Hormone balance is essential to good health for women of all ages. Hormonal imbalance is defined as chemical messengers which regulate our body's systems and that are no longer functioning properly. Hormone imbalance can contribute to such common problems as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), perimenopausal difficulties, infertility, miscarriage, osteoporosis, breast cancer, heart disease, fibroids, endometriosis, menstrual difficulties, mood disorders and ovarian cysts. Hormone testing is a valuable tool for achieving optimal hormone balance, as well as for maintaining that balance once it is achieved.
Hormones are the chemical messengers in the body that travel the bloodstream to the organs and tissues. They slowly work and affect many of the body's processes over time. Endocrine glands, which are special groups of cells, make hormones. There are many endocrine glands in the body with the main ones being the pituitary gland, thyroid, thymus, adrenal glands, and the pancreas. Hormones are dominant and it only requires a small amount of them to cause significant changes throughout the body. Both men and women produce hormones in the same areas with one exception, the sexual organs. Additional male hormones are produced in the testes while women's are produced in the ovaries.
When our hormones are working properly and in the right combinations, life is good. However, those same hormones that keep us happy and healthy can also cause emotional and physical distress if they are not in balance. Optimal hormone balance is critical to our physical and emotional well-being, as well as long-term protection against age-related concerns such as breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. Hormone testing is a valuable tool for achieving optimal hormone balance, as well as for maintaining that balance once it is achieved. The right balance of hormones is important for women of all ages.
To understand the hormones properly we should know that
1) Hormones have a profound effect on our everyday health and well-being.
2) Although present in only tiny amounts, hormones act on every cell of our body.
3) Hormones have individual effects, but also interact with each other to produce dramatic effects in the body; because of these interactions, they are able to trigger multiple body systems.
4) When any of the hormones are imbalanced, symptoms may occur. Imbalances are most common in puberty and menopause, but imbalances can happen at any age.
5) Several conditions are well known to be associated with hormonal imbalances including: polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, breast disease, and menstrual irregularities.
6) If hormone imbalance is left untreated it can result in serious medical conditions like diabetes.
Hormones exist in a very delicate balance, and are just one aspect of the many complex relationships present among our bodies nervous, endocrine, and immune systems. In addition, various factors such as diet, low blood sugar, stress, and sleep deficit can significantly affect both the function of the receptors and the levels of the plasma binding proteins, which subsequently affect the accuracy of hormone level measurements. As such, the accuracy of hormone testing is dependent upon many factors, some of which are within our control and some of which are not.
Testing Hormone Levels
Hormone balance is essential to good health for women of all ages. Unfortunately, the accuracy of the tests used to determine hormone levels varies widely. The major sex hormones to assess are estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. The main adrenal hormones are DHEA and cortisol. These five hormones will provide crucial information about deficiencies, excesses and daily patterns, which then result in a specifically tailored treatment approach. There is no single ideal method for assessment of hormones. Blood, saliva, and urine each have their advantages. Below are the types of tests that can be used to determine hormone levels:
Saliva Testing: saliva testing is the most accurate measurement of the body's availability of the hormones Cortisol, DHEA, Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone. Saliva testing is much more specific and correctly identifies the level of hormones at the cellular level, in contrast to a serum (blood) test, which measures the level of hormones circulating in the bloodstream. Saliva testing is not helpful, however, to monitor women who are taking hormones in a sublingual (drops or spray) or tans mucosal format. These forms of hormone delivery concentrate the hormones in the salivary glands and the resulting saliva levels are too high to be useful.
Serum or Blood Testing: Most serum tests define the normal range of hormones very broadly, which is a distinct disadvantage to their use. A blood (serum) test provides a direct assessment of circulating hormones. Most reported hormone values are "total", including both free and bound hormones. Testosterone is the exception, being offered as "free" as well as total testosterone. Serum tests offer relatively accurate values with well-established reference ranges. However, reference ranges are often broad, reducing their clinical utility. Typically, serum estrogen measurements only include Estradiol (E2), although Estrone (E1) is also available.
Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) Testing: FSH, another serum test, is frequently used to determine the hormonal status of premenopausal women who may complain of hot flashes, mood changes, or other symptoms. The FSH test should not be used as an accurate measure of sex steroid hormone production or as indication of reproductive status for most women, because the level of FSH fluctuates widely during the decade before menopause.
Urine Testing: 24-hour urine sample is most accurate because it provides a stable indicator of output not susceptible to the hour-to-hour fluctuations seen in serum or salivary measurements. Urine hormone testing is well-established in medical literature as a reliable method of assessing physiological hormone levels.
