Dr. Andrew Petersen of Holtorf Medical Group is a leading expert in hormonal dysfunction, thyroid disorders, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He talked about hormones and what they do for our body.
The endocrine system is made up of glands which produce and send hormones to all areas of the body to regulate essential functions such as temperature, reproduction, growth, immunity and aging. Our bodies produce a wide variety of hormones throughout our lives. Hormones, which are chemicals produced by the glands, must be produced in adequate, and balanced amounts in order for the body to maintain proper health and normal functioning. It stands to reason that this is the hub of vitality, longevity and well-being.
The importance of treating hormonal imbalances and the symptoms associated with them is extremely important - even life changing for some. Multiple pregnancies, aging and xeno estrogens can cause our hormones to become more and more stressed and even depleted, the risk of chronic conditions, as you mentioned earlier, such as heart disease, and, yes, even breast cancer becomes even greater. So it's extremely important for women to listen to their body and address any symptoms early on.
Dr. Petersen says the main hormones that we need to ensure are functioning properly and being accurately tested are:
A full 90 percent of standard blood tests that a typical doctor orders do not detect low thyroid levels. Low thyroid levels can cause fatigue, depression and difficulty losing weight. Low thyroid also increases the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Some studies estimate that low thyroid levels may go undiagnosed in as much as 17% of the population. In women, this can be the root cause of menstrual irregularities, fatigue, depression, weight gain and even possibly infertility. Studies show that many depressed and even bipolar patients have undiagnosed thyroid dysfunction as the underlying cause or major contributor to their depression. Holtorf Medical Group understands how to treat the underlying cause and many of our patients can eventually be free of anti-depressants by addressing low thyroid levels.
Adrenal exhaustion is often the cause of serious fatigue. When you think about the adrenal glands, you should think about stress. Stress can take many forms both physical and mental.
Each adrenal gland produces different hormones - DHEA & Pregnenolone. These hormones are part of the 'fight or flight' response. They work together to give the body the sudden burst of energy that's needed in times of emergency.
Estrogen is the main sex hormone that differentiates women from men. It regulates the menstrual cycle and is responsible for the development of secondary sex characteristics, including breasts, smoother skin and less facial hair than men. As perimenopause begins, estrogen levels begin to fluctuate…sometimes high and sometimes low. This see-saw is often what creates the symptoms associated with menopause like mood swings, hot flashes and vaginal dryness.
Progesterone is primarily a female hormone although men do have small amounts. Besides its' importance in regulation of the menstrual cycle and pregnancy, progesterone plays an important role in thyroid function and energy production, maintaining sex drive, sleep, mood and blood clotting. During perimenopause, progesterone levels may begin to decline even earlier than estrogen levels resulting in PMS, anxiety, breast tenderness, headaches, sleeplessness, weight gain and loss of interest in sex.
Testosterone is most commonly thought of as a male hormone, but it plays an important role in women's' health too. In women, testosterone is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. A woman's testosterone is highest around age 20 and slowly declines till it is half as high in her 40's. Testosterone in women promotes strong, healthy bones, muscle strength and endurance. It also contributes to a woman's overall sense of well-being and energy level.
Depending on the level of hormonal imbalance, symptoms will vary and could fluctuate throughout your cycle becoming more severe and frequent. As your hormones become more depleted, symptoms for some can even become life altering. Many women will suffer from some if not all of the following symptoms:
- Diminished sense of well-being;
- Increased anxiety;
- Fatigue or you feel core-tired no matter how much sleep you get;
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight;
- Depression or poor sense of well-being;
- Dry skin and hair and even thinning hair;
- Decline in sexual desire;
- Mental fatigue or 'brain fog', as we call it;
- Increase in PMS symptoms, particularly mood swings;
- Panic and/or anxiety attacks and palpitations;
- Insomnia and/or restless sleep;
- Hot flashes and/or night sweats;
- Increase in vaginal dryness; and
Holtorf Medical Group treats a lot of patients with depression being the most severe of their symptoms. Many are on antidepressants and struggling to function and take care of their family or job. Studies show that that 66% of patients fail to respond to antidepressants or have side-effects severe enough to discontinue use. Of those who do respond, over half will relapse within one year. Low thyroid levels are a major contributor to depression. The Star Report, the largest study ever done on antidepressants showed that T3 is a better antidepressant than antidepressants. With monitoring, proper testing, and effective use of thyroid medication, our patients see remarkable results and are able to function again free of antidepressants and their side effects.
Patients may go to their doctors' office with symptoms of hormone disorders but are often told their hormones, such as thyroid, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and adrenal hormones are fine according to standard blood tests. Most doctors evaluate the lab results based on the reference ranges or "normal limits" but only the sickest 5% of the population will have results outside those normal limits. They just don't understand the complexity of hormonal imbalances, much less treat effectively.
Holtorf Medical Group's physicians know that when more extensive testing is done and optimal ranges, instead of "normal" ranges are considered, many patients have levels that might be within the "normal" range, but are not adequate for proper functioning.
Traditional physicians may have dismissed your symptoms as things that "you just have to live with" or may have tried treating the symptoms without looking for the cause. At Holtorf Medical Group, they understand your frustration and we have solutions that have worked for thousands of women. Their physicians have specialized training in women's health and know that much of what you are experiencing may be related to changes in hormone levels and the complex issues related to perimenopause and menopause.
If you want more information on how Holtorf Medical Group can address your symptoms associated with hormonal imbalances please visit http://www.holtorfmed.com/hormonal-imbalance-for-women.html or call 821-5384 to talk to a patient representative.