Hormones are chemical messengers secreted by various glands in the body that affect a wide variety of body functions. The hormones in the human body don’t work in isolation, but they respond to and interact with one another. Hormonal imbalance occurs when a gland secretes too much or too little hormone. For example, too little thyroid hormone can cause weight gain, fatigue, and dry skin, while type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops producing the hormone insulin.
Symptoms depend on just which hormones are the problem. One of the more common signs of hormonal imbalance in women occurs during perimenopause, the transitional stage of full menopause. As estrogen declines, the balance between estrogen and progesterone shifts, causing hot flashes, sleep disturbances, and other symptoms like fatigue or vaginal dryness. Weight gain, night sweats, changes in sexual desire and mood may also occur.
Menopause is one of the normal causes of hormonal imbalance, but other hormonal imbalances may occur for a variety of reasons. Low cortisol levels may result from excessive stress and adrenal fatigue. Type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents is thought to result from a viral infection. Sleep problems, poor diet, too much or too little exercise, and environmental toxins can all affect hormone production and hormone balance.
Hormone testing is the first step, as it helps determine exactly what the imbalances are. Hormone therapy with bioidentical hormones is an excellent choice for the hormone balance problems that occur with menopause. Unlike other hormones, which are made from substances like pregnant mares’ urine or chemical compounds, bioidentical hormones are derived from plant materials, in particular, yams and soy. They include 17 beta-estradiol, estrone, estriol, and progesterone. In addition, lifestyle changes like better nutrition, sleep, exercise and stress management can also promote hormone balance in the whole body.
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