Hormonal changes throughout a woman’s life can impact them differently in various phases, from adolescence into their golden years.
But women, especially in their peri-menopausal years, mustn’t be blamed for ignoring the symptoms of hormone imbalance. Perimenopause actually begins in a woman’s 30s, albeit often slowly. In her 40s she might notice more pronounced changes to body composition and symptoms surrounding her cycle. A lengthier flow or a missed period or increasing frequency of headaches.
These can be extremely confusing times, even for medical doctors, since symptoms often wax and wane. A few really good weeks are followed by a very difficult menstrual cycle that also happened to correspond with something like, say, allergy season or other kind of stressor.
Symptoms creeping up so slowly that it’s difficult to discern if a change has actually occurred at all. Their effects can also be felt on a physical, emotional and mental level, making them widespread.
Hormones play such a key role in the body, yet they do their work silently. Until something goes awry, we may not even know they’re there, keeping our sleep/wake cycles regular, maintaining our energy levels and driving a healthy libido.
Thus, it’s really helpful to know what the key symptoms are so you can spot a problem during its early stages; a few simple tweaks in the early phases makes life a lot easier later on.
Here are the thirteen signs of imbalance to keep an eye out for.
When your progesterone levels drop, your sleep may be affected. Look out for trouble getting, and staying, asleep.
2. Chronic Fatigue
Everyone gets tired sometimes, but feeling tired often and being unable to recover from your daily activities may point to a problem with your hormones. If your progesterone levels are too high, you may feel like sleeping more, but tiredness can also be a sign of a thyroid problem.
3. Memory Problems
Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels can make it harder to think clearly and remember things. Your thyroid hormone levels may be to blame here but be sure to talk to your doctor about any memory problems you’re having so they can check thoroughly for the cause.
4. Stubborn Acne
Persistent acne can have a hormonal component. It may signal that there are too many androgens circulating in your bloodstream, causing your oil glands to produce too much oil, which then clogs your pores.
Headaches that appear during the same time of the month may suggest your estrogen levels are dropping during that time.
6. Stomach Problems
If your hormones are fluctuating, it can cause stomach pain, bloating, queasiness or even diarrhea and constipation.
7. Irregular Periods
If you’ve been skipping periods or they are starting and finishing at different times each month, it can indicate that your estrogen or progesterone levels are not where they should be naturally.
8. Breast Changes
Breasts that feel denser and thicker than normal may suggest higher estrogen levels, just as less dense-feeling breasts may indicate the opposite.
9. Hot Flashes And Night Sweats
Hot flashes and night sweats are caused by low estrogen levels and may appear during the period before menopause, otherwise known as perimenopause.
Sweating can also be caused by hyper- and hypothyroidism.
10. Increased Appetite
When estrogen levels are low, the hormone that controls appetite—leptin—can go awry. Cravings for salty and sweet foods and feelings of intense hunger when your body doesn’t really need to eat may also be caused by imbalances in the adrenals, thyroid, and pancreas.
11. Depression & Mood Swings
Sudden changes in your estrogen levels can also affect the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin, scrambling your moods and leaving you feeling down.
12. Vaginal Dryness
As estrogen levels drop, it can prevent your vagina from lubricating effectively. It’s normal for this to happen from time to time, but if this problem reoccurs often, it may be a good idea to get your doctor to examine you and check your hormone levels.
13. Low Libido
When testosterone levels diminish, it can drastically affect how interested in sex you are.
Clinical Pearls in Functional Endocrinology
Even though many of us are aware hormone imbalances can contribute to many health issues, it’s still difficult to know where to start.
The logical next step is to have hormone levels checked and get them balanced. Sounds easy, but is it?
Many people have gone to doctors and naturopaths who have attempted to normalize their hormone levels, only to find it is a game of whack-a-mole at best.
Here are six pearls of clinical wisdom to help guide us down the challenging path towards optimal hormonal balance.
Pearl No. 1 – Hormone Delivery
Typically, effective hormone supplementation, especially progesterone and testosterone, are delivered either topically (creams) or sublingually (oil or alcohol based liquid solutions placed under the tongue). One potential drawback of creams—particularly for menopausal women—is that chronic use of hormone creams can lead to tissue saturation, thereby rendering them ineffective.
