The level of hormones in our bodies reduces with age by as much as 1% every year when we hit 30. Since hormones are vital in several body functions, a drop in levels can have devastating effects. Hormonal imbalance can adversely affect your emotional and physical wellbeing. To help reverse the symptoms that accompany a hormone imbalance, healthcare providers, such as MacMed Spa in Milford, MA, offer bioidentical hormone therapy.
What Is Bioidentical Hormone Therapy?
Bioidentical hormones are man-made hormones with a chemical structure exactly like that of the hormones the body produces naturally. The most common hormones administered during bioidentical hormone therapy include estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, helping men and women boost their hormone levels or restore hormonal balance.
Signs You Need Bioidentical Hormone Therapy
As a Woman
Female health experts define irregular periods as periods that are lighter or heavier than usual or periods that are shorter or longer than usual. While many other factors can interfere with your regular menstrual cycle or flow, hormonal imbalance is often the prime suspect.
It can make your periods disappear for up to three months or cause menstrual bleeding to last more than eight days. Some women with a hormone imbalance can experience abdominal cramping or a lack of ovulation. The latter can cause fertility problems since there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize.
It is normal for many women to experience skin breakouts before or during their period. However, when a woman produces too much testosterone, she may develop chronic acne.
Male sex hormones (androgens), such as testosterone also adversely affect skin cells around hair follicles. Skin cell changes and excess oil clog pores, causing acne. Excess androgen in a woman’s body might be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a condition that can also cause fertility problems.
Hirsutism is a condition that causes the growth and development of excess and unwanted hair on a woman’s face and body. While all women have facial and body hair, hair that grows as a result of hirsutism is usually coarse and dark.
It grows on the face, back, arms, or chest. Hirsutism occurs when the body produces too much androgen. Women with links to South Asia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean are more likely to develop this condition.
When estrogen levels drop during perimenopause and after menopause, the vagina becomes drier, making the walls thinner. Thin vagina walls can be a source of pain during intercourse.
The lining of the gastrointestinal tract has cells that have receptors for progesterone and estrogen. When the levels of these hormones fluctuate, several functions of the digestive system are affected.
Some women experience bloating, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. While these symptoms can be caused by other conditions, when they appear along with fatigue and mood swings are more likely a sign of hormonal imbalance.
Low Sex Drive
Many people assume that testosterone is a male hormone. However, women also produce testosterone. When testosterone levels drop drastically, women may experience a low sex drive.
A medical study showed that when women were administered with 150 or 300 micrograms per day of testosterone through a topical patch, their libido improved significantly and they experienced less distress during sex compared to women who received a placebo.
Too much estrogen or lower-than-normal levels can cause changes in breast tissues. High levels of estrogen can cause dense or lumpy breast tissue. Sometimes too much estrogen can lead to the development of cysts.
Lower-than-normal levels of estrogen can reduce the density of breast tissue. According to a medical study, when postmenopausal women received progesterone and estrogen replacements, they noticed an increase in breast density compared to women who received a placebo.
The earliest signs of aging appear on the skin. Low levels of estrogen are sometimes accompanied by signs of skin aging. Estrogen plays a crucial role in preserving the quality of the skin. When levels drop significantly, you can develop some skin issues, such as flushing, wrinkles, and dryness. Some women with low estrogen levels also experience impaired wound healing.
Poor Mental Health
According to health experts, estrogen is vital in keeping the brain healthy and in top condition. It has a positive effect on neurotransmitters and cognition. Estrogen also improves your ability to cope with stress.
Health reports indicate there is a link between low levels of estrogen and an increased risk of psychosis. Additionally, women in menopause are more vulnerable to a second peak of schizophrenia onset. Research suggests hormone replacement therapy can reduce the frequency of mani episodes in women who suffer from bipolar disorder.
Changes in Weight Distribution
A drop in estrogen levels, especially after menopause is sometimes accompanied by weight gain around the abdomen and arms, increasing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
In a medical study, women that received hormone replacement therapy had no noticeable changes in weight around their abdomen and arms compared to women that did not receive hormone replacement therapy. The former group of women also showed improved bone mineral density.
As a Man
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone. It plays an essential role in several functions, including the development of male reproductive tissues and secondary sexual characteristics. As men age, the level of testosterone drops, affecting many body functions.
