Hormone Balance in Women
As a gynecologist, women ask me about hormones and hormone testing on a daily basis. After all, keeping women in good hormonal balance is a large part of my job. We are trained to think that hormones only change when women enter menopause; but this is not true. Hormones can get “off course” and affect our ability to function at any age.
So let’s go over what the main hormones are, what they do, and what you may feel like if they are out of balance:
There are many hormones in a woman’s body, but three are central – estrogen, testosterone, and thyroid hormones. Women are always shocked by the second item on my list – we need testosterone?! YES! Granted, we do not need as much as men, but we still need a baseline amount for mood, energy, and libido. Estrogen and testosterone are produced by the ovaries, and the balance between them can vary significantly based on your age and where you are in your menstrual cycle. Thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid; these regulate your metabolic rate.
What happens when these hormones are out of balance?
Low estrogen levels give women the classic menopausal symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Low testosterone can cause women to experience fatigue, decreased libido, depression, irritability, anxiety, and decreased mental clarity, and it can contribute to PMS/PMDD. When your thyroid hormones are out of balance they can cause a wide range of symptoms that can affect your entire well-being.
Hormone Balance in Men
Perhaps surprisingly, I get a lot of questions about how a gynecologist became interested in men’s hormonal health, but the answer is simple – it all started with my husband!
About two years ago he became depressed; he just was not himself. His doctor started him on antidepressants – first it was Celexa, then Zoloft, then Effexor, then Lexapro, then Wellbutrin – and he also sought professional counseling. He got a little better, but not much. It was a day to day struggle.
So we started to do some research into male depression and hormones to see if there was any link. We found one – low testosterone levels. We checked his testosterone level and it was in the “normal” on the lab reference range. But then we dug deeper and discovered that testosterone levels for men (just like women’s hormones) vary by age. And my husband did have low testosterone for his age.
When he started on testosterone supplementation, the change was dramatic! He no longer takes anti-depressants of any kind, and has so much more energy and vitality. We have been so happy with his results!
Then it occurred to me – How many men out there are like my husband? Are they taking antidepressants that aren’t working? Or feeling like they are not the person that they were five or ten years ago, and they can’t put their finger on what’s wrong?
So I attended training offered through Biote Medical, a nationally acclaimed center for hormonal health, and became certified to offer counseling and treatment for hormonal deficiencies in men. A simple blood test (usually covered by insurance) can reveal important information tell you if you might benefit from hormone replacement.
Schedule an appointment!
So regardless of your age or gender, if you are curious about your hormonal balance, please call my office at 940-365-3030 to schedule a lab appointment. After your labs are drawn, you will then schedule an appointment to discuss your results and treatment options.
By Olga L. Cortez, M.D.