According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, hormones are literally “the body’s chemical messengers,” which travel throughout the bloodstream to tissues and organs. Hormones impact many various processes in the body from growth and development to metabolism, sexual function, reproduction and mood.
Dr. Lisa Ballehr, whose practice specializes in general wellness as well as preventative hormone balancing, notes that hormones include the entire HPTA system — the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, adrenal, and male and female hormones. Because hormones are such a powerful part of the body, people may experience a wide range of symptoms or effects if their hormones are out of balance. For example, when hormones are out of balance, both women and men may report experiencing insomnia or feeling fatigue, weight gain, hair loss, mood swings, anxiety, digestive problems such as IBS, PMS (for women), low sex drive and more.
When hormones are unbalanced, they can also impact fertility. This is evidenced in multiple ways. For example, obesity or stress can impact hormone balance and can cause temporary problems with a woman’s ovulation. Another example is polycystic ovarian syndrome, an endocrine disorder that can result in irregular or lack of ovulation or menstrual periods, and is considered to be one of the most common causes of infertility among reproductive-aged women. However, with proper hormone balancing therapies, fertility can be boosted naturally by improving gut health through nutrition, reducing inflammation and stress, ridding the body of excess toxins, exercise and adequate sleep. It is no coincidence that many of these are functional medicine approaches.
Hormone imbalance can be a result of a variety (or combination) of multiple factors including underactive or overactive thyroid, insufficient or improper diet, chronic stress, diabetes, birth control, hormone replacement therapy and more. Since most hormones can be detected in the blood, a blood test can be used to check thyroid function, and estrogen/testosterone and cortisol levels. Thyroid disease can also cause impact fertility by way of hormone imbalance. Because the thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones, when it produces too many or too few, it can disturb a woman’s menstrual cycle. Hormone imbalance may impact a male’s fertility as well if there are problematic testosterone levels and other hormones that are produced by the pituitary and thyroid glands.
The good news is that Dr. Ballehr is able to use the core elements of functional medicine to help many of her patients achieve hormone balance, and she offers preventative hormone imbalance programs as well. Dr. Ballehr uses these elements — including nutrition, sleep and relaxation, exercise and movement, stress management and relationships — to improve her patients’ overall health as well as in cases of specific health issues such as hormone imbalance.
People may experience hormone imbalance in a variety of ways, but Dr. Ballehr specializes in treating each person’s individual issues with a customized plan that incorporates the elements of functional medicine. Contact Dr. Ballehr directly for a consultation.