In your 30s to early 40s, levels of key hormones shift as the body starts to progress through perimenopause toward menopause. Many women don't realise that these changes can happen as early as 35 years of age. We are familiar with the signs of menopause—hot flashes, weight gain, mood swings—but how about all those other signs of “aging” that are often neglected such as dry skin, hair loss, poor sleep and reduced libido? These signs and more can be attributed to an imbalance of hormones as you approach perimenopause and menopause.
Women and men experience menopause and andropause respectively. Both menopause and andropause can be unsettling and cause depression and anxiety in patients; especially when do not understand why they undergo these physical, psychological and emotional changes. These changes are caused with changes in our hormone levels as our bodies age. By addressing these hormones changes and imbalances and supporting healthy lifestyle factors, these signs and symptoms often associated with aging—are reduced and optimal health and functioning.
What do hormones do, exactly? The body has many different hormones and hormones act on different organs in the body to maintain normal body functions. All our hormones work together like players in a team - they each play different roles with the overarching function of maintaining our physical, emotional and psychological health.
The endocrine system secretes hormones directly into the bloodstream. The primary glands of this system include:
For women, estrogen (or estradiol) is the main sex hormone. It causes puberty, prepares the body and uterus for pregnancy, and regulates the menstrual cycle. In the skin, estrogen decreases pore size, creating a smooth surface. It also helps build collagen and elastin, proteins that give the skin its elasticity. During menopause, women experience a natural drop in estrogen levels, along with side effects that range from hot flashes to headaches to joint pain
Androgens include testosterone, which is usually thought of as the male hormone, but as with estrogen and males, testosterone and other androgens are also present in females. During puberty, a rise in androgens stimulates hair growth, particularly facial, pubic and underarm hair; increases bone density and causes muscle mass growth and strength. In the skin, androgens enlarge pores and boost the production of sebum, an oily substance produced in the skin. In the years preceding menopause, a woman may suffer from decreased testosterone as her ovaries and adrenal glands slow the production of sex hormones. This explains why many women experience a drop in libido during this period of their lives.
Ghrelin and leptin work together to facilitate feeding, energy balance and weight management. When this set of hormones goes rogue, that’s when we lose the ability to recognise when the body is satiated and overeat as a result.
Aldosterone regulates our bodies’ sodium-to-water ratio. Abnormal levels of aldosterone could cause high blood pressure and lethargy.
Thyroid hormones regulate of the metabolism of every cell in our bodies and hence controls how fast we burn calories. When estrogen and progesterone proportions are not in sync (e.g. menopause), it can interfere with the action of the thyroid hormone. Low levels of thyroid hormones can lead to weight gain, depression and fatigue while on the other hand, elevated levels of thyroid hormones can cause symptoms such as anxiety, excessive sweating and accelerated heart rate.
Cortisol has been called the "stress hormone" because of the way it triggers the body in responding to stress. When we are under constant pressure, our cortisol levels are kept at a dangerously elevated state which could suppress the immune system and cause many health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure. It has also often been linked to the accumulation of abdominal fat.
Melatonin levels change throughout the day, increasing after dark to trigger the responses that cause sleep. Low levels of melatonin are often the cause of poor sleep and depression.
When our hormones are in proper balance, they help the body thrive. However, we must first understand the effects of our hormones on skin and overall health to empower us to seek lifestyle changes to navigate these natural fluctuations. With the power of knowledge, let us tailor solutions to achieve the maximum glow of hormonal balance all month long and all life long.
Somewhere in your mid-30s to early 40s, levels of key hormones shift as the body progresses through perimenopause toward menopause. Here are some common symptoms that your hormones may be imbalanced:
Hormone balancing begins with a detailed consultation and diagnostic test to determine the levels of your hormones and the causes, if any. Treatment of hormone imbalance is dependent on your symptoms and your hormone levels. Hormone balancing is also supported by nutrition and lifestyle habits.
I primarily use blood tests to evaluate hormone levels. Hormone testing is an effective way to determine how hormones are playing a role in your condition which hence helps us to identify the root cause of the imbalance and restore your rhythm back to its optimum levels.
Hormonal imbalances can be caused by micronutrient deficiencies. When we want to improve estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol and thyroid performance, it all boils down to improving micronutrient (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, EFAs) stores. What this means is that an adequate dietary intake of nutrients is necessary for your hormones to be balanced.
Fluctuating levels of hormones (eg, thyroid, insulin, androgens estrogen and progesterone) can cause a metabolic imbalance in the body. As hormones decline, neurotransmitters, cortisol, and insulin change in such a way that lowers our metabolism and contributes to weight gain. Calories matter, more to some people than others and hormones play an important role in this balance.