There is SO much for us to learn about our hormones! This is part one in a brief overview about their importance in our daily lives, how to keep them balanced and at the same time improve our sexual lives.
There are over 50 known hormones in our body and they regulate cell function, influence cellular activity and are chemical messengers. They do this best when they are “balanced”. When hormones are NOT balanced, things happen in small or BIG ways. Imbalances occur due to internal and external factors.
- Made in ovaries, adrenal glands and some fat cells
- 3 types: Estrone, Estradiol, Estriol
- Formation of female secondary characteristics, stimulates endometrial growth
- Maintains skin and blood vessels, increases bone formation, involved with protein synthesis, coagulation, lipid (fats) function, sodium and water balance and gastrointestinal function
- Link between increased Cortisol levels (stress hormone) and increased fat cells which increases levels of Estrogens (can cause Estrogen Dominance)
Low Estrogen may cause:
- Brain fog
- Painful intercourse
- Recurring urinary tract infections
- Urinary incontinence
- Vaginal dryness
- Thinning of vaginal wall
- Low Libido
Any of these sound familiar?
Progesterone is a very critical hormone, often underestimated in importance!
- Produced mostly by the ovaries and adrenal glands
- Regulates menstrual cycle and maintains a pregnancy
- Assists in thyroid function, bone building, relaxes smooth muscle, anti- inflammatory, regulates immune response, reduces gallbladder activity, normalizes blood clotting, zinc and copper levels use of fat stores for energy, helps promote quality sleep!
- Regulates effects of estrogen
Low progesterone may cause:
- Anxiety & Sleep problems
- Difficulty handling stress
- Elevated Cortisol levels
- Estrogen dominant conditions
- Heavy periods
- Low bone density
- Water retention
- Abdominal weight gain
- Makes testosterone and estrogen
- Peaks in our late 20’s then decreases steadily
- Increased Cortisol levels (stress)cause a decrease in DHEA
- Considered to be anti- aging in some studies
- Essential to sex drive, maintains muscle, bones, skin, and the heart in women
- Produced mainly in the ovaries and much of it is converted to estradiol
- BCP decreases testosterone
Low testosterone/DHEA may cause:
- High Cortisol
- Loss of strength, stamina
- Low or NO sex drive
- Memory decline
- Muscle wasting and weakness
- Sleep problems
- Vaginal dryness
As we enter into perimenopause our hormones fluctuate and eventually decline with menopause and as you can see from the lists above in the possible symptoms with low hormone levels, getting our hormones balanced can really assist us in feeling like ourselves once again! There are a few options available to those who chose to treat low hormone levels.
I do NOT ever recommend using synthetic hormones (HRT) such as Premarin and Provera, however, I DO recommend both natural supplements and Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement (BHRT).
I personally use and recommend the femMED line of natural, quality supplements. In particular, many of my clients find Breast Health, Hormonal Balance and Menopause Relief have really improved the quality of their lives and helped balance their hormones while reducing the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.
I also use and recommend BHRT for those who would like to restore their hormone levels, naturally, working collaboratively with an Integrative Physician.
Bio-identical Hormone Therapy
Definition: Replica of the hormones made in our bodies, molecularly “natural” hormones.
There is no toxification of the liver and no adverse side effects if the doses are correct. Suzanne Somers popularized them in her book, “The Sexy Years”; they were not used much in North America because of our reliance on pharmaceuticals.
All Bioidentical hormones originate from either soy or diosgenin (wild yam) plant sterols that are put through steps in a lab to become a hormone that is identical to the hormones manufactured by the body. Compounding pharmacies are key to correct formulation of your hormones, after a thorough hormone panel is done.
Expect and insist on a collaborative relationship with your health provider!!! It is YOUR body. Be Your Own Advocate.
Be patient: it will take time to determine the exact right doses for YOU.
The goal is OPTIMUM health and vitality- nutrition, supplements, and exercise play important roles.
Effects on Your Libido
Women of all ages complain of sexual problems, however, hormonal imbalances and deficiencies can really contribute to sexual issues and exacerbate previously existing ones. In one national survey, about a third of women 18 to 59 said they had experienced loss of desire for at least a few months in the previous year. In fact, sexual desire is driven by more than hormones — the quality of your relationship, your upbringing, how you feel about your body, the amount of stress in your life and even how well you sleep can all factor in. NOTE, however, that our hormones also affect many of these factors. It is true that sex changes at menopause. You may need more time and more stimulation to get aroused (that’s also true for men at midlife). Dryness can be particularly problematic, but a good lubricant (try Silk) can help with that.
That legendary menopausal crankiness, which does not help with getting in the mood, is often caused by hot flashes and sleep problems. Try femMED Sleep to help restore deep and restful sleeps. Stress also affects mood. At midlife, many women are coping with teenagers, elderly parents or keeping a job in this tough economy — or some combination. Moods are particularly sensitive to hormonal changes.
Some health benefits of regular sex include:
Less STRESS (thank you Oxytocin, the hormone of love!), more youthful appearance, longer life, stronger muscles, clearer thinking, stronger relationships, stronger immunity, improved heart health….just to name a few!
A few ideas to help get back into the mood for love:
- Try yoga and other sports to increase body awareness
- Experiment with your sex life. Different rooms, lotions (CHECK OUT NURU OIL – WOW!), sex toys, spice it up, dance, mingle, flirt, embrace sexuality!
- Lubricants can be fun!
- Be sexy, loving to yourself and partner
- Sexy environment
- Touch and affection
- Try a libido supplement like femMED Libido
Put yourself into the driver’s seat of your own health! Be empowered and knowledgeable to make your own, informed decisions about your body, mind and spirit. You matter.