There seems to be an almost epidemic of ladies who are suffering from hormonal imbalance. PMS, to Endometriosis, Menopause seem to be plaguing ladies of all ages. These hormonal imbalances can also contribute to some of the female cancers too.
When you get a hormone panel done what are they looking for?
Estradio (E2): there needs to be a correct balance between estrogen and progesterone. It is one of the critical factors for maintaining hormonal health. Estradiol is needed for proper function of progesterone receptors. High estradiol levels may also compete with T3, a thyroid hormone at the T3 responsive gene sites and interfere with the tissue activity of T3 contributing to hypothyroidism. High estradiol levels can also increase Thyroid Binding Globulin levels, which bind up free T3 and T4 hormone, resulting in decreased tissue action of T3. Having low estradiol levels post-menopause may be because of adrenal dysfunction since post-menopausal production of estradiol comes by conversion from the adrenal hormone DHEA.
Progesterone: enhances the sensitivty of estrogen receptors. Even with normal E2 levels progesterone deficiency contributes to, or exacerbates, estrogen deficiency symptoms.
- Estradiol & progesterone, put the two ratio levels together for an index of their balance. IF there is an overload of estradiol, over progesterone, this can explain a whole bunch of symptoms in reproductive age ladies like endometrial hyperplasia, pre-menstrual syndrome, fibrocystic breasts, and uterine fibroids. When estrogen supplements are prescribed without the balancing effects of progesterone, a deficiency in progesterone can result. Some of the symptoms of estronge dominance include:
weight gain in the hips and thighs
fibrocystic & tender breasts
Estrogen dominance can lead to cancers of the uterus and breasts and insulin resistance. Low estradiol levels happening at the onset of menopause can trigger a host of symptoms including:
rapid skin aging and bone loss
It is important to maintain proper levels of estradiol balanced with progesterone at any age for optimal hormonal health
What about “testosterone? Unbalanced testosterone can lead to hormonal disrution whether levels are deficient or excessive. If the testosterone is elevated:
polycystic ovarian syndrome
excessive facial hair
oily skin and hair
These symptoms are usually an indicator that you may be rocking elevated testosterone levels.
Low testosterone can be brought on by excessive stress, certain medications, contraceptives, and surgical removal of ovaries. Some of the symptoms of testosterone deficiency include:
low sex drive
bone loss (osteoporosis)
loss of muscle tone
What is the Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG)? It is a protein produced by the liver when exposed to any type of estrogen. This exposure can include estrogen produces naturally by the body or consumed as a synthetic like oral contraceptive estrogen, estrogen therapy, or as foods , also referred to as xenoestrogens. The Sex Hormone Binding Globulin binds tightly to circulating estradiol and testosterone. This prevents rapid metabolism and clearance and limits their bioavailability to tissues. SHBG gives a good index of the extent of the body’s overall exposure to estrogens.
DHEA sulphate is produced by the adrenal glands and generally reflects the adrenal gland function. DHEA is usually present in larger amounts than all the other steroid hormones as it is the precursor for estrogen and testosterone production. DHEA levels peak in late teens to early 20’s and then naturally decline as we age. Cortisol and DHEA have opposite effects on immune function and insulin regulation. When cortisol levels are increased, more DHEA is required to be released to balance the effects of elevated cortisol. Thus, chronically elevated cortisol levels can result in a lack of DHEA. Low DHEA can bring out a decrease in sex drive and feeling sluggish, where as high DHEA can have a masculinizing effect because it metabolizes into testosterone.
Low DHEA levels can be connected:
Cortisol levels portray overall adrenal function and indicate exposure to stressors. Healthy adrenal cortisol production is highest early in the morning, soon after waking and then falls to lower levels at mid-day and continues to decrease into the evening. Low cortisol levels can indicate adrenal fatigue (meaning your ability to respond to stress is reduced), it can leave the body more vulnerable to poor blood sugar regulation and immune system weakness. Chronically high cortisol is a result of constant exposure to stressors, and can pose a serious long-term effect on the quality of one’s health including:
higher cancer risk
Elevated cortisol levels can also interfere with the action of progesterone and testosterone at gene regulatory sites. Which long story short, can lead to estrogen dominance. Excess cortisol can cause significant bone loss, depression, exhaustion, muscle wasting, brain fog, impaired thyroid function.
When you go for a Female Hormone panel these are the elements they will be checking for. Saliva testing is one of the most accurate as far as I am concerned professionally. Contact me and I can put you in touch with a lab that offers this form of testing, or check with your OBGYN and see if they work with a lab that offers Saliva testing, it will also fall under the label of bioidentical hormone testing.
Realizing these hormones need to be in balance is important. So ladies, reading stuff that are marketed for female hormone disorders and taking “ONE” thing, i.e. hot flashes, means you are not dealing with the issue, just trying to get rid of the hotflashes isn’t going to fix the imbalance, there is a nutritional deficiency going on and you need to address the whole picture not just one sentence on the proverbial page. Rather than feel like you are spitting in the wind, put the whole sequence back into balance.
Hormones are chemical messengers in the body, they have to work together in tandem. If one is trying to over-power the other you will exhibit unpleasant symptoms.
If any of the symptoms I’ve shared describes what you may be dealing with, and if you’d like to approach this from a nutritional/natural perspective, I’d be honored to work with you. You can go to http://www.mkt.com/harvested-health-llc and sign up for a 1 hr. consult which can be done in my office, or via e-mail consultation, or phone consultation. If you are local and want an in office consultation we can also do a QFA Analysis where we work with your (urine & saliva) to paint a clearer picture of what is going on nutritionally to achieve better balance.
Hope this was able to shed some light.
Jodi Barnett N.D. (Doctor of Naturopathy)
QFA Clinician, Orthomolecular Nutritionist
Harvested Health LLC
http://www.harvestedhealth.mynsp.com (high quality whole food herbs/supplements)