Female Sex Hormone Imbalances
Female hormone problems fit into three different categories: Women who are still menstruating, women who are peri-menopausal (in other words their cycle is changing and they are getting close to menopause) and post-menopausal women (women who haven’t had period for six months).
Both men and women have the hormones testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.
Hormones are chemical messengers that are transported in blood system, which signal distant organs and cells to control and regulate their function. Many vital functions are dependent on our hormones. The proper timing and levels of hormone release are especially important for women. A cycling female’s hormone physiology is quite different than men in that in men sex hormones are mostly constant and in females the hormones fluctuate according to the typical 28-day cycle Also some hormones are more beneficial to females and others to men. For instance, testosterone is protective to heart for men and not women. Whereas estrogen is proactive to the heart for women but not men. Knowing what levels of sex hormones, you have can be very important.
Your hypothalmus in your brain measures the level of hormones in your blood. If the level is low, it will tell the pituitary gland to secrete either follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or lutenizing hormone (LH) to trigger the release of estrogen and progesterone respectively.
After you have your period, the level of estrogen slowly starts to rise due to the influence of rising FSH. Around the 13th day FSH goes up quickly and causes a spike in estrogen. This in turn stimulates a spike in LH, which causes the levels of progesterone to go up. If the women doesn’t get pregnant, both hormones drop around the 26th to the 28th day and the cycle starts all over again. Alterations in this cycle can cause many symptoms and problems. Also elevations testosterone in females are common and wreak havoc.
Here are some symptoms of sex hormone problems of women who still have periods:
- Alternating menstrual cycle lengths
- Extended menstrual cycle (greater than 32 days)
- Shortened menstrual cycle (less than 24 days)
- Pain and cramping during periods
- Scanty blood flow
- Heavy blood flow
- Breast pain and swelling during menses
- Pelvic pain during menses
- Irritable and depressed during menses
- Facial hair growth
- Hair loss/thinning
The great news is that there is a great test by Diagnos-Techs Labs called the Expanded Female Cycling Hormone Test. This test takes samples of saliva every two days for your complete cycle and measures the levels of all sex hormones including FSH and LH throughout the entire cycle. By identifying where the fault is you can correct the cycle and get back on track. I have helped many women and girls with abnormal cycles and the accompanying symptoms.
A woman who has gone through Menopause is usually defined as not having a period for 6 months or more. At this point the ovaries are no longer producing estrogen or progesterone. This function is switched to adrenal glands and your fat tissue. This why adrenal health is very important prior to going through menopause and after. Knowing the proper levels is important after menopause, because the sex hormones protect the breast, uterus, heart, brain and other organs. So much of the hormone balancing work done after menopause is preventative. However, there still can symptoms of improper sex hormone levels. Here are some symptoms of post-menopausal hormone imbalances:
- Hot flashes
- Mental fogginess
- Disinterest in sex
- Mood swings
- Painful intercourse
- Shrinking breasts
- Facial hair growth
- Increased vaginal pain, dryness, or itching
Diagnos-Techs Labs also has some great tests to measure the post-menopause sex hormone levels. I use this in conjunction with adrenal and cortisol tests using the Fleximatrix panel. Click here to see an example. There are many strategies for correcting female hormone imbalances without hormone replacement. Occasionally some women may need bio-identical hormone supplementation. But usually specific supplementation and dietary changes can correct many imbalances and relieve symptoms. Click here to get started.