Hormonal Reproductive Health Issues
In addition to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, abnormal estrogen and progesterone levels also cause several women’s health issues. Let’s explore the most common hormone-related health issues for women, warning signs, and what you should do if you have any of these symptoms.
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a common hormonal reproductive health issue. Around 10% of women of childbearing age live with this disruptive hormonal imbalance that interferes with metabolism and fertility.
If you have low estrogen levels or abnormally high androgen (testosterone) levels, it can interfere with the ovulation process. With PCOS, your ovaries don’t produce or release egg cells normally.
PCOS is also linked to abnormally high insulin levels. Insulin is the hormone that helps your body convert glucose — blood sugar — into energy. Unusually high insulin levels are a crucial indicator of insulin resistance. You might be more familiar with terms like prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, depending on the severity of your condition.
In addition to interfering with ovulation, the hormonal imbalance that causes PCOS also triggers a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, including:
Irregular menstrual cycle
If you have PCOS, you might have infrequent, painful, and heavy periods. Some women with PCOS have fewer than eight periods a year or stop having them altogether.
Hirsutism and acne
Many women with PCOS also grow excess hair on their face, chin, or other parts of their body where men usually grow hair. You might also notice that your arm hair grows on the inside of your forearm. And if the extra body hair wasn’t bad enough, the hormonal imbalance can also cause acne on your face, chest, or upper back.
Women with PCOS also tend to gain weight quickly or struggle to lose weight. It’s incredibly frustrating to eat well and exercise, but not lose any weight.
You might also notice that you get darker patches of skin. These dark patches usually form in the creases of your neck, groin, or under your breasts. Some women also develop skin tags in their armpits or on their neck.
Endometriosis is a women’s reproductive health issue that occurs when your endometrium, the tissue that forms to line your uterus every month, grows on other organs outside of your uterus. It usually affects other organs in your pelvis, such as your ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, the outside of your womb, bladder, and colon.
While the causes of endometriosis aren’t fully understood, there is a strong correlation with elevated estrogen levels. Your ovaries could produce too much estrogen, or you might have low progesterone or androgen levels, which causes “estrogen dominance.”
Pain is the hallmark symptom of endometriosis: pelvic pain, painful periods, painful sex, back pain, and painful urination and bowel movements. You might also struggle with weight gain, heavy abnormal periods, and infertility.
Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that form in or on your uterine walls. They range in size from tiny seedlings to large grapefruit-sized masses. There are several types of uterine fibroid, which are identified by where they develop.
- Intramural fibroids grow within your uterine walls.
- Submucosal fibroids extend into your uterine cavity.
- Subserosal fibroids develop on the outside walls of your uterus.
Medical researchers suspect that up to 80% of women might have fibroids, but most don’t have severe symptoms or get diagnosed.
Like endometriosis, the causes of uterine fibroids are not well understood. There is a link to your estrogen and progesterone levels, as these hormones seem to promote fibroid growth. Fibroids have more estrogen and progesterone receptors than healthy uterine muscle cells. Also, fibroids usually shrink and disappear in menopausal women. Additionally, an insulin-like growth factor can trigger fibroid growth.
Depending on the size and location of your fibroids, you might have symptoms including irregular or heavy periods, a full feeling or enlargement in your lower abdomen, painful sex, low back pain, frequent urination, and reproductive problems.
Premature ovarian failure
Premature ovarian failure is sometimes called early menopause. It occurs when your ovaries stop producing eggs, often before the age of 40. You can develop the condition as early as your teens, although your risk increases between the ages of 35-40.
Many conditions contribute to premature ovarian failure, such as genetic problems, autoimmune diseases, and treatments like chemotherapy and radiation. However, your estrogen and progesterone levels decline and nearly disappear with this condition.
Irregular periods are the most common sign of premature ovarian failure. You might have years of irregular cycles before your periods finally stop. You might also have trouble getting pregnant or have decreased sexual desire.
Other signs of premature ovarian failure are also common with conventional menopause. You might have hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, irritability, and reduced concentration. Estrogen is critical to bone growth, so premature ovarian failure also increases your risk of osteoporosis.
When to talk to a doctor
If you have any symptoms of a hormonal imbalance, you should seek medical attention. Hormonal imbalances are treatable with hormone replacement therapy.
You can start your assessment today by completing our online screening questionnaire. If your responses indicate a potential hormone imbalance, we contact you to schedule a brief online consultation and order extensive blood tests to evaluate your hormone levels.
We don’t just consider your estrogen levels. We also look at your progesterone, testosterone, insulin, cortisol, and more.
IIf you have a hormone imbalance, we prescribe bioidentical hormone replacement therapy to regulate your hormone levels, relieve your symptoms, and restore your health. You don’t have to suffer in silence, fill out the questionnaire, and start your journey to improved wellness today.
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