As women continue to grow older, most of them report that they feel ‘different.’ Most will blame the hormones for what they are experiencing. However, it is worth noting that hormones are not always the culprits of all changes occurring in a woman’s body. Sometimes, they may be caused by stress and lifestyle-related choices, not hormonal shifts as most people think.
However, that doesn’t mean hormones don’t play a huge role in your health. In fact, almost all body changes, from menstruation, pregnancy to menopause, are affected by hormones. Let us look at the different hormones and their effect on women’s health.
Although estrogen is a key female hormone, it is also found in males. It is produced in the ovaries and controls breast development, menstruation, ovulation, and bone cartilage and density.
Females with too much estrogen can be at risk of certain cancers and often experience menstrual problems, difficulty sleeping, headaches, weight gain, and dizziness.
On the other hand, when this hormone is produced in fewer amounts, you may experience osteoporosis, fertility challenges, mood disorders, and menstrual issues. Estrogen levels usually decrease as a woman ages. But some conditions can lead to low estrogen in people who aren’t perimenopausal.
Progesterone is a steroid hormone released by the corpus luteum. It prepares the uterus for the possibility of pregnancy once ovulation occurs. The hormone encourages the endometrium lining to support a fertilized egg and prevent contractions that may cause the body to reject the egg.
If a person doesn’t become pregnant, the corpus lutuem breaks down, leading to a decrease in progesterone. But if a woman gets pregnant, progesterone levels will continue to increase to support the growing baby.
When the progesterone levels are low, one may experience abnormal menstrual cycles or have trouble conceiving because the hormone is not enough to provide a stable environment for the fertilized egg to grow. Sometimes, a woman may succeed in getting pregnant with low progesterone levels. However, she is usually at a high risk of a miscarriage or preterm delivery since progesterone maintains pregnancy.
Signs of low progesterone include:
· Abnormal uterine bleeding
· Missed or irregular periods
· Sporting or abdominal pain during pregnancy
· Recurrent miscarriages
Sometimes low progesterone can create a high estrogen level which can cause weight gain, gallbladder problems, and decreased libido.
You might be surprised to learn that women also have testosterone, although it is dominant in males. It is produced in the ovaries, fat cells, and adrenal glands. The hormone controls sex drive, fat distribution, bone mass, production of red blood cells, and muscle strength.
High levels of testosterone lead to thinning hair in the head, facial hair, body hair, acne, low libido, small breasts, and more body fat. Low levels of this hormone can also cause irregular periods and fertility issues.
- Thyroid Hormone
The thyroid is located in the front part of the neck. It is a butterfly-shaped gland and sits low. It is responsible for secreting various hormones. However, sometimes, it doesn’t produce enough Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), leading to hypothyroidism.
Mayo clinic says that women over 60 years are likely to experience hypothyroidism which affects the balance of chemical reactions. You may not notice any symptoms in the early stages. But if left untreated, it can lead to infertility, heart disease, obesity, and other serious conditions.
Hypothyroidism can cause hoarseness, weight gain, dry skin, constipation, fatigue, muscle aches, and increased sensitivity to cold, among others. A simple blood test can check the TSH levels in your system. Treatment can include therapies or supplements to help balance your hormones if they are low.
Insulin is produced by the pancreas. Its primary purpose is to convert glucose in the foods we eat into energy to fuel the body. It is responsible for regulating blood sugar. When your body doesn’t produce this hormone properly, you may suffer from insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or diabetes.
Over 30 million people have diabetes, according to research conducted by CDC. At the same time, around 10% of pregnant women suffer from gestational diabetes yearly, which puts the mother and the baby at risk of health complications.
What to Do When Your Hormone Levels Are Low?
It is best to see a doctor if you think you’re suffering from hormonal imbalances. They can help spot any issue early and prevent it from becoming a big problem. That’s why regular visits to the doctor are important. But here are some things that can help balance your hormones:
Ensure you get enough sleep– did you know enough sleep is recommended as an anti-aging remedy? Not getting enough sleep can cause irritability and issues with memory and increase your risk of obesity and diabetes. Studies recommend adults get at least 7-9 hours of undisturbed sleep every night.
Follow a healthy diet– try eating plenty of fruits and vegetables. Also, include lean proteins and whole grains in your diet. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water every day. Lastly, include supplements with peptides to help build your muscle and boost weight loss.
Exercise regularly– regular physical activity helps lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus, it reduces your risk of diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease. So, make sure you create an exercise routine that works for you.
As we can see, hormones play an essential part in our health. Most symptoms experienced by women above 40 results from hormonal imbalances. If you feel anxious, dizzy, restless, moody, experiencing fertility or menstrual issues, or have gained weight without changing your diet or exercise routine, you may be suffering from hormonal imbalance. Thankfully, a doctor can easily detect the condition with a simple blood test.