Hormones regulate every function in our body from building bone strength to helping us cope with stress. From puberty to menopause hormones are constantly fluctuating, which is part of the natural life cycle. However, once a woman reaches the age of 40, hormone levels begin to decline and eventually results in menopause around 50-52 years of age. If hormones go out of balance, then problems can occur and cause a lot of symptoms in your mind and body.
‘Practically every woman at some time in her life has gone through a time in which she has suffered from a hormonal imbalance. The issue is how people respond and how it impacts their life. Women need to seek intervention if it is affecting their life, work and family,’ advises Dr Marion Gluck, one of the UK’s foremost experts in treating hormonal imbalances. ‘We are seeing increased numbers of women suffering from hormonal imbalances and that is due to lifestyle factors, nutrition and long-term use of oral contraception.’
Hormone imbalance is strongly associated with diet, exercise, weight, stress, and the toxins we absorb. In midlife, hormone production is taken over by the adrenal glands and if stress becomes a big part of our lives, the stress hormone cortisol floods the body, progesterone levels get depleted and oestrogen can dominate. This imbalance leads to symptoms such as fatigue, migraines, low mood, weight gain and memory loss among others. Hormonal imbalances are diagnosed through blood tests and saliva tests.
‘Hormones can rule and ruin our lives. Women need to be aware of what is happening to their bodies. Hormone balance is essential for memory and concentration, cardiovascular health and strong bones as well as supporting the body’s ability to maintain health, energy and happiness. We have treated thousands of patients in our clinic and currently see over 100 each week, many of these are new. The most common thing they say is “I just don’t feel like myself anymore” and they are tired, have low moods and fatigue. Many feel like they are losing their minds and are desperate. These feelings are often caused by imbalanced hormones,’ says Dr Gluck.
In her book, It Must Be My Hormones, Dr Gluck looks at the causes and impact of hormonal imbalances as well as treatment through a combination of bio-identical hormone therapy and nutrition. The book is co-written by nutritionist Vicki Edgson. It is a detailed insight into the function of oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and thyroid function, and uses case studies to illustrate symptoms, causes and treatments. The book also explains the treatment of hormonal imbalances using bio-identical hormone therapy, which Dr Gluck uses for her patients. ‘Bio-identical hormones are derived from plant sources, such as soy beans and yams, and have an identical chemical structure to the hormones our body produces. The body recognises them as their own and they function as if the body had produced them itself,’ Dr Gluck says. They are different to the oral contraceptive pill and Hormone Replacement Therapy, which are synthetic.
Dr Gluck also believes that many women who are taking antidepressants have a hormonal imbalance rather than depression. ‘Absolutely. Absolutely. Easily half the women who are aged over 40 and are on antidepressants have a hormonal imbalance but there is little understanding in the medical profession about how to treat a it as it is not taught in medical school. There are very few enlightened doctors, yet the problems for women aged over 40 are there,’ says Dr Gluck. Understanding the causes of hormone imbalance empowers us to take action, and ultimately feel better.
www.mariongluckclinic.com, 020 7402 2151 It Must Be My Hormones by Marion Gluck £14.99 Penguin Books, amazon.co.uk
Common hormonal conditions
• Pre-menstrual syndrome
• Postnatal depression
• Polycystic ovaries syndrome
• Thyroid dysfunction
Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance
• Memory fog
• Mood swings and depression
• Hot flushes and night sweats
• Headaches and migraines
• Breast changes
• Constant hunger
By Kate Miranda