Estrogen hormones help maintain the health of reproductive tissues, breasts, skin and brain. High estrogen levels can cause fluid retention, weight gain, migraines and over stimulation of the breasts, ovaries and uterus. Insufficient estrogen levels can lead to hot flashes, vaginal dryness, rapid skin aging, urinary problems, excessive bone loss and changes in memory/cognition.
Progesterone is a hormone balancer, particularly of estrogens and other steroid hormones. It enhances the beneficial effect of estrogens while preventing problems associated with excessive estrogen. It also supports adrenal function, which regulates stress, and has a calming influence that helps improve sleep, mood, and the ability to stay focused mentally.
The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones, which regulate body temperature, oxygen use, and metabolism. The two most important thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), require selenium, iodine and tyrosine as building blocks and for proper functioning.
Hypothyroidism - when the thyroid gland is under-active and hormones are depleted - can cause appetite loss, chronic fatigue, constipation, depression, dry skin or other skin conditions, hair loss, infections, sensitivity to cold or low body temperature, muscle weakness, weight gain, painful and heavy premenstrual periods.
Hyperthyroidism - when the thyroid gland is over-active - can result in heart palpitations, weight loss, sweating, anxiety, insomnia, trembling hands, muscle weakness, increased bowel movements, changes inmenstrual flow, hair loss, breathlessness, heat intolerance, and osteoporosis (in severe cases).
The adrenal glands control the hormones released during stress. If the adrenal glands are already compromised, then the hormonal imbalance that occurs during perimenopause and menopause will further inhibit their ability to function properly. Symptoms may include fatigue, inability to sleep through the night, anxiety, depression, increased susceptibility to infections, reduced tolerance for stress, craving for sweets and salty foods, allergies to things you were never allergic to before, chemical sensitivities, and a tendency to feel cold.
Cortisol is one of several hormones produced by the adrenal glands. It plays a pivotal role in the hormonal and immune system and is secreted in response to stress in the body, whether real or imagined. Normal healthy levels of cortisol are needed for the body to function optimally, but chronic or repeated stress will cause the body to continually produce higher levels of cortisol. This can cause depletion of reserves and eventually cause adrenal fatigue or "burnout".
DHEA, an important hormone for well-being and vitality, is one of the markers of aging. It is also the source of many sex and steroid hormones in the body. After it is secreted from the adrenal glands it remains as DHEA or is converted into certain hormones the body needs, such as estrogen and testosterone. Our DHEA levels peak between the ages of 20 and 25, and then start to decline. Low levels of DHEA have been associated with immune dysfunction, heart disease, obesity, low libido, mental disturbances, and blood sugar instability.
TESTOSTERONETestosterone plays an important role in women and men. It improves mood and assertiveness, reduces depression and anxiety, improves bone and muscle, maintains muscle size, and enhances sex drive and sexual sensitivity. The decrease of testosterone occurs earlier and initially at a greater rate for women than for men. Special attention is needed for women who have had early menopause or surgical removal of their ovaries.