You passed puberty with its ups and downs, so now you think you are all set with no more worries until you hit menopause sometime in your 50-ies.
You are partially right. In a perfect world you should be able to enjoy the prime years of your life in perfect hormonal balance.
Reality check – we live in a fast paced world where we are proud to be called “superwoman”. Stress at work, stress at home, stressful relationships, stress stress stress…
Short periods of stress are OK, our bodies are designed to deal with that by the “fight and flight” reaction. But when we are in a chronic “fight and flight” state, our hormonal reactions change.
The most common complaint starting at age 30 is I AM TIRED and DEPRESSED. We have a tendency to blame long work days for this or think that “I am getting old”.
But really your hormones and especially your thyroid hormones are to blame. Thyroid disorders are among the most common medical conditions. However, because their symptoms often appear gradually, the condition is often misdiagnosed, according to Dr. Nila Vora, a board-certified endocrinologist at the Loyola Primary Care Center in Darien.
None of us wake up each day thinking “I wonder how my thyroid gland is doing today?”, unless of course you suffer from the many symptoms of an underactive thyroid such as fatigue, cold hands and feet, weight gain, constipation, depression, hair loss, lack of motivation, excessive sleeping and so on. People with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) may experience heart palpitations, increased pulse rate, nervousness, insomnia and night sweats.
The American Thyroid Association recommends that all adults be tested beginning at age 35 and then every five years thereafter. Older adults, especially women older than 50, those with a strong family history of the thyroid disorder, rheumatoid arthritis and type I diabetes also should be tested.
One in eight women will experience thyroid disorders during their lifetime, according to the National Women’s Health Information Center.
In a cross-sectional study of 2,779 subjects of the community of Whickham, North East England, the prevalence of newly diagnosed overt hypothyroidism was 3 per 1000 women. In the Whickham survey, the prevalence of undiagnosed thyrotoxicosis was 5 per 1000 women and none in men. The symptoms of thyroid disease can be relatively non-specific and one of the first things every woman should ask their GP is to check thyroid function if you are not feeling 100%.
Starting at 30 years of age, progesterone in women’s body starts to drop more than estrogen. If we are experiencing chronic stress and poorly balanced diet plus exposure to daily toxins, the gap between estrogen and progesterone deepens and woman often develop ”estrogen dominance”.
Estrogen balance is directly related to progesterone. Excess estrogen can even hamper the conversion of the inactive thyroid hormone T4 to the active thyroid hormone of T3 causing a functional hypothyroid condition. So all of the sudden, we go from a perfect state of body-mind balance to hormonal ups and downs.
Estrogen is the hormone that most defines you as a woman. But excess estrogen = depressed and chunky.
While age is the cause of some of these challenges (think: menopause), your menstrual cycle, thyroid issues and diabetes can also be the issue. Even more commonly, medication such as birth control pills can also throw off your body’s chemistry. In addition, pregnancy frequently causes a shift in your hormonal balance.
So how do you know when your hormones have gone awry?
Hormonal imbalances in women usually present themselves as irregular or heavy bleeding vaginally, or infertility. Extreme changes in mood during certain times of every month is another sign of uneven levels of hormones, which can include pre-menstrual syndrome, or even pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder.
Furthermore, anxiety, loss of appetite, insomnia and lack of concentration may also be symptoms in women who may have a hormonal imbalance — along with symptoms such as sudden weight gain, a reduced sex drive, fatigue, digestive problems, hot flashes and night sweats. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have any of these signs.
You are not crazy, it’s your hormones!
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To your health,
~ Vilma B