Hormones are integral to our general health as well as the health of our skin, reproductive system, weight, and even our mental health. Hormone expert, Dr Martin Kinsella, bioidhealth is keen to quash the misconception that they’re only an issue for people of menopausal age. With figures suggesting that 80% of women will experience a hormone imbalance in their lifetime, it’s vital that we all prioritise hormone health.
‘A lot of people don’t realise how important hormones are for practically every aspect of our health,’ explains Dr Martin Kinsella. ‘Which is why it’s vital that awareness of hormone health is raised and people begin to prioritise it, whatever our age.’
‘Hormones are essential chemicals in the body that regulate a whole host of different processes,’ explains Dr Martin Kinsella. ‘They’re well known for affecting our fertility, menstrual cycle and moods. Hormone fluctuations take place during menopause and can affect women dramatically and in many ways.’
Signs you might have a hormone imbalance
‘In addition to the more well-known side effects of hormone imbalances there are a number of much less known symptoms that can be a side of a hormone imbalance,’ explains Dr Martin Kinsella. These include;
• Itchy skin that feels like something is crawling on it
‘Hormones help to regulate the moisture levels of your tissue and stimulate collagen
Production If your hormone levels are imbalanced the amount of collagen and oils that moisten the skin drop and so skin becomes dry and irritated.’
•Bleeding gums/gum problems
‘The hormones oestrogen and progesterone can affect the health of your gums.
These are produced during particular stages of the menstrual cycle and as a result can make gums more susceptible to infection and bleeding at certain times of the month. You may notice that your gums are more likely to bleed during your period or the week after, this is because high levels of progesterone are released during your period, as well as a few days before and after. So the bleeding gums, gum swelling, soreness etc are signs of your body fighting inflammation and they are most obvious when your immune system is being strengthened by progesterone. Oestrogen does the opposite to the immune system and suppresses it, which is why symptoms such as bleeding gums will reduce during the middle of your menstrual cycle.’
•Thinning hair on the head
‘Levels of the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone fall during menopause and testosterone increases. This affects hair follicles and causes the hair to thin as well as to become finer in texture.’
• Increased facial hair
‘As women age they often notice increased facial hair.
During the menopause estrogen levels decline while testosterone levels and other
androgens rise. This can lead to more hair growing on the face and body. Fortunately there are now lots of effective treatments that can permanently remove unwanted hair such as laser treatments.’
•Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
‘In the last decade there has been more research about how hormones can affect the central and peripheral nerves. Low estradiol for example is thought to be responsible for confusion in transmitting sound signals from the ear to the brain. For this reason a hormone imbalance could be the cause of ringing in the ears, also known as Tinnitus.’
‘The fluctuation of hormones such as oestrogen can result in a range of unexpected symptoms. Oestrogen is one of the hormones that contribute to regulating water levels in your body. As you go through the menopause the levels of oestrogen in your body will continually drop, affecting your fluid balance. Dehydration can result in brittle nails. In addition to menopause this can happen at various times of your life such as during pregnancy or if there is a problem with your hormone levels for another reason.’
‘As women get older their oestrogen levels drop. Oestrogen is the hormone that keeps your bladder and urethra healthy and as a as a result of this drop, the pelvic floor muscles can become weak. This is particularly common for women who are approaching or experiencing the menopause but fortunately there are now a range of non-surgical treatments available to help with these symptoms.’
•Changes in body odour
‘Women who are experiencing hormonal fluctuations can often experience changes in the severity and smell of their body odour. When oestrogen levels drop the body often mistakenly thinks it’s overheating and this can result in excess sweating, which can contribute to the odour.’
‘When you experience stress your cortisol level (a steroid hormone) increases. This slows down the body’s ability to make testosterone. The increased cortisol combined with the lowered testosterone makes many people feel more anxious.’
‘Oestrogen causes your body to retain water, which can lead to bloating. Bloating is different to weight gain and not to be mistaken. The difference is that bloating often causes sudden changes, for example at different times of the day such as after meals. Weight gain doesn’t usually cause such quick changes.’
How to treat a hormone imbalance
‘The symptoms that can come about as a result of hormones changes can be frightening and isolating for many women,’ explains Dr Martin Kinsella bioidhealth ‘So the key to breaking these taboos is raising awareness so that women know that treatment and help are available.
‘Hormone mapping is an extremely effective way to identify a hormone imbalance so that treatment can then be sought. At BioID hormone mapping begins with a blood test in order to identify if hormone levels are out of balance. This is followed by a consultation where the blood test results are discussed, and a bespoke program if bio-identical hormones will be prescribed to rebalance hormones.
‘There are also steps that can be taken at home to encourage hormone health. These include;
· Taking steps to reduce stress
‘Stress causes the body to release the hormone cortisol, which is produced by the adrenal glands and adrenaline,’ explains The Hormone Doctor, Dr Martin Kinsella. ‘Too much stress causes too much cortisol to be produced which can result in a hormone imbalance. Taking up hobbies sch as yoga, meditation or even walking can help to reduce stress and aid hormone balancing.’
· Get more sleep
‘Sleep affects the levels of a number of hormones including leptin and ghrelin, which control hunger and fullness. A lack of sleep has been linked to the hormones that affect stress and so your mood can dip and you can feel more stressed if you’re not getting enough sleep.’
· Look at your diet
‘Consuming lots of processed and sugary foods can affect your hormones, resulting in mood dips. Eating a healthy balanced diet is key to maintaining hormone balance. It’s also advisable to reduce or cut out yeast because this plays havoc with hormones.’
Dr Martin Kinsella is a bioidentical hormone specialist offering bespoke treatments. Visit bioidhealth.com.