Pearl No. 2 – Repeat Testing
It is all too common to hear of doctors prescribing hormone creams or capsules and failing to run repeat tests soon enough, if ever, to monitor the effectiveness of a particular course of treatment. Regular follow-ups are essential because testing will show whether the regimen is balancing hormones in the right direction. Clinical success depends on monitoring the results and taking action every 8 to 12 weeks in the beginning.
Pearl No. 3 – Testing Methods
Many doctors will run blood tests to measure reproductive hormone levels; however, this is not necessarily the best approach. A better approach is salivary hormone testing that measures the free fractionated forms of each hormone so that it is possible to tell what amount of hormones is not just in the bloodstream, but actually available to cells and used.
Pearl No. 4 – Root Cause Investigation
What is “functional endocrinology”? While everyone agrees it is important to achieve hormonal balance in order to feel well, only a functional endocrinologist will inquire about the root cause of any imbalances present.
Supplementing hormones is by trial and through follow-up, with a comprehensive look at everything going on. There is a reason why a hormone imbalance is present in the first place, and we want to understand what it is.
Culprits include compromised adrenal function, blood sugar regulation, hormone receptor saturation, inflammation and brain-body communication. Administering hormones without addressing these root cause issues won’t work.
Pearl No. 5 – Supplement Overload
There are articles and advertisements all over the media touting the health benefits of new supplements and the latest products. However, consumers are mostly in the dark regarding what supplementation their body needs. Add to this a problem with product authenticity, harmful fillers, and potency. It is imperative to have a doctor prescribe high-quality, all-natural, pre-screened products on a regimen tailored to an individual’s needs.
Pearl No. 6 – Hormone Clearance
An often overlooked but potent aspect to hormone balance is bile synthesis and clearance of excess saturation from the body. The liver must be supported to aid the body in pushing out excess hormones. Sometimes it is not only adding in hormones, but often pushing excess hormones out can be key.
For those who have tried balancing their hormones and found it to be an impossible task, the chances are that something significant is being overlooked. From hormone delivery methods to testing procedures and supplemental nutritional support, all aspects of hormone adjustments can be tweaked for maximum success.
There are many natural solutions to hormone balance—-some better than others. If you are a woman in her 30’s and 40’s feeling exhausted and unsure about a cascade of symptoms, then you could benefit from testing your hormones and bringing the systems of your body back into harmony.
About Dr. Doug Pucci
Dr. Doug Pucci, D.C. is a licensed, board-certified healthcare professional and wellness practitioner. He is founder and clinic director of the Pucci Wellness Center , a private clinical facility located in the Township of Oradell , Bergen County , New Jersey .
He specializes in the treatment of “new millennium” diseases, which are defined as chronic, degenerative diseases like Heart Disease, Resistance to Weight Loss, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Anxiety and Depression, and Diabetes. The increasing numbers of people afflicted with these “neuro-mediated” toxic illnesses are alarming, and for anyone suffering, the sense of desperation can be horribly debilitating.
Dr. Doug Pucci is an honest, caring doctor who has treated hundreds of patients. In his twenty five years in practice, he has seen a dangerous rise in the numbers of patients burdened by toxic illness. He has developed a protocol to test and safely remove toxic build-up in the cells, including heavy metals. He is a health partner and mentor who can be trusted to guide you through the required dietary and lifestyle changes, the right nutritional and laboratory support, and will prepare a complete, easy to follow program that works.
“I am honored to be one of a very few doctors in the country trained in new clinical diagnostics and techniques, a comprehensive wellness approach using neuroscientific testing, specialty labs, cellular detoxification, and micronutrient protocols that gets results and transform lives.”
I have a program for helping patients beat their hormonal imbalances by getting to the root causes so that they can feel good again. If you have 3 or more of the symptoms of hormonal imbalance, I’d like for you to have the opportunity to get the help you need. Before you take hormone supplements or medications, you should know for sure if you have hormonal imbalances or not! And also whether you have an auto immune condition (i.e. Hashimoto’s) that is interfering with your energy levels! Please get started by signing up for my strategy call. And when you’re ready, we will send you a complete Welcome Packet and all the information you need to make an informed decision about your care.