Estrogen often gets a bad name in the press but the proper estrogen level is important for your overall health.
Signs of Estrogen deficiency in women:
- Hot Flashes
- Vaginal Dryness
- Drooping Breasts
- Urine Incontinence
- Recurrent Urine Infections
- Depressed Mood
- Dry, Dehydrated more Wrinkle prone skin
Having the right amount of Estrogen in your body is important for your overall mental and physical health. When replacing a low Estrogen level it is important to use the right amount and to utilize bio-identical Estrogen.
Bio-identical Estrogen is biologically identical to what your body should be naturally producing, but is not. The right amount is when you feel balanced without having the side effects of Estrogen excess (breast tenderness, swelling, excess menstrual bleeding).
When balancing your hormones, it is always best to seek the help of a qualified physician who is specially trained in bio-identical hormones so that you can safely achieve an optimal balance.
Estrogen is often looked at as the enemy–causing weight gain, breast tenderness, bleeding issues, and even certain cancers. It is not Estrogen that is bad, it is the imbalance of Estrogen to Progesterone and Testosterone that causes the problems.
Every man and woman needs a certain amount of Estrogen in their bodies. There are actually several different Estrogen types that your body makes–a couple of them are even felt to be anti-cancer. Your body requires the proper amount of Estrogen in order to have healthy bones, skin, a good memory, a balanced mood, and to overall function well.
When you get your hormones evaluated by a bio-identical hormone specialist, we make sure to get your hormones into the right balance so that you can feel and look your best, while working to reduce your long term risk of dementia, osteoporosis, heart disease, certain cancers, etc.
Aside from taking bio-identical hormones and achieving the right Estrogen/Progesterone/Testosterone balance, you can also help your hormone metabolism in other ways. Reducing your sugar intake and regular exercise helps your body to metabolize your Estrogen properly. Consuming cruciferous vegetables and/or taking the supplement DIM also helps your Estrogen go down an anti cancer pathway.
It is a hormonal imbalance that causes the problems – not the hormones themselves. Utilizing bio-identical hormones, taking the right supplements, and living a healthy lifestyle have been shown to help men and women live an optimal life.
Imagine moving around and being able to do the things that you love to do. Perhaps you are already feeling vital and strong, but perhaps you are like the majority of people out there who yearn for a body that serves them better. Are you feeling tired, achy, moody, flabby or just feel that you have passed your peak?? Men and women both can feel this way and it is not the way that you have to age. Having a slow decline in your health is not your destiny—you can live with vitality and when it is your time to go, leave this earth quickly and not after a slow deterioration over 30, or more years.
With modern sanitation, medicine, and an abundance of food we are living longer lives. Unfortunately with longer lives we are seeing a marked increase in the number of chronic illnesses and the number of years that an individual is alive but is in a deteriorating state. We can not avoid dying but we can shorten the dying process and increase the number of years that we live feeling younger. If you are all about the quality of life then continue reading.
Declining hormones, along with poor lifestyle choices, are largely responsible for the slow deterioration that we are seeing all around us. The good news is that we have the capability to prevent this slow deterioration, and even reverse some of it . This gives us the ability to live long AND vital lives, not just long lives.
Decreased levels of Testosterone, Thyroid, Estrogen (women only), Progesterone, and Growth Hormone are often experienced for years before a person seeks medical attention. The decline can be subtle, especially for men, and is often misdiagnosed as depression, anxiety, the normal aging process, or simply that nothing is wrong with the person. The problem lies in the fact that the majority of doctors are not specially trained in detecting hormone imbalances as they are taught to look at normal values and they are not allowed the proper time to get to know you and your unique needs. Let’s face it–you do not want to be average, you want to be above average, right?? The “normal” values do not represent optimal.
A low sex drive is a common complaint. This is heard from both women and men, but men are more likely to be concerned about it and women sadly tend to accept it more easily. A healthy sex life is important for both men and women–a couple needs intimacy to truly thrive in their relationship.
There are many reasons for a low sex drive. Stress definitely lowers anyone’s sex drive so it is important that you take time to relax and spend quiet time alone as a couple. If you are having communication problems or other issues with your partner these need to be addressed. Seek the help of a counselor or communication expert if needed. Make your relationship a priority.
