Hormonal Imbalance is something that everyone will face at some point in their lives. For some it will happen at a time that they expect it to, such as menopause or much later in life. However, more and more people are beginning to experience the symptoms of hormonal imbalance at younger and younger ages. There are many possible causes for this that largely have to do with our modern lives and environment.
Hormonal imbalance can cause many undesirable symptoms that can have a dramatic impact on our quality of life, such as:
- Unexplained Weight Gain
- Chronic Fatigue
- Insomnia / Trouble Staying Asleep
- Loss of Libido / Sexual Performance
- Mood Swings / Anxiety / Depression
- Headaches & Migraines
- Loss of Muscle Mass & Strength
- Lack of Drive & Initiative
- Poor Memory / Foggy Thinking
- Muscle & Joint Pain
- And more…
If you are experiencing many of these symptoms you may be suffering from hormonal imbalance. If you suspect you may have hormonal imbalance, you can take our Free Hormone Quiz to see how likely it is you would benefit from treatment.
Let’s take a look at 9 of the most common causes of hormonal imbalance:
Xenoestrogens are a type of endocrine disruptor, meaning they interfere with the proper function of our endocrine system. Xenoestrogens are a sub-category of the endocrine disruptor group that specifically has estrogen-like effects. They are ten to a hundred times more potent than estrogens occurring naturally in the body. The accumulative exposure to xenoestrogens can contribute to a condition called estrogen dominance women and low testosterone in men.
Xenoestrogens are commonly found in non-organic beef and dairy that is pumped up with synthetic growth hormones, in household cleaners and personal care products that contain toxic chemicals, in plastics, acetones (e.g., fingernail polish and removers) and in pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and industrial pollutants. Xenoestrogens tend to accumulate in body fat such as breast tissue, and play a dangerous role in the initiation and progression of breast cancer.
Birth control that uses synthetic hormones, such as birth control pills and shots, are a primary cause of hormonal imbalance in women. These contraception methods contain a synthetic form of progesterone called medroxy-progesterone acetate, or progestin that is foreign to our bodies. Progestins have been molecularly altered until they no longer have the same chemical structure as our naturally occurring hormones.
Progestins shut down our body’s natural production of progesterone. This can alter the body’s ability to properly produce its own progesterone once the contraception has been discontinued. Progesterone is a key precursor to other steroid hormones, including cortisol, testosterone, so when your natural production shuts down it leads to further hormonal imbalance. Progestins also rob a multitude of vital nutrients from your body, including b vitamins, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and folate. Progestins have been proven in multiple studies to increase your risks of cancer, heart attack, stroke and clots. Natural, bio-identical progesterone on the other hand has the opposite effect and is actually protective against cancer, heart disease, stroke, and bone loss. Read more about the difference between bio-identical and synthetic progesterone.
The Aging Process
As we age, our naturally occurring hormones begin to decline and become imbalanced. The decline of our hormones is directly tied to our health and well-being. As our hormones decline and become imbalanced so do our bodies.
In men, this decline is called andropause. A man’s testosterone usually peaks around their mid-20’s and starts to decline each year by approximately 1-2% each year. By the time a man reaches his 40’s he has lost a good percentage of his testosterone and can begin to experience the symptoms of Low-T.
In women there are actually two main phases that they go through, perimenopause and menopause. Most people are aware of the hormonal changes that occur when a women reaches menopause. They are also aware of the common symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, and vaginal dryness. However, far fewer people are familiar with the phase that occurs leading up to menopause called perimenopause. During this time the body is in a state of flux and can experience some of the same symptoms of menopause. Women enter perimenopause at different ages, and some can begin to experience symptoms in their 30s and even 20s. The most common
Unfortunately genetic predispositions to hormonal imbalance are inescapable; however, understanding your predispositions gives you the opportunity to stay ahead of the curve. Often times they are misunderstood and the symptoms are considered the cause rather than the hormonal imbalance itself. For example, you may have a history of breast cancer in your family; however it may be that you have a history of estrogen dominance in your family and the breast cancer is a symptom of that imbalance. If you have a family history of breast cancer, infertility, fibroids, fibrocystic breasts, heavy/irregular periods, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, or prostate cancer in men, you may be predisposed to hormonal imbalance.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
During pregnancy a woman’s body produces very large amounts of progesterone. This rise in progesterone is essential in maintaining the pregnancy. In the first 24 hours after childbirth, there is a rapid and continuous drop in progesterone that is intended to lower the woman’s levels back to where they were before pregnancy. However, in many cases it drops to a level lower than that and with each additional child, can reach even lower levels.
As a side note, this sudden drop in hormones after childbirth can commonly cause post-partum depression. Having chronic low levels of progesterone can cause long term anxiety and depression. Read more about hormones and depression here.
Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin (SHBG)
Sex hormone-binding globulin is a protein that binds to hormones. SHBG is produced mostly by the liver and is released into the bloodstream. When SHBG is bound to a hormone it prevents the hormone for being bio-available, or active in the body.
When SHBG is too high it can lower your levels of active hormones. For example, too much SHBG can cause a man’s free testosterone (the active form) to be too low. There are various causes of high SHBG, such as your age, caffeine, birth control pills, and various mineral deficiencies such as zinc and magnesium.
Thyroid Binding Gobulin
When a women is in a state of estrogen dominance, her liver produces excess amounts of a protein called thyroid-binding globulin (TBG) into the bloodstream. These proteins bind to the thyroid hormones and prevent them from being properly used by the body. Conventional thyroid lab tests will not reveal this condition and is a common cause for misdiagnosis. Even though they may show normal thyroid hormone levels in the blood, there may be insufficient thyroid hormone in the tissues. Comprehensive thyroid testing, along with sex hormone testing and symptom analysis it required for an accurate diagnosis.
Candida (Yeast Overgrowth)
Candida is a fungus that naturally lives in your digestive tract in very small amounts. However, if the amount of candida spreads to an unhealthy level is can overwhelm the other good bacteria in your gut and take over. Candida produces 79 different toxins that can wreak havoc in your body and cause many symptoms such as skin rashes, athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, fatigue, digestive issues, brain fog, anxiety, vaginal and urinary tract infections, and more. It can also produce a waste product that can mimic your hormones, which tricks the body into thinking it has produced adequate levels, and cause your body to reduce production less hormones.
Candida overgrowth is most commonly caused by anti-biotic use. Anti-biotics kill off too much of the good bacteria in the gut, and cause an imbalance that allows the candida to take over. Diets high in sugars and refined carbohydrates feed candida and cause it to spread. Read more about candida overgrowth and how to treat it here.
Prolonged stress, whether as a result of emotional, environmental or physical causes, is disastrous for the adrenals, and can lead to a condition called adrenal fatigue. Since the adrenals contribute to the creation of many of your other hormones, compromised adrenal function profoundly affects hormonal balance.
Are You Suffering From the Symptoms of Hormonal Imbalance?
As you can see, there are several possible causes of hormonal imbalance. At the Dr. Shel Wellness & Medical Spa our mission is to help our patients get to the root causes of their symptoms and then treat them with a holistic and natural approach. If you would like to schedule a Free Consultation with one of our wellness consultants, give us a call at 281-313-7435 or by using our consultation request form today!