Hormonal Balance

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What Exactly are Hormones & What Do They Do for Your Body?

Hormones are your body’s messengers that travel in the blood to communicate and regulate how the different parts of your body function. Hormones are produced in the brain (Pituitary gland) and in the endocrine organs throughout your body such as the thyroid gland or the adrenal glands. Hormones are released in response to mental, emotional, and physical signals. There are over 200 hormones that have different roles in your body. When these are balanced, your bodily processes work how they should. You feel great, and your body can do its job correctly. However, when one or more of these hormones are out of balance, it can disturb the delicate equilibrium that keeps us healthy - hormone imbalances can result in numerous symptoms like chronic fatigue, infertility, skin issues, weight gain, insomnia, mood swings, etc. This guide will focus on the most common hormonal imbalances in women. This way we can narrow down the information that’s most vital and relatable to you. 


7 Most Common Hormones That Affect Women's Health

  1. Cortisol
  2. Estrogen
  3. Progesterone
  4. Testosterone
  5. Insulin
  6. Thyroid
  7. DHEA


Cortisol is a steroid hormone that plays an important role in our body - most notably, cortisol affects our immune system, metabolism (including sugar or carbohydrate and fat metabolism), as well as our stress response and overall resilience. As a result, when cortisol levels are not well regulated, you can experience more anxiety, fatigue, mood and memory changes, increased infections, autoimmune reactions, weight changes (especially central weight gain around your waist), and poor blood sugar control. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone”. When you feel stressed out, your adrenal gland is busy producing Cortisol. This is especially true in the case of prolonged stress. Elevated levels of cortisol over a long period of time can lead to decreased sex drive and, in women, irregular periods, and in some cases less frequent or absent periods. High cortisol can have a suppressive effect on other hormones, particularly the luteinizing hormone responsible for regulating our sex hormones and reproductive health, as well as the thyroid hormone which regulates our metabolism - both of these hormones are essential in fertility, pregnancy, and birth. Poor diet, inconsistent meals, and lack of sleep can significantly affect your cortisol levels as well. Most importantly, higher cortisol levels are linked to increased symptoms of aging and frailty such as weight loss, decreased muscle mass, fatigue, memory changes, and osteoporosis. On the contrary, lower (normal) diurnal cortisol levels are associated with increased longevity and improved quality of life. No wonder meditation, yoga, mindfulness, healthy sleep patterns, and a healthy diet keep us young and vibrant!! 


Estrogen is an important sex hormone - it is a steroid hormone that is made from cholesterol and helps mature, develop, and regulate the female reproductive system. Estrogen has numerous other functions - for example, it maintains bone mass, helps with cognition and memory, and affects our mood. Low levels of estrogen can result in lighter periods, vaginal dryness, low libido, hot flashes and/or night sweats, poor memory, mood changes, mood swings, decreased bone mass, and fatigue. High levels of estrogen (Estrogen dominance) can result in mood changes, including depression and irritability, acne, infertility, increased risk of breast disease including fibrocystic breasts, painful breasts, and cancer, increased endometrial cancer risk, decreased sex drive, and weight gain. Elevated estrogen levels also interfere with thyroid function. In some cases, estrogen dominance is not the result of elevated estrogen but rather due to decreased progesterone - progesterone and estrogen have an important relationship where progesterone can act to oppose estrogen and decrease its negative effects. In these cases, correcting progesterone levels can help keep estrogen in check, reducing the risk of developing symptoms of estrogen dominance - which can help reduce those symptoms stated above. 

Progesterone (aka "zen" hormone)

Progesterone calms us down and keeps us sane before our period- so we don’t become an emotional mess that the rest of the house buckles down for! This hormone also helps us sleep and rest. Low progesterone can cause heavy periods, feeling nervous and losing control, spotting before periods, and that lower belly pooch that we all detest! If you are known to go a “bit crazy” during your cycle, you might want to get your progesterone levels checked because there’s a high chance that it’s declining. This is also an important hormone to get your body ready for babies. Low progesterone is one of the most common causes of infertility and can also increase the risk of miscarriages.


This hormone isn’t just for men and for libido! If you have low levels of testosterone, you may experience a low desire for sex, as well as low muscle tone and bone density. You may also get tired super easy when you workout, and you may have a hard time experiencing orgasms. Low testosterone has also been found to cause more wrinkles and “aging” in the face. Too much testosterone can cause irritability, masculine characteristics, painful sex, oily skin and/or acne and fertility issues. PCOS is a common condition that results in elevated testosterone and can affect fertility and overall hormonal health. 


Insulin is an important hormone that is produced in the pancreas. Its primary role is to help regulate blood glucose (sugar) levels by signaling cells to take up glucose to use as a source of energy. Without insulin, cells in our body can not get enough glucose to use as a fuel source and sugar circulates in the blood, contributing to increased blood sugar and in some cases, this can progress to become diabetes. Low insulin can promote cellulite formation, sweet cravings, increased appetite, and infertility.


            Having a thyroid imbalance can cause cold hands and feet, hair loss, weight gain, constipation, puffy face in the morning, dry skin or brittle nails, and make you feel more tired at rest than when you’re active. This can also cause infertility or irregular periods. DR. DEMERI'S HORMONE SURVIVAL GUIDE Many women experience low thyroid levels during pregnancy. Since pregnancy can easily and commonly alter your thyroid levels (even if your thyroid levels are usually normal), it’s critical that you get your levels checked as soon as you find out you are pregnant. If not addressed, low thyroid levels can increase your risk of premature birth, preeclampsia, miscarriage, postpartum hemorrhage, and anemia. Your thyroid hormone is usually never the hormone to be going out of whack first. Other factors are most likely to cause the thyroid to become imbalanced. For this reason, I try to treat the other health issues first to see if your thyroid levels restore themselves. Stress, infections, toxins, Fluoride, medications, or immune disease can have a significant impact on your thyroid. Helps your Muscles and Tissues Aids in Detoxifying Toxins Plays a Role in Memory and Learning Affects Sleep Impacts Immune Regulation Aids in Thyroid, Pancreas and Ovarian Function Influences Body Composition/ Weight-fat Distribution 


This is the most important to test because it: Low DHEA can lead to dry hair, noise intolerance, handling stress poorly, weak muscles, and absent hair under both your arms and pubic areas. DHEA is converted to testosterone. So if your DHEA is low, the chances of your testosterone levels being low are also very high. Also, your testosterone levels then get converted to estrogen, so your DHEA levels can have an effect on many of your other hormones.

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