A hormone imbalance can be uncomfortable and problematic. And what you experience in the form of weight gain and fatigue is only the beginning; once hormone levels dramatically decline, you may be at risk for serious health conditions like stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. At Pellecome in Randolph, NJ, a vision for greater balance in men and women has led to the development of timed-release BHRT pellet implants.
What Is Hormone Imbalance?
Maybe you’ve heard the term “chemical messengers” before. If so, you’re already familiar with hormones. If not, let us explain further; hormones are produced by the endocrine system and give directives to various parts of the body. They’re secreted directly into the blood so they can be transported to the organ or tissue where they’re needed.
An imbalance develops when a hormone exists in excessively high or low quantities within the blood. Even a minute change in a hormone can trigger a slew of symptoms in the body. Too much estrogen in women, for instance, can lead to headaches, insomnia, and heavy, painful periods.
Why Balance Matters
When hormones are balanced, you function at a higher overall level – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Not only do hormones fight viruses and harmful bacteria, but they also promote a greater sense of well-being and help you look more youthful.
Reasons for Imbalance in Women
Hormone imbalance can occur at almost anytime and is especially common during puberty, menstruation, and pregnancy. External factors like stress and the foods we eat can also upset the body’s delicate equilibrium. And, of course, age is a key culprit in declining levels.
Entering the Transitional Phase: Perimenopause
Perimenopause begins with irregular menstrual cycles and ends one year after your last menstrual period. This stage is the result of declining ovarian function; to be more precise, waning levels of estrogen.
In peak reproductive years, the ovaries release estrogen in relatively predictable patterns throughout the menstrual cycle. But as ovary function diminishes, levels fluctuate and become unpredictable. This has a direct impact on a woman’s sexual health, draining her energy and likewise taking away her desire for intimacy. Many women use lubricants to improve intercourse, but this only provides a temporary and insufficient solution.
Menstruation also becomes more erratic thanks to intermittent declines in progesterone. Testosterone, which contributes to a healthy libido and may additionally help maintain muscle mass and strong bones, similarly drops. This is why many women in middle age experience more frequent sprains, strains, joint pain, and broken bones.
The effects of perimenopause, however, are not experienced in the same way by all females. The one common thread is this: as hormone levels drop, women are at greater risk for developing serious conditions like obesity and heart disease. Equally important, hormone imbalance is responsible for the many cases of depression diagnosed in perimenopausal women.
And Now On to Menopause
Throughout perimenopause, estrogen can abruptly rise and fall without notice. In the final one or two years of this stage, estrogen declines dramatically so that menstruation may be skipped for several months and then reappear. When a woman goes 12 consecutive months without a period, she is said to be in menopause.
Usually, the most widely-discussed aspect of menopause is a woman’s lack of fertility. She can no longer get pregnant and, subsequently, must no longer manage her menstrual cycles. But with drastically low levels of estrogen and progesterone, the body is now at even greater risk for serious health concerns – including stroke.
Stroke and Other Health Concerns
As estrogen declines, cholesterol is free to accumulate on artery walls and block blood flow. This explains why a woman’s chances for stroke double every decade after age 55. The same is true of cardiovascular events; prior to age 55, estrogen helps balance good and bad cholesterol and also keeps blood vessels open. Without this protective hormone, however, heart disease becomes a very real possibility.
Lead poisoning is yet another concern. Throughout a person’s lifetime, she is exposed to lead that gets stored in the bones. But bones become more fragile and break down much more readily with menopause, increasing lead levels in the blood. This can contribute to high blood pressure, kidney malfunction, and symptoms that impede memory and cognitive skills. Additional health concerns that accompany menopause include:
- Urinary incontinence
- Dry mouth
- Greater risk for cavities
Life After Menopause
It’s enticing to think that postmenopause, your health will stabilize and your body will return to normal. Unfortunately, your risks for more serious health concerns only continue to amplify with factors like weaker bones and rising cholesterol levels.
Many women also struggle with weight gain between the ages of 45 and 55. While postmenopause may not be directly responsible, the fatigue and loss of energy that come with hormone imbalance may be. These factors contribute to a sedentary lifestyle that, in turn, paves the way to extra pounds and subsequent diabetes and heart-related problems.
Shedding Light on Men and Andropause
Andropause is similar in nature to menopause with two key differences: it affects men and does not equate to infertility. Instead, it refers to a middle-aged decline of such male hormones as testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone. This decline is associated with physical and psychological changes, including:
- Weight gain
- Mood changes
Lower testosterone levels can be detected in healthy, asymptomatic men as early as age 30; at this point, the hormone begins to decrease by an average of 1% per year. This means that by age 50, testosterone levels have already dropped by 20%. Although this decline isn’t as dramatic as that posed by menopause, andropause creates real changes within the body and therefore poses real health concerns.
Effects of Low Testosterone
One of those concerns manifests in difficulty getting and maintaining an erection. A man’s libido (sexual desire) also diminishes as testosterone drops. The end result is less sex, which can negatively impact personal relationships and take a toll on a man’s self-confidence.
Low T doesn’t only affect your sex drive, however. It leads to low energy and can likewise reduce muscle mass. It’s also associated with serious health risks, including:
- Cardiovascular disease
Treatment Can Restore Balance
Hormone imbalance is more than a collection of symptoms; it’s a sign your body isn’t getting what it needs to properly function. The good news is treatment is available to restore a greater level of health. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) provides your body with the exact hormone combination it needs using plant-based hormones.
On a molecular level, these hormones are identical to those created by the body and can therefore be used to safely and effectively address the symptoms of menopause and andropause. And treatment is simple; three or four times a year, your provider will insert the appropriate pellet dosage so it directly enters your bloodstream. Each session takes around 15 minutes, and treatment is tailored to meet your specific needs.
There is no “right” age to begin BHRT because hormone imbalance can affect men and women as young as their 30s. We therefore recommend that if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed here, you schedule a consultation to speak with your provider. He or she can run the necessary tests to determine if your hormone levels are inordinately high or low and then proceed with a treatment plan.
While BHRT is very safe, it may not be the right option for everyone. Women with a history of breast cancer or stroke or patients with blood clots may need to explore alternative therapies. But, again, the best step is to schedule a consultation with your provider.
Feel Like You Again
A hormone imbalance can leave you feeling like someone else, not yourself. Symptoms range in type and severity for both men and women, and equally important, imbalances are associated with serious health risks. But you can improve your quality of life and once again thrive with the rapid results provided by BHRT.