Change is inevitable, and when it comes to our bodies, change starts to happen as soon as we are born. Over time, we will grow taller, we’ll have more control over our limbs, we’ll go through puberty, and women will go through menopause. All of these changes are due in some part (big or small) to hormones.
Two of the most important hormones that are produced, at least when it comes to physical development, are estrogen and testosterone, with estrogen being the dominant female hormone, and testosterone being the dominant male hormone.
Over time, a variety of different factors, including age, can mean that these hormones become unbalanced, and that can have a wide range of different physical and psychological problems associated with it. It could be that, when this happens, the answer is hormone replacement therapy, something that is offered very successfully at Impressions Skin Solutions in Hendersonville. Read on to discover what some of the signs are that you might need hormone replacement therapy so you can get help as soon as possible and put your life back on track.
Something that can often come about due to a lower production level of hormones is a low libido. If you are no longer interested in sexual activity and you don’t seem to have any sex drive at all, it is likely to be something to do with your hormones. Of course, it should be noted that interest in sex is something that wanes over time, and as you get older it is usual to find that your libido has decreased. However, if this has happened suddenly rather than gradually, and especially if it is causing you unhappiness or issues in your relationship, it might be that hormone replacement therapy is the answer. Discussing your options with a professional is the best step to take initially; hormone replacement therapy should never be self-prescribed. Something else that is related to this lack of libido is dryness in the vagina. Even if you do have the desire to have sex, it can be virtually impossible because of this dryness which, as well as making sex difficult, can also cause uncomfortable itching and swelling.
Mood swings – one moment being up and the next down – are a big sign that hormone replacement therapy could be the next step for you to take. Hormones are responsible for regulating mood, just as they are responsible for regulating most other functions of the body, and if your mood changes within seconds and you can never pinpoint why, your hormones could hold the key. Or rather, a lack of hormones. The problem with mood swings as a symptom of hormone deficiency is that patients don’t always recognize it, especially if their moods have always been subject to some changes. Most patients will be looking for physical changes rather than emotional ones, which is why it is often missed. Mood swings, irritability, or perhaps even symptoms of depression, could in fact be signs that you are deficient in some hormones, however, and should never be ignored. Even if they have been part of you for as long as you can remember, that may just mean that you have always had a hormone imbalance that can be fixed.
Perhaps one of the most famous signs that you need hormone replacement therapy is hot flashes. Older women, in particular, will have experienced this, and it is a big part of popular culture, from comedies to dramas. A hot flash is one of the most uncomfortable elements of menopause (which, as we’ve already discussed, is a prime example of when hormone replacement therapy can be utilized advantageously) because the hormones that regulate body temperature are no longer strong enough to work one hundred percent of the time, every now and then the body will heat up dramatically, making it almost unbearable for the sufferer. As unpleasant as this is, it can be handled through hormone replacement therapy, and even if this is the only reason you want to look further into HRT, it will be worth it.
As mentioned above, one of the functions of your hormones is to regulate body temperature. We naturally heat up at night – it helps us to sleep for longer and more deeply as we feel more comfortable – but if our hormones are no longer able to keep control of this temperature rise, it can cause not only hot flashes but night sweats too. In other words, you will wake in the night soaked in sweat. Firstly, this is uncomfortable. Secondly, it’s unpleasant. Thirdly, if someone else sleeps in the same bed as you, it is going to disturb their sleep. And finally, it will disturb your sleep too. The body will assume something is wrong so it will wake you up, meaning that your sleep is broken, and that can lead to health issues all by itself, not to mention having to get out of bed to get changed.
Not all weight gain is hormonal, of course, but some of it certainly is, and if you suddenly find that you are gaining – especially around the middle – then it is wise to seek advice from a hormone replacement specialist.
This kind of weight gain used to be known as ‘middle-aged spread’ and was thought to be just a natural part of getting older. However, it has been shown that it is due to a hormone deficiency rather than anything else, and therefore, with hormone replacement therapy, it can be halted (although reversing it is a different matter and will require exercise).
Think back to your 20s and you’ll probably start to realize just how much more energy you had back then. Although there would have been many reasons for this, one of those reasons is almost certainly because you were producing more hormones than you are now. When your hormone levels start to dip, you’ll start to slow down and even feel fatigued a lot of, perhaps most of, the time. Although studies are still ongoing in this area, the likely reason is that your body has to work harder to produce hormones, and that means you’ll be more tired. It also means that you might not sleep so well, since hormones tend to be produced at night, and when your body is working extra hard, sleep can be difficult.
THINNING HAIR AND DRY SKIN
If you notice that your hair is starting to become thinner, or that your skin is much drier than it ever used to be – or both (which is highly likely), your hormones are probably to blame. In the worst cases, you may even lose your hair, or it could become very patchy. The good news is that, assuming these issues are due to your hormones being imbalanced, once you start hormone replacement therapy you’ll find that your skin returns to normal and your hair should start to grow back. Of course, this can’t be guaranteed, but even if you don’t return to how you were, once you start HRT you won’t be getting any worse, at least.
BONE DENSITY LOSS
Along with vitamin D and, most notably, calcium, estrogen is responsible for ensuring your bones stay as healthy and strong as possible. This means that, when your levels of estrogen start to fall, you can experience bone density loss. Bone density loss means that your bones will become weaker, and it might be easier to damage or break them. If you’ve ever wondered why seniors tend to break hips or other bones much more than younger people, lack of bone density is the answer.
Although you can top up your bone density with additional calcium and vitamin D, if you are still lacking estrogen you’ll find you have problems. When undergoing hormone replacement therapy, your bone density can be improved, helping you to be active for much longer.
DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
As mentioned above, emotional issues can be as much a part of hormone deficiency as physical ones, even though they can often be overlooked. Depression and anxiety are common symptoms of a lack of hormones, and the effects of these mental health disorders can be extremely long-lasting, needing therapy and medication for many years.
Although hormone replacement therapy is not something that can ‘cure’ depression and anxiety, it is something that can help with the symptoms, enabling people to go about their daily lives much more easily.
Brain fog might sound like a strange term, but it’s actually something that is well-known, if not entirely understood. Brain fog is really a term that includes memory issues and general forgetfulness, perhaps characterized as absent-mindedness, and it’s something that a hormone imbalance will bring about. When you start hormone replacement therapy, your brain fog should clear up, and your memory will improve. It might even help you to keep your brain more active as you get older, and this is important when it comes to retaining cognitive ability.