Hope this finds you enjoying late spring in Sonoma County or wherever you are. Such a wonderful time of year to enjoy hiking and the natural beauty of the out-of-doors. And, I find myself after these ventures, feeling refreshed and renewed in life, better able to enjoy it and relieved of whatever stress I might have been feeling. Hope you are taking time outdoors, too.
Wanted to share with you this month some ideas that I often don’t have time to cover in an office visit with you, but are very important as you make your decision to use hormones and to continue using them.
Hormones are the chemical messengers made by the body to deliver communication from one part or system to another.
They may be stimulating hormones to make a gland increase function and produce more of a specific type of hormone only it can make. Or they may be the actual hormone itself which goes into cell receptors throughout the body and communicates the action of that hormone on those tissue types.
There are many different types of hormones and you are familiar with several. Often at mid-life with the decline in hormone production that happens with aging, we specifically need to pay attention to several of these.
Most commonly needing our attention are sex hormones, thyroid, adrenals, insulin/glucose, and sometimes neurotransmitters.
Integrative Medicine has found that by monitoring and re-balancing these specific hormones at this point in life, we can significantly slow down aging, create vitality and prevent major disease development.
Sex hormone decline often creates symptoms that negatively impact our quality of life from mood changes, depression, fatigue, insomnia, low libido, loss of muscle mass to many others. These symptoms often become so disruptive to our lives that we seek care to help find balance again. That’s when I meet you and we look at options for recreating balance within your body.
In addition, those sex hormones do much more than what you might experience on the surface. Cellular inflammation, the root of most all chronic diseases, is kept in check when the dominate sex hormones for males and females are kept balanced. When sex hormones decline, there is a natural increase in cellular inflammation and risks of everything from cardiovascular diseases to arthritis to diabetes to auto-immune diseases and more increase significantly.
Ever wonder why we often start getting chronic diseases in our 50’s and 60’s?
Chronic disease development is related to the decline in sex hormones. What an opportunity we have then, to replace sex hormones as they decline with bio-identical molecules to maintain good physiologic function and prevent disease development.
This is becoming one of the most important and sought out reasons for using bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT), something that has long been predicted by the BHRT professional community. I sometimes joke that eventually, insurance companies will realize the cost savings they could see if all their members were getting this level of disease prevention, and that they will encourage and even urge members to be on bio-identical hormone replacement! We certainly are getting closer to that with all the research of the past 30+ years that continues to be done and published on BHRT and its benefits.
Our metabolism is directly influenced by hormonal levels.
That is why many women and men at mid-life, despite eating very healthfully and maintaining good exercise, will gain weight. We have to understand that at this point in our lives the hormonal declines we experience are in high control of our metabolism. Then we can ease up the pressure on ourselves to be perfect examples of good diet and exercise. How many times have we beaten ourselves up in our minds for being a happy human and enjoying even a small portion of a food that brings us pleasure! Ease up is the message here!
Testosterone especially affects our glucose control in our bodies and is needed to avoid pre-diabetes and diabetes development and it’s associate, cardiovascular disease. By regular monitoring of your HgA1c and CRP levels (and sometimes other labs) we can assess where your level of risk for these diseases really is and make corrections as needed. Then institute changes in diet, lifestyle – including stress management, and hormones to prevent diabetes and heart disease from developing.
We routinely monitor your levels of estrogens, progesterone and thyroid to ensure their balance, too. When these hormones are stable your moods are more even, avoiding extremes in moods like depression, anxiety, irritability. Good libido and sexual intimacy require adequate levels of these hormones. They also help you to be lean and trim, avoiding obesity and associated health risks. Getting a good night’s sleep regularly, which is vital for continued good health, is dependent to a large degree on their being optimal.
Living life with energy, with positivity can be the result of balance with these hormones.
Then there are the adrenal hormones and how they prevent inflammation, promote stable immune function and provide essential energy to all parts of the body. And the neurotransmitters regulating sleep, cognition, moods. And the growth hormones and the open heart hormone called oxytocin, and the list goes on.
I think you are getting the picture. Hormones affect every part of being in a human body and experiencing the wholeness of human life on every level. And what a wonderful opportunity we have to maintain their balance as we go thru life and get the benefits of doing that!
Here’s to living life at its fullest!
Jane Kennedy, CFNP, MN, MPH