • High androgens (testosterone)- You may develop rogue hairs on chin and elsewhere, acne and a top reason for infertility
  • Low thyroid– You may experience decreased mental acuity, fatigue, weight gain and constipation, depression and loss of hair.

Everything is interrelated… So if you experience high levels of stress (ie. a sickness, heavy work load, juggling kids schedules etc..) your cortisol levels increase and if they remain high for long periods of time, that can block cells from getting progesterone. Progesterone is the hormone required to calm you down and improve your sleep.

This blog just scratches the surface of the hormones and their affects on our bodies but it is a start in opening up the dialogue for what we all may be too afraid to confront. The most important thing you can do if you feel your hormones are out of whack is to empower and educate yourself. You are not alone in this and being proactive is the only way to get answers.

Feel free to comment with questions and concerns. Let’s open up the dialogue about these crazy hormones that can affect our daily life!!