Thyroid: By the age of 60, about 17% of women and about 9% of men have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. That's just those we know about. Thyroid disease is one of those conditions that seems to go undiagnosed because values look "normal". My position statement is that normal is not necessarily optimal. Plenty of patients that I have come into contact over the years struggled for a long time until they finally found a practitioner that was willing to treat their symptoms outside of the numbers appearing normal. My experience has been that after a hysterectomy, most women should stay on top of thyroid health like never before. Many women will tell you that they had a hysterectomy and then a few years later received the diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Why? The endocrine system is intricately designed with hormone and feedback loops. Upset one thing and something else is going to be affected. Experience has taught me a great deal simply by listening and putting two and two together.
Perimenopause: This period of time for women usually begins in the 40's with about 95% of women seeing this transitional onset into menopause at the ages of 39-51. The average time this stage lasts is about 2-8 years and with it comes a lot of biological changes. Ovarian function changes, menstrual cycles begin to vary, there's less frequent ovulation thereby resulting in lower progesterone production, and the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone all begin to decline. Estrogen production can go low enough that menstrual cycles will cease to exist and after missing 12 periods, a woman is deemed to be in menopause. Just think about a time period of YEARS when describing the changes that take place. This is why I encourage women to test at least in their early 40's so that a benchmark can be established. I personally tested at 37 years old and found some hormonal imbalances that I have addressed ever since. Hormone restoration to youthful years is possible with custom/compounded bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. Yay!
Menopause: Once menopause strikes, the adrenal glands try to pick up the pace to help what's been lost in the function of the ovaries. Androstenedione, DHEA, and DHEA Sulfate, hormones produced by the adrenal glands, also take a dive resulting in about 70% less production than what the body was used to operating in younger ages. Testosterone production decreases by 25% after menopause. This can bring on loss of vitality, poor stamina, bone loss, loss of lean muscle mass, incontinence and many other things. Even though things decline, the problem really comes into play because of the shift of hormones. The androgen to estrogen ratio becomes significantly more out of balance because of estrogens plummet and there's less conversion of`androstenedione to testosterone. This results in hair thinning and the pesky facial hair and acne that older women complain of. Even with testosterones decline, there's still not enough estrogen to oppose it.
Okay, so that's part 1. I know there's a lot to process when talking about hormonal imbalance, but the BIG message in all of this, especially if you can relate to the content of this blog, is to assess and address the imbalances. Better sooner, than later.
In Part 2 we will cover insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and metabolism. Stay tuned!
To your good hormone health,