Causes of Hormonal Imbalance
Some people are genetically predisposed to hormonal imbalances, however lifestyle also plays a significant role in determining body physiology. Many of the activities associated with healthy living, such as regular exercise, a nutritionally balanced diet, and consistent sleep patterns, can help stave off hormonal imbalances. Living a sedentary lifestyle and eating excessively large or unhealthy meals can induce hormonal imbalance. Likewise, working too hard, not eating well, and not getting enough rest can also lead to unhealthy, unbalanced body chemistry.
Women that take birth control pills may inadvertently induce undesirable hormonal imbalances, as they force their bodies to follow an externally prescribed hormone cycle rather than letting the body dictate its own naturally. Pregnancy can also induce several different types of hormonal imbalances, including hyperthyroidism and gestational diabetes.
Advancing age, in and of itself, is also a common cause of hormonal imbalances in both men and women. Many of the unpleasant symptoms associated with menopause are due to hormonal imbalances as ovary function comes to its natural end. (Please also see our article on Testosterone for more information on andropause, the parallel phenomenon experienced by men.) Clearly, any time a gland in the body no longer functions, the consequences will be a hormonal imbalance, as there is no longer a source for its hormones.
Conventional Treatment for Hormonal Imbalance
Depending on the combination of symptoms exhibited, doctors can begin to deduce what type of hormone imbalance the patient may have. In some cases, genetic testing may be warranted. In most cases, the imbalance can be verified by testing hormone levels in the blood, saliva, or urine depending on the hormone, usually by immunoassay (as described in Symptoms). Hormone imbalances are typically treated through synthetic hormones or drugs designed to mimic other parts of hormone pathways and curb symptoms.
Diabetes, caused by insufficient release or recognition of the pancreatic hormone insulin, is generally managed through careful administration of synthetic insulin to rebalance blood chemistry and facilitate proper metabolism. Synthetic human insulins have been available since the late 1970's, and in recent years, a variety of different insulin mixes (different concentrations, to act at different rates in the body) have become available. Diabetics are also educated to ensure that they also eat wisely and exercise to help manage their blood sugar to prevent more serious complications.
Conventional thyroid hormone replacement therapy typically involves introduction of a synthetic version of the principal thyroid hormone thyroxine. The body recognizes and processes the synthetic thyroxine, allowing it to support proper metabolism, brain function, and the other regulatory functions in place of natural thyroxine.
Patients with adrenal hormone imbalances may also be treated via hormone replacement, supplementing cortisol and fludrocortisone acetate. Cortisol is a natural hormone derived from cholesterol that is critical for maintaining blood pressure and blood sugar, and also plays roles in stress response and immunity. Fludrocortisone acetate is a mineralocortecoid replacement that will help regulate sodium and potassium to maintain electrolyte balance.
Similar hormone replacement therapies are prescribed for menopausal women experiencing the symptoms of hormonal imbalances. A wide variety of estrogen and progestin containing products were marketed to encourage women to undergo hormone replacement therapy, including pills, vaginal and skin creams, and skin patches. The intent was to help ward off some of the major risks that accompany menopause, including cancer, bone loss, and heart disease. In 2002, however, clinical studies revealed that hormone replacement therapy itself posed a significant health risk to women by increasing the chances of heart attacks and strokes. These studies continue to be evaluated.
Our Hormonal Imbalance Treatment
Conventional hormone treatments are performed with synthetic hormones that have nearly identical structures to natural hormones. These manufactured hormones cannot be exactly the same as their natural counterparts, however, because drug companies cannot patent biological molecules; slight differences must be introduced so that patents can be applied for and the company can profit from them. Bio-identical hormones, however, are manufactured hormones that are structurally identical to the natural hormones. This ensures that the body will metabolize the supplement safely, reducing the risks of unwanted side effects. Patients Medical offers a variety of bio-identical hormones to offer a more natural solution to hormonal imbalance.
For thyroid imbalances, we prescribe Compounded Thyroid (BIO-Identical), which can help alleviate the associated fatigue, headaches, dry skin, and weight gain. This therapy can also help combat the low body temperature and lowered immunity often experienced by those with lowered thyroid hormone levels. This natural thyroid hormone supplement will also help reduce the depression and mood swings caused by this hormonal imbalance.
We treat adrenal hormone imbalances with Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA, Bio-Identical), a natural hormone that enhances cell generation through stimulus of protein synthesis. DHEA is prescribed in a micronized form for sustained release, allowing complete absorption. As a natural antioxidant, DHEA can help repair and prevent cell damage, improve immunity, and slow the natural aging process. DHEA can also help increase energy, enhance memory, and boost both the physical and psychological aspects of sex.
For hormonal imbalances in women, we offer Bio-Identical Progesterone and Estrogen. Progesterone is normally secreted by the ovaries in balance with estrogen and its synthetic version often has undesirable physical and emotional side effects, including bloating, breast tenderness, bleeding, swelling, depression, and irritability. Women experience fewer of these side effects with Bio-Identical Progesterone, and at the same time, gain the benefit of more balanced hormones. Healthy levels of progesterone may help protect against osteoporosis, uterine and breast cancer, ovarian cysts, and fibrocystic disease. Natural progesterone also curbs fatigue, bloating, weight gain, depression, mood swings and other symptoms associated with PMS.
There are three naturally occurring estrogen compounds produced in the ovaries, including estradiol (10-20%), estrone (5-20%), and estriol (60-80%). Bio-Identical Estrogen is composed of either two (Bi-Est) or three (Tri-Est) estrogens. Bi-Est is comprised of estradiol, the most physiologically active of the three estrogens, and estriol. Tri-Est offers a bio-identical combination of the three natural estrogens in a formula women's bodies recognize. A cream containing 0.6-1.5% estriol may also be prescribed to treat facial hair if Hirsutism is a symptom. Supplementing Bio-Identical Estrogens can help prevent osteoporosis, strokes, and Alzheimer's disease. Properly balanced estrogen can also curb atrophy of both the urinary and vaginal tracts and alleviate vaginal dryness. Bio-Identical Estrogen therapy can ease the common symptoms of menopause, as well, including depression, mood swings, memory loss, decreased sex drive, and insomnia.
The ovaries also produce small amounts of testosterone, which influences the libido and may also enhance estrogen function. We can prescribe Bio-Identical Testosterone to further relieve menopause symptoms, as well as improve energy, boost sex drive, and enhance the sense of well-being. Bio-Identical Testosterone can also prevent osteoporosis, strengthen bone, and potentially prevent wrinkles as it increases the elastin and collagen in the skin.
We also offer Bio-Identical Pregnenolone, which is a precursor to many hormones, including estrogen and progesterone. Given its involvement in neuron generation, it appears to also play a role in mental function, enhancing memory, concentration, and well-being. A micronized form is prescribed for sustained release to ensure hormone purity and complete absorption of the dose. Bio-Identical Pregnenolone can improve cell repair, increase memory and learning, protect brain cells from injury. Supplementing with Bio-Identical Pregnenolone may also soothe PMS symptoms, improve immunity, and has been shown helping in therapies for inflammatory disorders.
Start Your Road to Health with Patients Medical
Be informed, inspired and transformed with your own personal holistic consultation at Patients Medical. For those that can make the journey, we are happy to welcome new patients to our medical center in New York City. Call us at 212-794-8800. We are here to listen and help.
We are located at: Patients Medical PC, 800 Second Avenue, Suite 900 (Between 42nd & 43rd Street), Manhattan, New York, NY 10017.