Women: Do You have a Hormonal Imbalance?

Women: Do You have a Hormonal Imbalance?

Women: Do you have night sweats? Tired all the time? Can’t seem to recall that important information as easily? It actually could be due to a hormonal imbalance! Your hormones regulate a lot about your body and mood, including your reproductive cycle, growth, stress, appetite, and heart rate, so it is essential that they stay in balance.

Women in particular tend to be affected by issues with estrogen, progesterone, growth hormones, cortisol, steroids, and insulin. There are a number of reasons your hormones may be all over the place, though. Here are a few symptoms to keep an eye out for, things that may be causing the imbalance, and when you should go talk to a doctor.

Symptoms of Hormone Imbalances

For women, there are quite a lot of signs that you could be suffering from a hormone imbalance. The symptoms you’re experiencing could help point you to the cause of the health issue. If you’re experiencing several of the symptoms below, you’ll want to talk to your doctor.

  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Night sweats, hot flashes, or excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety or intense stress
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Heart rate and blood pressure changes
  • Skin rashes
  • Dry skin
  • Sensitive to hot or cold
  • Frequent urination
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Infertility
  • Brittle hair
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Deeper voice
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Foggy memory
  • Heavy or irregular periods
  • This includes missed or stopped periods as well as more frequent periods
  • Excessive hair
  • Acne
  • Skin tags
  • Darkening of skin
  • Pain during sex

These are not all of the symptoms you may be experiencing, as there are a wide range of them, but if you have several of these, you could be experiencing a hormonal imbalance.

Causes of a Hormonal Imbalance in Women

Fluctuations in hormones is not something to always be alarmed about as it can be caused by the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or puberty.  Outside of these occurrences, however, imbalances can be caused by a number of factors, including:

Menopause

Usually occurring around the age of 51, menopause is a normal life change where the ovaries stop producing hormones and a woman can no longer get pregnant. Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep issues tend to be common.

Early menopause, perimenopause, and postmenopause can also cause fluctuations in your hormones.

PCOS

PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, can wreak havoc on your hormones and is a very common cause of hormonal issues in women. The short-term consequences of PCOS include skipped menstrual periods, difficulty getting pregnant, excessive hair growth and ovarian cysts. In the long-term, individuals with PCOS have an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Stress

Stress can absolutely take a severe toll on your life, especially if you let it go unchecked, as it triggers cortisol production. Produced in the adrenal gland, cortisol can affect your blood pressure, muscles, and heart rate. You may also notice changes in your menstrual cycle and libido.

Birth Control

Hormonal birth control options (the pill, the shot, the vaginal ring) all work to stop ovulation by suppressing your natural hormone production. If you’re experiencing an increase in migraines, low sex drive, or other issues that seem to have started when you began your birth control, you may want to talk to your with your doctor about non-hormonal birth control options. 

And More

Hormone imbalances in women may also be caused by

  • Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI)
  • Diabetes
  • Eating Disorders
  • Medication
  • Injury
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hyperthyroidism

It’s also important to note that these are not the only causes of hormone imbalances in women and talking to your doctor is essential.

Two women

So What Do You Do if You Have a Hormone Imbalance?

 

The treatment of your hormone imbalance will likely depend on the cause, which can take a little bit to uncover. Your doctor may order a blood work or other tests to help get to the bottom of your imbalance.

Once the cause is identified, you can start on treatment options. Some options include birth control, vaginal estrogen, thyroid hormone therapy, lifestyle changes, and bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (HRT). These solutions can help you with

  • Energy
  • Muscle mass
  • Mood swings
  • Sleep patterns and sleep quality
  • Mental focus
  • Increase sex drive
  • Weight balance or loss

If you think you’re experiencing a hormone imbalance or have a number of the symptoms listed above, it’s important to talk to your doctor sooner rather than later. Getting to the bottom of the cause now can help you live a healthy and happier life in the years to come.

Do you want to explore the benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for your imbalance? There are many convenient treatment options available that will make it easier to get back to “you.” Find out how it works and get in touch with us for assistance. Schedule your free Ready to Feel Good Again Strategy at www.drwoodswellness.com/call or give us a call at 816-888-5200.


7 Must-Know Tips to Improve Your Gut Health

7 Must-Know Tips to Improve Your Gut Health

Have you been experiencing heartburn, bloating, or weight changes that were unplanned? Stomach and abdominal issues such as these and others can point to gut health problems that could be bringing down your quality of life. Here are some signs to look out for and 7 tips to work on improving your gut health today:

Is Your Gut Unhealthy?