Some of the common imbalances identified through hormone testing include estrogen dominance, estrogen deficiency, progesterone deficiency, androgen (testosterone and DHEA) excess or deficiencies, adrenal dysfunction and adrenal fatigue.
Hormone balance is essential to good health for women of all ages. From PMS to menopause, these messengers of womanhood can affect your mood, your weight, your food cravings - even your desire for sex. For many women, it's smooth sailing, but for others, it's a shipwreck at every turn of the hormonal bend. Hormonal imbalance symptoms in women include Acne or oily skin, Bloating, Bone loss, Decreased fertility, Depression, Excess facial and body hair, Hot flashes, Heavy or painful periods, Irregular periods, Irritability, Loss of muscle mass, Loss of scalp hair, Low libido, Memory lapses, Mood swings, Nervousness, Night sweats, Poor concentration, Sleep disturbances, Tender or fibrocystic breasts, Urinary incontinence, Vaginal dryness, Weight gain, PMS, Early miscarriage, Anxiety, Insomnia, Cyclical headaches, infertility, Painful intercourse, Bladder infections, Lethargic, Puffiness and bloating, weight gain, Red flush on face, Weepiness, Cervical dysplasia (abnormal pap smear), Foggy thinking, Gallbladder problems, Ovarian cysts, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Hypoglycemia and/or unstable blood sugar, Mid-cycle pain, Debilitating fatigue, Brown spots on face and Intolerance to exercise.
There are a variety of hormonal abnormalities that can lead to infertility. Examples are hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), hyperprolactinemia (high male hormone levels) and luteal phase defect (low progesterone levels). Hormonal Imbalance is one of the leading cause of female infertility. The woman's inability to ovulate and regulate hormone levels cause a production of too much or too less of one particular hormone. This hormonal imbalance is manifested by symptoms that are easily detected allowing for treatment to begin as soon as possible. These symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, excessive bleeding or very little bleeding, abdominal and pelvic cramps, absence of menstrual period for stretches of time and excessive weight gain and loss.
The problems caused by hormonal imbalance that has connection with infertility includes
1) Glandular problems like thyroid, pituitary and hypothalamus glands problems. These glands are the primary glands that are responsible in creation and production of reproductive hormones.
2) Ovulatory disorder like overproduction of "Prolactin" which leads to disruption of hormonal levels.
3) Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) condition is marked by multiple growths of cysts in the ovaries, resulting in a hormonal imbalance and menstruation back flows.
4) Menopause in women often starts at the age of 40, if it comes earlier; it becomes a sure sign of infertility. Menopause is signaled by extreme mood swings, sleepiness, irregular menstruation and hot flashes.
5) Abnormal Cervical Mucus is a condition wherein the mucus lining the cervix and the uterus is not quite as it should be, With the low production of estrogen, the mucus becomes thick for sperm to pass or swim through.
Benefits of Proper Hormone Balance
Restoring hormone balance has been shown to have a beneficial effect on quality of life. Estrogen and progesterone therapies are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, significantly protect from heart attack, and reduce the bone loss associated with osteoporosis. Treatment with bioidentical progesterone and natural thyroid has been found to be effective in preventing miscarriages, solving some cases of infertility and helpful in treating menstrual difficulties, mood disorders, and PMS. Obtaining the proper hormone balance may help you avoid minor health irritations, as well as major health concerns, throughout the stages of your life.
Strength, energy, productivity and glowing health should be enjoyed throughout all the stages of a woman's life, from girlhood through motherhood to old age. Diet, nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction are some of the basic changes women need to make in their lives in order to restore hormone balance. Some women may need hormone supplementation to help bring their bodies back into balance. Obtaining a basic understanding of our hormones will begin the process of restoring our body's natural synchronization. Hormones have too much impact on our lives to ignore. Every aspect of our lifestyle can affect hormone balance and, just as importantly, hormone balance can profoundly influence every aspect of our lives.
The reproductive endocrinologist at Indira IVF will evaluate specific situations and perform tests in both the male and female partners to determine the cause of infertility. Specific treatment for hormonal infertility will be determined by Indira IVFs Hormonal Infertility experts based on: age, overall health, and medical history, cause of the disorder, tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies, and expectations for the course of the hormonal disorder. Once a diagnosis is made, there Hormonal Infertility specialists will work with you to determine the course of treatment. Depending on the cause of hormonal infertility, there are many options to offer an infertile couple. The types of treatments may include medications, intrauterine insemination (IUI), surgery, assisted reproductive technology (ART), in vitro fertilization (IVF), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), donor eggs, embryo cryopreservation and embryo adoption.