Hormonal Imbalances & Sexual Health
Why are hormones important?
Hormones are specialized molecules secreted by glands and delivered to specific areas of the body to manage cell and tissue functions. The most well-known of these hormones are testosterone and estrogen; the “male” and “female” hormones. Both estrogen and testosterone are needed in both sexes but in different amounts and have a large number of effects throughout the body. Thyroid hormones are also essential for cellular metabolic processes throughout the body. Hormonal imbalances can negatively impact your everyday life, intimate life and your long-term health. Hormone replacement therapy has been used to cope with aging for decades, but new advances have improved the safety and effectiveness to optimize hormone function. It can help women who have always suffered from unbalanced hormones feel like they want to again or for the first time.
Perimenopause and menopause, whether occurring because of age, surgery or medically induced, are the most common cause of low estrogen. However birth control, recent childbirth and many other medical conditions can also cause low estrogen effects. Low estrogen can impact women of all ages and reproductive statuses.
Low estrogen can cause:
- Lack of sexual desire
- Painful intercourse
- Sleep issues
- Mental “fog”
- Weight gain
Low Thyroid Hormones
Low thyroid hormones or hypothyroidism is not uncommon, affecting more than 10% of women. That means there’s a one in 10 chance you will experience hypothyroidism, so it’s essential to monitor those hormones and pay attention to symptoms.
Low thyroid hormone symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Sore muscles and joints
- Dry and brittle hair and nails
- Other health issues
Leaving any hormone deficiency untreated in either sex can have a long-term health impact on the brain, muscle, bone, heart and metabolism.
Testosterone is important for women as well as men. Low testosterone levels in women is linked to physical problems such as muscle atrophy, joint pain and osteoporosis and mental symptoms such as increased anxiety, irritability, sleep disturbances, anger, sadness and depression. This is also the main hormone that controls libido even in women.
Other hormone issues in play
Women can also experience hormone-related issues as a result of altered progesterone, abnormally high estrogen levels or excess testosterone. These types of imbalance sometimes happen with certain medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), PMS, medication induced and menstrual irregularities.
Diagnosing Hormonal Imbalances
To determine if you have a hormonal imbalance and how it is impacting your health, your doctor will assess your overall health and give you the specialized IWI questionnaire that asks you a series of questions about your intimacy, sleep habits, moods, weight gain or loss and other indicators that can help identify a hormonal imbalance issue. They may perform blood tests to assess your levels of estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, FSH and LH (follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone). The test can also include a thyroid test and a general blood screen. If your results are high, low, or fall in the extreme ends of normal it’s time to look at a customized program that can bring your hormones and your life back into balance.