Hormonal imbalances in both men and women can drastically affect a sex drive (your desire for sexual relations with your partner). In addition, a hormonal imbalance can affect function– in men it can affect your erection abilities and for women it can affect your vaginal lubrication. Both men and women require optimal Testosterone, Estrogen, and Progesterone for healthy sexual functioning and desire–obviously the levels of each of these hormones differ in men and women but both sexes need all of these hormones to be optimal.
If you are a man or woman in your late 30’s to 50’s who has noticed a decline in sex drive and/or sexual functioning it is smart to get your hormones properly evaluated by a bio-identical hormone specialist. Regular doctors simply look at normal values and normal values will mistakenly show that you are fine when you are not. Optimal hormone levels are where you function at your best and this is what a hormone specialist is trained to help you achieve.
What to expect after a bio-identical hormone pellet insertion for women –
You will have had a local anesthetic before the bio-identical pellets are inserted. You will receive one to two bio-identical Testosterone pellets and possibly one bio-identical Estrogen pellet depending on your specific needs. The majority of women find that the actual pellet insertion is quite painless. You may feel a slight pressure at times but no sharp pain. The only possible discomfort during the procedure is when the local anesthetic is placed (it can sting a little).
It is important to ice the area where the pellet was inserted over the following 4 hours. It is best to place an ice pack on the area for about 10-15 minutes and then have a period of 20-30 minutes with no ice, then repeat. This will minimize any swelling and discomfort that you may have.
You must avoid immersing the area in water for 4 days. Showering is fine. No baths, pool, or hot tub use. You must also avoid heavy exercise for the next 4 days. Walking is fine. Any action that causes your buttocks muscles to contract strongly has the potential for pushing the pellets out. This is only a precaution for the first four days. After that time period you are free to do whatever you wish in regards to activity and water exposure.
You may have some tenderness in the area (buttocks area, above where pants pockets are) for a few days. Rarely some women feel a slight discomfort for up to two weeks. If you follow the instructions listed above this will decrease any discomfort. If you do experience tenderness it should not interfere with your daily activities.
The majority of women barely notice any discomfort after the procedure. You are able to go back to work after the procedure as long as you can follow the precautions given.
Testosterone and Estrogen perform many functions in the human body–they are not just there to help us feel better. It can take up to 3-4 weeks to feel the benefits of the pellets. If you feel no different by four weeks after the pellet insertion, it is important to get your hormone levels done so that we can assess your needs. Sometimes you need a booster bio-identical pellet insertion after your first insertion because your hormone stores were so low.
Each woman uses up their bio-identical pellets at a different rate. You will typically need a re-pellet at 3-5 months from the time of insertion. Get your re-pellet done at the first signs of your symptoms slightly recurring.
Communicate with the hormone specialist who inserted your pellets if you are unsure of what to do or if you have any questions. It is important for us to know how you are doing so that we may help you.
Sylvia (name has been changed for privacy) sat down in front of me and said “I am whacked”. “I feel like I am crazy–I fly off the handle at little things-it is so easy to get irritated. Also, I am not depressed but I just don’t have any joy or energy anymore. And I worry about little things. My regular doctor thinks I need an anti-depressant but I don’t think that is the answer. I never had these issues until I turned 46.”
I actually hear stories like this quite often from women age 35-55. This is the time in a woman’s life when her hormones really start to change. It is so sad that women are made to feel like they are in need of an anti depressant automatically. Many health care providers, and patients, fail to look at the possibility that a hormonal imbalance can be the cause of feeling “wacky”.
It is a common misconception that hormonal changes are only felt as hot flashes or night sweats. Your hormones (specifically Progesterone, Estrogen, and Testosterone) have so many more functions in your body than just preventing hot flashes or giving you a sex drive. These hormones perform hundreds of different functions in your body. One of those things is helping you to feel emotionally balanced and to have better energy and vitality.
In Sylvia’s case I found that she lacked Testosterone, Progesterone, and B-12. I gave her a bio-identical Progesterone capsule at night which helped to calm her and enhance her sleep quality. I also inserted a bio-identical Testosterone pellet which also helped her to balance her mood and gave her back her vitality. She was counseled to eat an organic whole food based diet and to eliminate gluten (gluten has been found to be a hormonal disrupter and she was found to be sensitive to it). She was also given methyl-B12 injections (B-12 is important for the proper functioning of hormones) and this also helped her energy.