There are a number of signs that could be your body trying to tell you your gut health needs a bit of work. Have you experienced any of these? It may be time to take action.

General Stomach Issues

From upset stomach to bloating, there are plenty of unhealthy gut signs that can fall under this category. You may be experiencing constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, or gas. These problems can point to a bigger issue.

Sleep Problems

Do you have issues falling asleep or staying asleep? Sleep disturbances can be a sign of quite a few health issues, but gut health is one of them. A majority of your serotonin is actually produced in the digestive tract (90%!), and this hormone affects mood and sleep.

Even if you’re getting 8 hours of sleep nightly, if you’re feeling fatigued throughout the day, this could be another sign of poor gut health.

Weight Changes

Have you recently put on weight? Lost weight? If these changes were unintended, they could point to gut problems. Your digestive tract is responsible for absorbing nutrients and storing fat, as well as regulating blood sugar. Bacterial problems or insulin resistance resulting from digestive tract issues can cause weight loss or weight gain.

Food Intolerance

Can you no longer eat some of your favorite foods? Whether it’s ice cream, pasta, or coffee, the ability to no longer enjoy these foods without discomfort could mean you have an issue in your gut. Poor amounts or poor quality of bacteria in your digestive tract could be responsible for causing the intolerance and resulting in bloating, pain, nausea, diarrhea, gas, and other intestinal issues.

And More…

A few more signs that you have gut issues include:

  • Inflammation
  • Autoimmune conditions or diseases
  • Skin irritation like eczema
  • Sugar cravings
  • Which in turn, damage your gut further

7 Tips to Improve Your Gut Health

Woman jogging

One of the best things you can do for your overall health is to exercise and exercise regularly.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above, you will definitely want to keep a close eye on your overall gut health. Make sure to follow these tips to improve your digestive tract:

Exercise

One of the best things you can do for your overall health is to exercise and exercise regularly. Walking, biking, yoga, weight lifting – it all gets your colon moving. More regular bowel movements can mean healthier guts.

Change Your Diet

And, of course, along with exercise comes a healthy diet. If you’re having a lot of snacks, candies, sodas, and other unhealthy foods, you may want to cut back. High fructose corn syrup, sugars, high-fat foods and processed foods can wreak havoc on gut health. Instead, focus more on fresh and clean foods such as plant-based options and lean protein.

You’ll also want to be sure you’re eating a diet that is high in fiber, as this can lead to a healthy gut microbiome. The microbiome are all the “bugs” or microorganisms that live in and on the human body--mostly bacteria--they thrive on fiber, among other healthy foods. 

The American Heart Association recommends getting in 25-30 grams of fiber daily from the foods you eat. Also, along with adding fiber to your diet, make sure you’re cutting out foods you seem to have an intolerance for, especially when having active gut symptoms.

Change How You Eat

It’s not all about what you eat – but also how you eat. Do you eat in a hurry? Do you eat as much as you can in one meal? Eating smaller meals can help the absorption of nutrients and also keep gut discomfort to a minimum. Try chewing your food thoroughly and slowly to help the digestive process as well.

Follow a Sleep Routine

Do you sometimes go to bed at 8pm and other nights at 1am? This could be causing some of your health issues, including problems with your gut. You’ll want to make sure you’re getting 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Catching up on it on the weekend doesn’t work!

Drink a Lot of Water

Another habit that is great for your overall health, including your gut health, is drinking plenty of water. The amount of water recommended is a little more than what you may be thinking. Traditionally, we’ve been taught to recommend 64 ounces of water daily. However, the Institute of Medicine actually recommends a minimum of 101 ounces (approximately 13 cups) daily for men and 74 ounces (approximately 9 cups) minimum for women. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (about 125 ounces) of fluids for men and 11.5 cups (about 91 ounces) of fluids a day for women. Getting in an adequate amount of fluid will help with the lining of your digestive track and work to balance the microbiome.

Take Probiotics

A simple step that can do wonders for your digestive tract is to take probiotics. The most common fermented foods that naturally contain probiotics, or have probiotics added to them, include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sourdough bread and some cheeses. Because dairy and gluten-containing products can be inflammatory for many, I recommend you start with the non-dairy and gluten-free food choices first. 

You may also want to opt for supplements as a source of probiotics. This is especially the case if you’re taking or have recently taken antibiotics. Antibiotics usually don’t tell the difference between good bacteria and bad bacteria, killing off both, and it can lead to problems with your microbiome.

