5 Important Hormones
Hormones are your body's chemical messengers. They travel in your bloodstream to tissues or organs. They work slowly, over time, and affect many different processes, including metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, and mood.
Our endocrine glands are the organs that make hormones. The major endocrine glands are the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenal glands, and pancreas. In addition, men produce hormones in their testes and women produce them in their ovaries.
Here’s a look at five critical hormones that we commonly balance for our patients.
Manufactured in male testicles, female ovaries, and the adrenal gland, testosterone is most often associated with sex drive. It is often though of as a “male” hormone, but testosterone is most abundant sex steroid in women throughout their lives. Testosterone receptors are found everywhere in the body, which means that it acts upon all these organs:
Heart and blood vessels
Skin, bone, muscle and fat
Uterus and ovaries
Testosterone production begins to decline for women in their 30s, and for men in their 40s. Stress, certain medications like statins, depression and menopause can accelerate testosterone loss. Natural ways to increase testosterone include:
Maintain a healthy weight
Sleep at least 7 hours per night
Increase the protein in your diet
Add a zinc supplement
Estrogen again is found in both men and women. It exists in three forms:
Estradiol: this is the most metabolically active form
Estrone: significantly less potent than estradiol; this form is most abundant after menopause
Estriol: this form is typically found during pregnancy
Similar to testosterone, estrogen receptors are found all over, in the breasts, uterus and ovaries but also in bones, testicles and prostate, liver, fat cells, bladder, colon and the immune system. There is no real “natural” way to help support estrogen levels without proper hormone optimization.
The thyroid is a vital hormone gland. It plays a major role in the metabolism, growth and development of the human body. It helps to regulate many body functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. A properly functioning thyroid is constantly adjusting the amount of thyroid hormone we need and releasing it into the bloodstream. Sub-optimal or low thyroid levels can leave you with:
Always feeling cold
Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
Muscle aches and weakness
Thyroid is often an overlooked hormone. Many patients are told that their thyroid is “normal” when only one measurement of thyroid function has been performed. Plus my long-time patients know that “normal” is not a word we use when discussing hormones. We want our hormones in the optimal range! A full thyroid panel is a critical part of any hormone evaluation, and supplementing thyroid hormone to an optimal range has significant positive effects.
Insulin may be the single most impactful hormone in our body. We’re all aware that our country is in an obesity epidemic, and a shocking number of us are walking around with undiagnosed prediabetes or insulin resistance.
This is the hormone responsible for regulating blood glucose (sugar) levels and many other metabolic functions; we can’t survive without it. When we eat a meal and sugar enters our bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin. Here’s what can happen to that sugar:
Insulin helps sugar enter our cells to be used as energy
Insulin drives sugar into the liver to be stored for later use
Insulin levels should then decrease when the job is done
The problem occurs when a ton of sugar enters the bloodstream at once. The pancreas pumps out lots more insulin to handle it. Over time, our cells stop responding to the insulin, and the pancreas pumps out even more since it thinks the insulin is not doing its job. The liver is chock-full of stored sugar, so it sends the excess sugar to be stored as fat. This is the basis for insulin resistance.
Many patients may have insulin resistance and not be aware of it. This is why weight loss treatments like semaglutide injections have been so popular. Semaglutide helps the body regulate both the secretion of insulin and helps cells respond better to it.
Cortisol is thought of as our stress hormone, as it is released from the adrenal gland in times of stress. Our bodies are designed to respond to physical stress, like needing to run away from a predator. When cortisol is released:
We are more alert
Blood rushes to our muscles so we can move quickly
Digestion and sexual response are dulled since we can’t focus on that when we need to move to survive
In times of physical stress, we were meant to move—run, fight and defend ourselves from predators. Once we were out of harm’s way, cortisol levels decrease. This is literally our self-preservation hormone.
Today, we rarely face life-threatening physical stresses; instead we have psychological stress, like work, kids, traffic, deadlines, busy schedules, and an overload of online input. Our bodies have not evolved to deal with these stresses, since they do not require a physical response (we can’t run away when we’re stuck in traffic or the kids are driving us crazy!)
But our adrenal gland doesn’t know that, so it puts out cortisol in any time of stress. When we can’t respond with physical activity, cortisol can lead to:
Depression or anxiety
Muscle aches and weakness
High blood pressure
Over time, if we don’t learn to manage stress, the adrenal gland can tire of putting out so much cortisol, and it runs out. Sometimes this is called “adrenal fatigue”. Then we don’t have any cortisol to put out when we really need it! Managing stress in a healthy way and taking the proper supplements to support the adrenal gland is your best way to manage poor production of cortisol.
SCHEDULE YOUR HORMONE CONSULTATION AT FOUNDATIONS AT MAITLAND
At Foundations at Maitland, in Maitland FL, we offer a full range of non-surgical treatments to help you reach your aesthetic, wellness, and sexual goals. Our providers are highly trained and experienced. We are led by our double-board certified surgeon, Dr Kristin Jackson, who has personally developed all treatment protocols and is closely involved in the day-to-day operations of our medical spa. With her extensive training in all non-surgical cosmetic treatments as well as over 20 years of surgical experience, Dr Jackson is uniquely qualified to ensure our medical spa provides you with the highest standards of quality care and safety.
If you are looking for hormone replacement doctors or anti-aging doctors near you, we can help! Contact us today for your complimentary consultation!