Feeling emotionally out of balance can be caused by hormonal imbalances and Sylvia’s case shows this perfectly. Feeling “whacked” is a thing of the past and without the use of an antidepressant.
Your body–whether male or female–makes estrogen (of course women make a lot more of it than men!) There are three main kinds of estrogens that are made: estradiol, estriol, and estrone. Each one varies in how potent they are, i.e. how much they stimulate the estrogen receptors. Estradiol is the most potent and estriol is the weakest.
All hormones, including estrogen, are eventually broken down in the liver by enzymes (metabolized). A healthy metabolism of hormones is critical for keeping you in optimal health. You can affect this metabolism by what you eat, your environmental exposures, and your lifestyle choices. The right choices help your body to metabolize estrogen down a non-cancer pathway, while the wrong choices can encourage cancer growth. Estrogen is not a bad hormone, it is an excess amount of the wrong type of estrogen that promotes cancer.
Eating a healthy diet full of cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc) is one way to shift your body to promote estrogen metabolites that actually help to prevent cancer. Interestingly, it will also help improve your libido! This is also true when it comes to avoiding chemicals that can be found in the following products: herbicides, pesticides, plastics, household cleaning products, solvents, skin care products, etc. Many of the chemicals used in common products enter your body and can alter your hormonal activity and balance–potentially starting in-utero from the mother’s exposure!!
Using synthetic hormones such as birth control pills also affect the way that your body processes estrogen (among other things) and can potentially promote cancer cells. This is one of the reasons why there is so much controversy surrounding the use of hormones and cancer risk. Utilizing bio-identical hormones when your body needs additional hormonal help avoids this problem. Bio-identical hormones are a carbon copy of what your body naturally makes—your body knows how to utilize them properly.
Optimizing a woman’s hormones may involve the use of bio-identical estrogen and when done under the guidance of a properly trained physician it is safe and has not been shown to promote cancers. In fact, proper use of bio-identical hormones have been shown in many instances to decrease your risk of certain cancers.
Do you remember getting on a merry go round as a young child and getting off feeling out of balance? The good thing is that the feeling goes away after a few minutes.
What if it didn’t?
Well that is what many women experience as they age, their hormones get out of balance and they feel out of touch with themselves. Have you ever felt that way?do you feel that way now?
You may have heavy periods, irregular periods, and/or painful periods, or if your periods are gone you may have hot flashes and/or night sweats. Perhaps you have trouble sleeping or losing weight? You have little or no sex drive and you may even feel depressed and/or anxious.
You simply know that something is “off” with your hormones if you are reading this. The list of symptoms goes on and on.
What do all of these things have in common? They are all symptoms of your estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone being out of balance.
Estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. You might be asking yourself “What exactly are those?”
When I treat patients with bio-identical hormones I like to share with them natural ways to ensure that their body processes estrogen correctly. Your body has several different metabolites of estrogen–some help to prevent cancer and others help to promote it. Obviously you want your body to metabolize estrogen in a way that does not promote cancer and helps your body to prevent cancer formation.
I3C is a naturally occurring compound that is derived from cruciferous vegetables (brussel sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage). I3C actively promotes the breakdown of estrogen to the beneficial metabolite (2 OH Estrone).
According to a fairly recent study in both men and women, supplementation with I3C (500 mg men and 400 mg women) resulted in a significant improvement in the production of 2 OH Estrone.
I3C not only helps to promote a healthier estrogen metabolism, it also appears to be able to help the body detoxify against xenoestrogens (false estrogens).
You can get I3C by eating a large amount of the cruciferous vegetables and you can also use a supplement form of I3C. Whether or not you are on bio-identical hormones, I advise that you follow this advice. You want your body to properly process the estrogen that your body naturally makes as well as the hormones that you give it.
Did you know that you get exposed to hormones on a regular basis? This contributes to hormonal imbalances.
You can find hormones in animal products given hormones to grow. This includes beef and dairy products. There are also environmental toxins that mimic the function of estrogen in your body. You can find these chemicals in pesticides, herbicides, plastics, refrigerants, and industrial solvents. They are structurally similar to estrogen and can fool your body into responding to them as if they were estrogen.
Environmental factors influence your hormone balance. It is important that you eat organic food and minimize toxin exposure. Sometimes Chelation of toxic build up is even necessary. Bio-identical hormone specialists look at all of these factors when balancing your hormones.