Who was it that once said the only things inevitable in life are death and taxes? Whoever it was, they missed another inevitable – getting older! Ageing is not something that we can anything about. Some people become older – as in how they feel and look – much earlier in their lives than others, as it is an unpredictable procedure.
Ageing brings with it many changes and some of these can be problematic. When our skin begins to look and feel older it can affect our confidence. This can have a negative effect on the individual’s life. Then there is the tiredness that comes with ageing, which is something we all begin to feel at some point of our lives.
Another effect of ageing is that of hormonal changes. Contrary to what you may believe hormone changes are not limited to women and can also affect men. However, in this article we are looking specifically at female hormonal imbalances – of which more later – and the subject of hormone therapy for women and why it is important. Let’s begin by looking at hormones, what they are, and the purpose of them in our daily lives.
What Is the Purpose of Hormones?
Hormones are an essential part of how our body works. In women, the hormone estrogen is the main one we need to be looking at. In men, it’s the male counterpart testosterone. Both of these are essential to sexual development and indeed performance, but there is much more to hormones than one simple purpose.
Hormones are chemicals that are produced by various organs in the body. In the female body, Estrogen is produced in the ovaries. This is important as we will find out later on. Hormones are essentially regulators. They keep the blood at certain levels and also have an effect on other parts of the body. For example, insulin is a well-known hormone that regulates blood sugar level.
Estrogen affects not just the sexual organs but is also an essential growth hormone (as is testosterone in men.) It has an effect on cognitive performance, is essential to keeping bone density correct, and can also affect weight gain.
In woman, a boost of estrogen is experienced during ovulation. However, the female reproductive system effectively ‘shuts down’ as she ages. This is usually noted in her forties. This is known as the menopause. The ovaries stop ovulating, the estrogen boost no longer occurs, and the effect is a notable and potentially long-term change in mood and attitude. This is the effect of a hormone imbalance, so let’s have a brief look at that.
What is a Hormone Imbalance?
The brain and the central nervous system work together to ensure that production of hormones is kept at the right level at the right time. However, once the ovaries shut down, there is nothing the brain can do. There is less estrogen in the body than there ideally should be. Some hormones can experience over-production. A hormone imbalance is when the production of hormones is out of synch with what the body needs. Here are some of the symptoms that a woman may experience during menopause:
- Mood change and irritability
- Loss of sexual appetite
- Low self-esteem
- Fatigue and lack of enthusiasm
- Vaginal dryness and itching
- Dry skin
- Poor concentration levels
- Lower bone density
- Weight gain
- General feeling of listlessness
Though that is not a comprehensive list it should give an idea of what a woman experiences during this time of great hormonal change. However, medical science has given us hormone therapy, or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) which is a welcome boost to many women. Let’s talk about hormone therapy and the expected results.
What is Hormone Therapy?
Hormone therapy is an umbrella term that covers a variety of procedures in which replacement hormones are put into the body. There are various methods including injections, pills, and the insertion of small capsules under the skin that slowly release the hormone into the body.
Until recently hormones used in HRT were synthetic. Put simply, this meant that each patient was effectively given the same synthetic chemical (although it could be in different doses.) This method may be effective for one person, but not for another.
Recent years have seen the emergence of bioidentical hormones. This is a major step forward. Bioidentical hormones are custom made for the individual patient and are chemically identical and with the same molecular structure as that person’s actual naturally produced hormone. This massive breakthrough means that HRT can be specifically targeted at the patient with greater success and is also safer than synthetic hormones. So, what can you expect when you undergo hormone therapy?
What Will the Result of Hormone Therapy Be?
The simple answer to the above is you will feel a whole lot better! HRT procedures are non-invasive. They are carried out by trained professionals who will carry out a full consultation in the first instance to determine the best and most effective treatment method for you. The effects of hormone therapy will be felt quite quickly and will get better over time. Here are some of the things you can expect to experience:
- Feeling much better about yourself
- Renewed sexual interest
- Better sleep patterns
- Less anxiety
- Better concentration levels
- More enthusiasm for life
- Regained confidence.
Again, that’s not comprehensive but will give you an idea of some of the effects of hormone therapy. You will need to have repeat procedures as the effect is not permanent, but as it is a non-invasive procedure it is over quickly and you can usually return to work the same day, Let’s finish with a few final words.
Should I Have Hormone Therapy?
Be aware that most of the symptoms of hormone therapy can also be a result of other conditions, some of which may be dangerous. If you are suffering any of the symptoms mentioned or believe you have a hormone imbalance, make an appointment right away and get a diagnosis.