Your ovaries are a complex system. They create three different hormones that help your body: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. When one or multiple of these hormones are out of balance, your body won’t feel up to speed. There are many reasons why your hormones become unbalanced including disease, infection, and medication.
The most common reason for a hormone imbalance is aging. As you move into menopause your hormone levels begin to taper off, starting with estrogen, then progesterone, and, finally, testosterone. We understand that hormone imbalance can be uncomfortable which is why we provide treatment options for the various symptoms you may be experiencing.
The estrogen receptors throughout your body rely on a high saturation of estrogen. When the receptors in your brain, heart, and other essential organs don’t receive enough estrogen, your body may not function healthily. If your natural estrogen levels are low, you will need estrogen replacement therapy. Estrogen pills, patches, transdermal gels, and vaginal creams can help your estrogen levels increase to what they should be.
Estrogen aids our bodies in several ways. First, it thickens the uterus lining for pregnancy. Estrogen also helps to break down calcium, keeping your bones strong. When estrogen levels lower, there is a much higher risk for osteoporosis. Estrogen also helps maintain cholesterol levels and keeps the vagina healthy. Reduced or fluctuating levels of estrogen also cause menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings.
Your body generally produces a type of estrogen called estradiol. The reason your estrogen level decreases during menopause is because your body starts producing a weaker version of estrogen. During menopause, your adrenal glands begin to produce estrone, which is about ten times weaker than estradiol.
Your estrogen level also decreases during pregnancy. During pregnancy, your body continues to produce estradiol, but it is about 100 times weaker than normal estradiol. Postpartum depression is the result of low estrogen. At our office, we can treat postpartum depression by giving small doses of estrogen until symptoms resolve.
Specific to the uterus, progesterone brings both menstruations every month and regulates pregnancy. Sometimes, overactive progesterone will fight for open estrogen receptors. This hormonal imbalance is yet another reason why you may need hormone replacement therapy.
Women usually take progesterone in combination with estrogen if they still have a uterus. When estrogen is taken without progesterone, it could increase the risk of cancer in the uterine wall (endometrium). Women who have had a hysterectomy generally don’t need to take progesterone along with estrogen therapy.
Generally, testosterone is used to increase your libido. If you have experienced a decrease in libido, taking a small amount of testosterone could help. Though it is not as commonly prescribed as estrogen, testosterone is an important hormone for women.
In next week’s blog, we will be talking about your options for hormone replacement therapy. We know that irregular hormones can cause uncomfortable and undesirable symptoms. If you’re looking for answers, please give us a call at (530) 345-0064, extension 281.