Hormones drive so many actions in the body, from your mood to your metabolism, weather you get acne, or lose your hair. They’re complex. Most people believe one or more of the following hormonal myths:
1. “I’m too young to have a problem with hormones.”
Most younger women believe that menopause is some future cliff they’ll fall from, around age fifty or so, in the distant future.
Not so. Your body has been prepared for the menopausal cliff for decades before, and it will pay future dividends for you to understand the more subtle hormone imbalances that begin as early as your late 20s. Most commonly, testosterone, DHEA, progesterone, and even estrogen can start to wane. Many women as early as their 30s have signs of hormonal imbalance: periods with a shorter than 28 day cycle, PMS, fading sex drive, and an increase of belly fat the big clues.
2. “I feel “blah”. I must be doing something wrong.”
Many women blame themselves for their moodiness and melancholy before looking for a biological explanation.
Before you go popping antidepressants or shopping for a therapist, know that biology is, quite possibly, to blame for many of your emotional symptoms. Roughly, 20% of women with mood issues and depression have problems with their thyroid. Low estrogen and progesterone can also cause your mood to fall. Of course, if depression has been a long-time struggle, a therapist should be retained.
For many women, a few tweaks to your hormones can help you feel like a completely different person.
3. “My doctor says hormones change too much to get an accurate measurement.”
Hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, and testosterone are tracked when women are trying to conceive or are in the early months of pregnancy. Why would these numbers be important indications of a woman’s health in one situation but not another? Wouldn’t hormone levels be as reliable an indicator of health after pregnancies, as before them? Why the double standard?
With all the hats a woman wears like being a frazzled mom, wife, and/or career woman, many struggle with low energy, belly fat, a nonexistent libido, moodiness. It’s no wonder hormones can get out of whack. You should measure your levels. Statistically, what you measure improves.
4. “I just need to accept that gaining weight is part of getting older.”
You may think it’s normal to feel this way as you get older. And if you’ve heard this from your doctor, you may be afraid to disagree without any data to back you up. Don’t let yourself be disempowered.
Too often, we think the problems we’re having are age-related, but a simple test can indicate if they are hormone-related. For example, fatigue and weight gain are very common examples of low thyroid. Too many doctors mistake the symptom for the problem, and may put you on a nutritional and exercise regimen to manage your weight without going deeper and looking for the root cause of your symptoms.
This is reminiscent of the diagnosis for cataracts. Doctors used to tell patients complaining of blurry vision that they were just getting older, but now we take them seriously and send them straight to an ophthalmologist for further testing.
5. “My doctor says my hormone levels are normal.”
The problem: Your doctor is old school and looking at the normal reference range for 95 percent of the population, not the optimal range.
Your doctor may be well intentioned, but under-informed. They may be using an outdated reference range, using “normal” reference ranges from their medical school days, and are unfamiliar with newer guidelines that in fact have a narrower optimal range.
They may also be unaware of current findings, or they may just rely on the myth that numbers don’t lie. Too many doctors rely on a limited lab test more than what the patient is telling them.