Hormones are the body’s messengers. These chemicals are secreted by various glands and sent into the blood. The blood transports them to the organs and tissues to make them perform the functions they were designed to do. Hormones and hormone levels change as the body grows and ages, because they are directly related to growth and development. They are also linked to metabolism, mood and sexual function. This means that imbalanced hormones can affect almost every area of life.
Here are some common ways that hormones can interfere with your day-to-day life.
Are you having trouble sleeping? Insomnia does not have to be a normal part of the aging process. Often, insomnia occurs because of hormonal imbalance.
Estrogen is directly related to the ability to sleep. Women can have estrogen deficiencies in menopause. When the body does not produce enough estrogen, it’s difficult to sleep. Testosterone drops, which affects both men and women. Low levels of Testosterone can lead to snoring and sleep apnea, which make sleep less refreshing.
Why is the ability to sleep so important? People who sleep enough have lower cortisol levels. Lower cortisol levels can lead to fewer problems with depression and obesity. Sufficient sleep also lowers the risk of blood pressure problems and diabetes and increases an individual’s productivity.
Fatigue and insomnia seem to go hand in hand, and in some ways they do. Yet hormones can lead to fatigue even when you are getting enough sleep. Two types of hormones can contribute to feelings of fatigue: The adrenal glands, which produce the stress hormone cortisol, are one of these. Increased cortisol levels can lead to feelings of being tired and “wired” at the same time. Thyroid hormones can also lead to feelings of fatigue. When your thyroid hormones are not balanced, you will lack energy and feel fatigued, no matter how much sleep you get.
Why do so many people gain weight as they age? For some it is because they lessen their activity levels, but for many it is actually hormones. Hormones have a direct role to play in the way your metabolism works. When your metabolism slows down, which can happen with a hormone imbalance, you will gain weight. Balancing those hormones can help with weight loss.
Hormones can also create cravings for unhealthy foods. If you are experiencing cravings for sweets or salty, fried foods, you may have a hormone problem on your hands. Finally, some hormones, like cortisol, can lead to excess weight gain in problem areas, like your midsection.
Hormones and anxiety
Are you feeling more stressed than normal? Do you find anxiety levels increasing with no real reason? Hormones could be to blame.
Most people will experience periods of anxiety in their lives. Yet these feelings should not be overwhelming to the point that the individual cannot function. When anxiety levels are reaching that point, then it’s time to look for a reason — especially if there is no outside reason for the anxiety, such as a stressful life situation.
The hormone progesterone has a naturally calming effect. It activates the GABA receptor sites in the brain, which is a calming neurotransmitter, and also suppresses the anxiety response in the brain. When progesterone levels start to shift during and after menopause, the result can be periods of severe anxiety. Panic attacks, which affect the ability to function normally, can also occur when hormones are imbalanced.
Libido, or sex drive, can be impacted by your hormone levels. The Mayo Clinic warns that women can experience changes in their sex drive during menopause. The estrogen levels that drop during this transition lead to a lessened interest in sex. Also, these hormones can make sex uncomfortable for women, as vaginal dryness increases. Lower sex drive combined with discomfort can completely kill libido.
Men can also have this experience, but due to a drop in testosterone rather than estrogen. When testosterone levels drop, which can happen during the aging process, some men find it difficult to get interested in sex, and they may also experience an inability to get or maintain an erection.
This can create serious emotional struggles for couples who used to experience a satisfying sex life. When one partner is no longer interested in sex, it can cause the other partner to wonder what the problem is. This can create tension in an otherwise healthy and supportive relationship.
As you can see, hormones greatly affect the body’s ability to function. From sex drive to anxiety, hormone imbalances affect nearly every area of life. For that reason, hormone health is an important part of life for both men and women. Finding ways to naturally balance hormones is essential to ensuring that life is healthy and fulfilling.
photo: David Amsler / no changes