Among the most common struggles of women in Lafayette is balancing their hormones. Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers that travel in the bloodstream to our organs and tissues and affect many different processes including mood, metabolism, sexual function, and reproduction.
Though scientists have identified as many as 50 hormones, there are four major hormones that affect the female body. They are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol. Progesterone helps the body break down estrogen metabolites; it opposes estrogen.
When your hormones are in balance, everything from digestion to immunity works properly. You feel great, look great, have the energy of a teenager, and your sex drive is normal. This is your body performing at its best. Hormonal imbalance is created when the ratio of estrogen to progesterone sways too much one way or another. Estrogen and progesterone work in synchronization with each other as checks and balances to achieve hormonal harmony in both sexes. Estrogen and progesterone need the presence of each other in order to perform their individual functions
It’s a common misconception that the symptoms experienced by menopausal women result from a drop in estrogen production. In fact, they are often caused by a drop in progesterone relative to estrogen. When estrogen is unopposed in the body by a sufficient amount of progesterone, it causes more symptoms as seen in studies where increased estrogen leads to uterine cancer, heavy menses, fibroids, heart disease, stroke, decreased cognitive ability, endometriosis and infertility.
From age 35 through age 50, there is a 35% drop in estrogen, but a 75% reduction in progesterone occurring simultaneously. This is normal, and does create many premenopausal symptoms that we accept as part of the aging process.
Unfortunately, xenoestrogens are everywhere and our cells can’t always distinguish between our own estrogen and compounds that look like estrogen. We are constantly exposed to xenoestrogens (from chemicals) and phytoestrogens (from food and plants) that confuse our bodies. Examples include livestock, poultry, fish, plastics, and pesticides. Overexposure to estrogen like compounds, coupled with the effects of stress and lifestyle can cause the balance of estrogen and progesterone to become completely out of whack!
Often the most helpful treatment for perimenopausal women is natural progesterone. It can spur new bone growth, convert fat into energy, metabolize glucose as well as serve many other functions. Progesterone is also unique in that it can be converted to other hormones that the body needs.
Of course, the only way to know where you are in terms of balancing your hormones and reducing your risk of long term complications is to see a doctor for hormone testing. To learn more about our functional medicine approach, click here.
If you’d like to visit Nouriche for a hormone and functional medicine evaluation, visit our become a patient page or call the medical office at 266-9985.