A word on probiotics and supplements in general…

Be sure to get the highest quality supplement you can--this is a general rule for any supplement you take. It may not be cheap. But in this instance, the saying that “you get what you pay for” is true. At least go a step above your local drug store and get supplements from a place that specializes in health and nutrition or get them from your healthcare provider. Because each probiotic supplement has a different blend of good bacteria, it is best to rotate between 2-3 different probiotics, changing every 3-4 months. 

Watch Your Stress Levels

Stress causes more havoc on our bodies than most people realize. Whether you’re stressed from work, life, or something else, monitoring your anxiety levels is essential for good gut health (and strong overall health). Meditation, exercise, massages, hanging out with friends, yoga, and therapy are all great ways to get on top of your stress. Find what works for you and stick with it!

It’s not always obvious what’s causing a gut health issue, but the seven healthy habits mentioned here can help minimize any potential issues you’re having. However, if you’re following these tips and still having problems, or the discomfort is particularly bad, don’t hesitate to reach out to a doctor. It could be signs of more serious issues that need medical assistance or medication.

Are you having trouble with gut issues? Have you tried to address it on your own but not seeing much improvement? Let us help. Find out how we can help. Simply schedule your free consultation with us here. We call this the Ready to Feel Good Again Strategy Call--because it is possible for you to feel good again and we are so excited to partner with you on your health journey! 

 


What to Do When The Doctor Says Nothing is Wrong

What to Do When The Doctor Says Nothing is Wrong

The test results have come back normal.

The doctor says nothing is wrong, and you couldn’t be more disappointed.

At first glance, this seems odd! Who wouldn’t want to be told that they’re healthy?

I understand that there is a little more going on than meets the eye.

Perhaps it has been weeks, perhaps months or even years. You can’t quite remember when you started feeling like this, you just know that it’s been a long time.

You try the occasional diet plan or supplement, blaming yourself for not feeling 100%. It’s in a moment of exhaustion, wide awake at 4 am with a racing mind and aches and pains, that you finally work up the courage to go to see a doctor and admit that you really don’t think you’re very well.

So that ‘normal’ test result? Does that mean that feeling tired, achy, stressed and blue is just the new normal for you?

Absolutely not.

How can you move forward if the test results aren’t answering your questions?

Doctor Says Nothing is Wrong: But Was It The Right Test for You?

The first thing we need to talk about?

Understanding what our doctors are there for.

Modern, western medicine is a little bit like a firefighting team. The system works as follows:

  •  Patient feels unwell
  • Doctor analyses symptoms
  • Doctor gives treatment according to the symptoms
  • Symptoms are relieved (sometimes!)

When you come and see a doctor with a fully-developed disease or infection? The body is full of signs. When are firefighters called to a house? It’s already on fire.

You aren’t feeling well, and you have decided it’s time to do something about it. If you go to the doctors and the tests are normal? That doesn’t mean your health is optimal! That means that your symptoms aren’t bad enough to show up on a scale that would diagnose you as ill.

Does this make sense so far?

Take your ‘normal’ test results, and know that you aren’t yet at the ‘very sick’/’house is on fire’ end of the spectrum.

You now need to consult someone who can take more detailed, different tests, and create a much larger picture of what is happening in your body right now.

That person is a functional medicine specialist.

If Western medicine is about diagnosing disease, then functional medicine is about preventing it.

Just because the doctor says nothing is wrong? Doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t see amazing results from taking more detailed tests, and building a strategy to get your health and well-being up to a far higher level.

Oh, but if the doctor says I’m fine then I must be making a big deal out of something small. I should just keep going and stop complaining.

If this is your thought process right now, I want you to acknowledge it and toss it aside!

Understand that just because the doctor’s tests say you aren’t currently afflicted with something, that doesn’t mean that you’re making things up.
Listen to your body - it’s trying to tell you that if something is wrong, even if it isn’t yet wrong ‘enough’ to show up in a test used by a primary medical care specialist to diagnose illness.

What about imbalance? That can make you feel pretty rough, too.

Take a deep breath, and let’s talk about doing the right tests for you at the right time. Let’s talk about all the things that slip under the radar of a ten-minute doctor appointment. Let’s figure out exactly what’s going on in your body, and together, we can write a plan to support and improve your symptoms.

This kind of preventative health care isn’t self-indulgent, it’s smart. In the workplace, you wouldn’t choose to ignore the problems which are building up.

Don’t do it with your health.