Usually when people think about their health they think about numbers. Weight, body fat percentage, number of servings of veggies, and cholesterol are all numbers that can be tracked and used to help us predict your health over time. As Doctor’s that focus on hormones, our Naturopaths in Burlington are watching other numbers too. Numbers you’ve likely never had assessed or interpreted properly.
Both men and women’s sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and others) fluctuate daily, monthly and yearly in response to stress, your environment, diet and weight. These numbers have a profound impact on how you feel, and can actually be changed with the right health plan. Read on to find out signs of hormone deficiency or excess, and enter your email to download our hormone checklist. Take the list to your doctor, or bring it to us for an in depth discussion about how your hormones are impacting your health.
Estrogen fluctuates throughout the month to prepare both the uterus and the breasts every month for possible pregnancy. Estrogen grows tissue, grows uterine lining, softens the skin and nourishes the vaginal canal. Estrogen is detoxified through the liver and bowels, and is highly influenced by diet, weight, beneficial bacterial flora, fiber and stress. Your estrogen should be assessed relative to progesterone and where you are in your cycle. Ideally testing should be done midway between ovulation and menses (approximately day 21).
Signs of Excess: heavy periods, water retention, mood swings, cramps, fibroids and weight issues.
Signs of Deficiency: hot flashes, very light or skipped periods, vaginal dryness, pain during intercourse.
Estrogen does play a healthy role in men, however much of a man’s available testosterone is subject to being ‘aromatized’ into estrogen, leaving more men in excess than deficiency. Extra weight carrying and stress both increase the conversion of testosterone into estrogen in males.
Signs of Excess: difficult to lose fatty areas, male breast development, low libido and energy (mostly due to loss of testosterone)
Progesterone peaks midway between ovulation and menses, (approximately day 21) and is responsible for the maturation of your uterine lining prior to shedding. Progesterone has varying side-benefits, including promoting relaxation and combatting anxiety and promoting better sleep. Progesterone also counterbalances the effects of estrogen, so when depleted, estrogen symptoms may appear.
Signs of Deficiency: spotting or shortened cycles, hot flashes, anxiety and mood challenges around your period.
Excessive levels of progesterone are mostly seen with supplementation of hormone replacement therapy.
Testosterone & DHT (Dihydroxytestosterone)
Testosterone is responsible for vitality, libido and energy in women, but when produced inappropriately (as in high amounts of DHT) can produce male pattern hair loss, acne and mood challenges around PMS time. Testosterone can be made into estrogen in both men and women, which can leave patients deficient in one hormone and excess in the other.
Signs of Excess Testosterone and DHT: Acne, male pattern hair loss, cyclical mood changes, unwanted hair growth (face, chest, back)
Signs of Deficient Testosterone: low libido, depression, osteoporosis, low quality of life.
Testosterone is the main androgen in males responsible for muscle development, bone health and levels are also correlated with length of life and reduced risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease. DHT in men can be problematic, causing hair loss and enlarged prostate. A complete testosterone panel looks at free and total testosterone, as well as DHT. Many medications can lower testosterone levels in men, and should be included as part of your health history to determine the causes of hormone deficiency.
Signs of Excess DHT: Male pattern hair loss, enlarged prostate, acne, mood challenges.
Signs of Deficiency: Inability to lose weight, low libido, low energy and vitality
There are other vital hormones that should be assessed by your Naturopathic Doctor including Insulin (blood sugar, and fat storage hormone), cortisol (stress hormone that interferes with sleep) and thyroid (metabolism control). Download our checklist of symptoms and hormones to find out where you should focus, and ask your doctor to help you get started.