Assessment of Hormone Levels is Critical to Balancing Hormones
What are Hormones?
What are hormones? This may be a question you have asked yourself. Your doctor may mention your thyroid or your sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone. Occasionally they will even refer to the stress hormone cortisol. But if you have not had any previous association with hormones, the discussion of hormones can leave you baffled. However, it is important to know that hormones are vital components to your health and that adequate assessment of them can be the difference between feeling good or dragging through the day.
In short, hormones are chemical messengers. They are produced within our body from specific hormone secreting glands, where they then proceed to enter the blood stream and influence activity in various tissues. They have a very distinct role in the body. This is the primary reason that many symptoms can be associated with a specific hormone. When hormones are imbalanced, they lead to a multitude of symptoms that can make life seem miserable. Just ask any female that deals with PMS if she enjoys this time of the month. PMS is an indication of imbalanced hormones, but it is also a testament to the power of hormones.
Clearly no one wants to feel hormonal or like their hormones are out of balance. Hormone balance is critical to life. There are many proposed ways in which to support hormones, but all of these should have a similar starting point. This point should be assessment of hormone levels. Hormone level assessment is critical due to the need to have a measure of the success of intervention. I often see patients in my Houston clinics that have undergone no form of hormone level assessment, only to be placed on a replacement regimen without first being sure of their particular needs. Such actions can be detrimental long term as hormone levels can build up in the system. Many times this leads to low hormone symptoms. This can seem paradoxical until you realize that often low and high hormone levels symptoms overlap each other.
There is a better way and that is through testing. Testing hormone levels is a critical step in the balancing of hormones. Hormone levels can be tested through saliva, urine and blood. Each method has its benefits and weaknesses. The critical aspect however is that with testing you are able to outline a specific repletion program based on your individual needs rather than simply applying a hormone to a particular symptom or state of dysfunction. I am still amazed at the amount of estrogen I see recommended in light of the evidence suggesting that estrogen therapy alone is not a good idea, at least not without proper hormone level assessment to know that it is being balanced with progesterone. Women commonly tell me of symptoms such as chronically itching skin, weight gain, a full feeling in the legs and increased irritability. All of these are indications of excess estrogen. The important point is that they could all have been avoided if proper hormone level assessment had been considered.
Hormones are vital to life. We need them. However, we need them in adequate amounts. The application of hormone replacement therapy is a viable method to reestablish adequate levels, yet if it is not guided by hormone level assessment, overshooting the level of hormones administered can easily take place. Nevertheless, when properly guided by hormone level assessment, application of hormones can be a difference maker in your life offering you a sense of health and wellness.