Testosterone levels can also reduce as a result of other conditions, especially those that affect the testicles. Here are some signs you should consider bioidentical hormone therapy:
Male sexual health experts define erectile dysfunction (ED) as the inability to achieve and maintain an erection firm enough for satisfactory sex. Testosterone stimulates the tissues in the penis to release nitric oxide, triggering a chain of reactions that result in an erection.
Therefore, when levels drop, one might find it difficult to achieve and maintain an erection. Men with low testosterone may also notice they no longer get spontaneous erections, especially those that appear while sleeping or in the morning.
Low Sex Drive
Just like ED, it is normal for men to experience low libido every once in a while. Factors such as stress, certain medications, conflict, and societal pressure can interfere with your ability to achieve and maintain an erection. These and other factors, such as certain medical conditions and age can also adversely affect your sex drive. However, low testosterone is a major and common cause of low libido.
Balding is a natural process that comes with age, especially in men with a family history of balding. However, since testosterone is vital in hair growth, lower-than-normal levels can cause premature facial and body hair loss.
Reduced Muscle Mass
As we have mentioned above, testosterone promotes secondary sexual characteristics, such as hair growth, muscle mass, and bone density. Therefore, when testosterone levels drop, men may experience reduced muscle mass. However, according to a 2016 medical review, this loss of muscle mass is not accompanied by loss of muscle strength and function.
Besides interfering with your sex drive and erection, low testosterone can also cause fertility problems. Testosterone helps in the production of semen, a fluid that makes up the majority of male ejaculate, helping transport the sperm to the egg. When testosterone levels drop, the volume of semen also reduces, affecting the movement of sperms from the testicles to the egg. This can cause fertility problems.
Low Blood Count
Lower-than-normal levels of testosterone increase the risk of developing anemia in men. Several medical reports indicate hormone replacement therapy improves the blood count in anemic men with low testosterone. Common effects of low blood count include dizziness, irregular heart rate, and sleeping and concentration problems.
Increased Body Fat
While low testosterone is often accompanied by reduced muscle mass as we have mentioned above, it can also lead to increased body fat. One of the most common signs that you need hormone therapy is gynecomastia. Men with gynecomastia have swollen or enlarged breast tissue, commonly known as man boobs. Gynecomastia occurs when testosterone reduces or estrogen increases.
Small Testicles and Reduced Penis Size
Testosterone plays a crucial role in the development of male reproductive tissues, including the testicles and penis. While other factors can contribute to an unusually smaller testicle and penis size, men with low testosterone are more vulnerable to this condition. Their scrotum may also feel and look tender compared to that of men with normal testosterone levels.
There are other signs of hormonal imbalance that are common in both men and women. These include:
Reduced Bone Density
As the primary male and female sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen are responsible for the development of bone density in men and women respectively. When the levels of these primary sex hormones drop, men and women become more vulnerable to osteoporosis, a condition that makes the bones weak and brittle.
While osteoporosis is more common in women, with medical reports estimating that 50% of all women aged 50 and above will suffer a bone fracture because of the condition, it can also affect men.
This is another condition that is typically thought to affect women only. However, men with low testosterone can also experience hot flashes. Hot flashes are sudden feelings of heat and warmth across the face, arms, chest, and back.
They are often followed by sweating and chills. When hot flashes occur at night, they are called night sweats. Night sweats lower the quality of your sleep and affects your overall wellbeing.
Low estrogen and testosterone can also cause sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea stop breathing temporarily while asleep. They are also more likely to snore. You should see a doctor when you develop sleep apnea to avoid further complications.
Low estrogen and testosterone levels can reduce energy levels. Men and women experiencing hormonal imbalance, are likely to feel overtired and a strong urge to rest and sleep, finding it difficult to engage in normal daily activities.
They may also lose interest in hobbies and other activities they previously enjoyed. Fun activities, such as cycling, jogging, or swimming can start feeling like chores, taking the excitement out of them.
Besides playing a key role in several physical functions in the body, estrogen and testosterone also influence several mental and emotional functions. They help in the production of serotonin, a brain chemical responsible for enhancing moods.
Hormonal imbalance can interfere with the production of serotonin, causing mood swings and exacerbation of mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. When someone suffers from constant mood swings and changes, they become easily irritable, affecting their relationships with others.
While experiencing one or more of the signs we have mentioned above is a possible sign you need hormone therapy, the only way to be sure is by visiting a doctor for hormone testing. A doctor will assess your physical symptoms, review your health history and that of your family, and order some tests for an accurate diagnosis. Contact MacMed Spa in Milford, MA, to enjoy the benefits of bioidentical hormone therapy.