Understanding Hormone Optimization
Throughout life, everyone experiences hormonal changes in their bodies including growth, puberty, for women: pregnancy, and nursing; aging with perimenopause, menopause, and in men: andropause and other hormonal factors. Environmental elements such as pollution affect our surroundings and impact hormone production through chemical mediators and even medications, vitamins, and supplements that can impact our hormone production. The endocrine system is responsible for this activity and is made up of organs and glands that secrete hormones throughout the body.
As we age, these systems begin to slow down and change due in large part because of damage or illness. These changes alter how well we function, and we lack hormone optimization. The Sunridge team knows that hormones can often be the biggest cause of “just feeling off,” and serious diseases that our patients experience. So, we examine hormone levels circulating in the blood, the patient’s ability to bind those hormones and put them to work in the body, hormone metabolism, and other issues including the response of the tissue in the body and the ability to respond to hormones.
Aging and Hormones
The aging process affects nearly every part of our body, but one area that often becomes less active with time is our pituitary gland. Located in your brain and responsible for producing growth hormone which helps control cells throughout life as the pituitary ages over years this can cause problems with signaling continuity and wellness and means certain functions might not work quite right anymore.
These can be genetic programs that malfunction or an inability to produce all necessary chemicals for health. As growth hormone levels fall there can be a decrease in lean muscle, weight gain, and an introduction of osteoporosis. We know hormone changes and aging affect women, and their ovaries resulting in menopause, usually between 50 and 55 years of age. In menopause, the ovaries end production of estrogen and progesterone and the lifetime supply of eggs ends.
Sex and Hormones
Hormones control the sex drive of men and women, and libido is affected by illness and aging. Often thinking about hormones and sex makes us mindful of hormone replacement therapy that is used to help with hot flashes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. But balanced hormones increase desire, arousal, and vaginal lubrication which are part of an enjoyable sex life.
Men also are managed by their testosterone levels and when these are low there is an effect on libido and can result in erectile dysfunction. Additionally, mood especially irritability can manifest, and low testosterone levels may result in depression. Physical symptoms include a loss of muscle mass, an inability to build muscle, and a reduction of overall strength.
Hormones and Chronic Illness
Chronic diseases and other conditions affect endocrine system function in several ways. The complex network of organs and tissues work together to produce, control, or monitor the body’s natural energy. The metabolizing of hormones is a delicately balanced system and when it goes wrong this trouble may be caused by infections, autoimmune disorders when the immune system turns against the body and causes damage, accidental injuries, birth defects or genetic disorders, endocrine gland disease, and treatment from radiation and chemotherapy.
Environment and Hormones
Chemicals, toxins, and pollutants can affect hormone-binding globulin and hormones directly. This can result in birth defects and poor or over-sexual development. A decrease in the immune response due to pollutants in our air, water, and food can have a negative impact on hormones. It is important to remember that hormones are not all related to sex but to growth, aging, and wellness.
Stress and Hormones
All of us are guilty of not wanting to believe the control our minds have over our wellness, but there are too many studies to ignore that mental stressors affect everything from our kidneys to our liver to our heart and our hormonal system. The fact is real that our flight or fight response is still at work in our bodies regardless of how much we have evolved.
Even if we don’t fear a tiger chasing us but instead fear getting fired if we don’t complete a project correctly our adrenal glands release adrenal and make more cortisol. If we make the adrenals work too much because of ongoing stress they can stop producing enough cortisol which results in adrenal insufficiency and can present real danger which should concern us.