How do these amazing agents affect our health, mood and wellbeing? Depends on your age!
Height, weight, hair color and overall appearance – all of this is determined prior to our birth, when in the mother’s womb, and controlled by tiny chemical substances – hormones. Doctors describe their balance in the human body as our endocrine profile. Unfortunately, this balance is very fragile. Stress, excessive workload, poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep can cause hormonal imbalance leading to various disorders.
20s: when estrogen is soaring…
This is usually caused by a change in estrogen levels. Called a ‘female hormone’, estrogen is responsible for our characteristic features: breasts, body shape and distribution of subcutaneous fat. Estrogen is also responsible for our memory and sexual activity, accelerating cell renewal and protecting blood vessels from cholesterol deposits. Upward surges of estrogen increase sebaceous gland activity and cause skin and hair problems. During this period it is crucial to resist a temptation to get rid of acne by yourself. Turn to your dermatologist for an advice. The doctor will make all necessary tests and prescribe relevant treatment. Adjusting your diet is a must. Do not eat any fatty, smoked or spicy foods. Prefer fresh vegetables and low-sugar fruits and incorporate dairy products into your daily diet.
30s: what is progesterone capable of
Hormonal changes at this age are often associated with pregnancy and breastfeeding. During this period, the body adjusts to carrying a healthy baby. The levels of progesterone markedly affect the capability to conceive a child and influence a normal gestation course. It keeps the uterus in shape to receive a fertilized ovum and stimulates proper development of the fetus. If progesterone levels are abnormal, you might face conception problems or a pregnancy loss. Another important function of progesterone is the preparation of breasts for lactation. In addition, it is responsible for emotional stability in the second half of the menstrual cycle. If levels of this hormone in blood are insufficient, we experience irritation and depression. Normalizing progesterone levels is possible only by taking medication. Depending on the problem the doctor might prescribe synthetic progesterone pills. Progesterone imbalance may be caused by a thyroid gland disorder. At the beginning, malfunction of this organ manifests itself through unreasonable irritability, tearfulness and fatigue. Therefore, at this age it is advisable to undergo a thyroid gland ultrasound examination once a year, and, in case of hereditary predisposition towards its disorders, to monitor levels of thyroid hormones. Another diagnostic ladies should have every year at this age is a Mammogram. A thorough breast examination is an essential preventive measure.
40s: everything is under control!
At this age, beauty and health have to be fought for every day: an extra cup of tea at night, nutrition mistakes or a lack of sleep may influence your appearance and well-being! Slower metabolism might lead to weight gain. Hormonal changes in woman’s body can cause depression, apathy, irritability and insomnia. It is important to keep the balance. Regular exercises will keep the hormones under control – long walks and yoga will relieve muscular and emotional tension. Do not forget about check-ups with an endocrinologist and gynecologist.
If you have any symptoms
Do not try to find the cause of a possible hormonal imbalance by yourself. If for several months you have menstrual disorders, are trying to but are not able to conceive a child, experience emotional instability, acrimony, tearfulness or suffer from insomnia, check with your endocrinologist. Appropriate treatment can be chosen only after a thorough assessment, which usually takes 2-3 menstrual cycles. In case of minor abnormalities, they can be stabilized.
• In order to check your endocrine profile, it is necessary to determine blood levels of hormones. But be careful: hormones are very susceptible to external factors; that’s why an exact time for making a blood test must be checked with your doctor. What else should be taken into account?
• Hormone tests must be done in a fasting state. Prior to testing, refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking and working out.
• Try to calm down! Emotional stress might lead to abnormal results; that’s why tests should be done at rest.
• Do not take any medicine. In order for test results to be accurate, do not take any hormonal medications on the day of your blood test. And make sure you inform your doctor about any medications you are taking.
• Another important point: It is not recommended to undergo blood tests after X-ray study, physiotherapy or instrumental examinations.
Marina Sokolova, MD
AMC Staff Gynecologist