The Woman’s Guide to Balance Hormones Naturally

attractive older woman sitting
November 11, 2014 (Updated: September 28, 2017)
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.

Ladies, how are your hormone levels? If you don’t know, you’re certainly not alone. But whatever you do, please don’t ignore your hormones.

When used properly, hormones are powerful forces for healing. Used correctly, they can also be a woman’s best friend.

Hormones are chemical messengers, drugs made in your body, for your body to function.

They are involved in some of your body’s most important functions. Hormones travel through your bloodstream, managing the activities of the trillions of cells in your body.

There are more than 50 different hormones in the human body that we know of, and more are likely to be discovered. Right now, we’re only looking at a few of the better known, including estradiol (a form of estrogen), progesterone, testosterone, pregnenolone, and DHEA.

Most people think of hormones in connection with sex. And they do play a huge role in defining male and female sex characteristics. But they do so much more!

They are natural drugs, produced in your body, which you absolutely must have in balance for everything to function properly.

Here are some of the things hormones can do:

  • Help prevent osteoporosis and restore bone strength
  • Protect against heart disease and stroke
  • Reduce hot flashes and vaginal dryness
  • Help maintain muscle mass and strength
  • Improve cholesterol levels
  • Reduce risk of depression
  • Reduce risk of breast and endometrial cancer
  • Improve libido
  • Prevent senility and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Improve sleep, mood, concentration, and memory
  • Help maintain youth and provide anti-aging benefits

When hormone levels are properly balanced, you feel good and function well. But even a small change in just one hormone’s production can create a domino effect throughout the body and undermine your health.

That’s exactly what happens as you age and hormone production slows down. Between tje ages of 25 and 50, for example, most women experience a 50 percent drop in progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA. By age 50, estrogen has plummeted by 30 percent and continues to fall as you age. This is especially true for women who’ve had a hysterectomy.

And when hormone levels get too low, trouble begins.

Here are a few signs that your hormones may be in need of balancing:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Hot flashes
  • Weight gain
  • Looking pale and washed out
  • Fibroids in breasts or cysts on ovaries

Conventional medicine treats hormone imbalance with one-size-fits-all remedies. Remember the disaster for women when synthetic hormone replacement (HRT) was touted as a fountain of youth, a way to age gracefully and maintain health?

Naturally, millions of middle-aged women jumped at the chance to slow aging. They took synthetic hormones like Provera and Premarin, made from the urine of pregnant mares.

In 2002, a massive study of more than 16,000 women found these synthetic substances increased the risk for breast cancer, heart disease, blood clots, and stroke. The study was shut down before being completed, to prevent further harm to participants from these drugs.

Fortunately, there’s a better option. Bio-identical HRT uses plant-based substances designed to be chemically identical to what your body produces.

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Unlike synthetic hormones, bio-identical HRT reduces the risk of breast cancer, while performing the same duties as the hormones your body manufactures.

Which hormones should you be tested for? Here’s a brief overview of key hormones, what they do, and what those scores mean.

If you’re over age 40, I suggest having the following hormone tests.

  • DHEA
  • Testosterone
  • Estradiol
  • Pregnenolone
  • Progesterone

DHEA: Produced in the adrenal glands, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is sometimes used to treat osteoporosis, vaginal atrophy, and depression.

Test scores vary by age. DHEA levels for a 55-year-old woman are typically between 80 and 200 ng/dL. By age 75, a woman would look for scores between 50 and 95 ng/dL.

Testosterone: One of the better-known hormones, testosterone is secreted by both men and women. Although men typically produce much more, testosterone is important for women, too. Low levels are associated with depression, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

For the average woman, a total testosterone score between 20 and 80 ng/dL is fine. Again, the mid-range (about 40 to 50 ng/dL) is best.

Estradiol: A form of estrogen, estradiol is linked to memory, mood, and muscles. It protects against heart disease and is also used to treat symptoms of menopause, such as osteoporosis, vaginal dryness, and hot flashes.

A healthy range for females is between 50 and 100 ng/dL.

Pregnenolone: No energy? A pregnenolone deficiency could be the problem. This hormone enhances memory, fights Alzheimer’s disease, trauma, stress, and poor immunity. Test scores of approximately 100 ng/dL are considered healthy.

Progesterone: Functions in the brain, bones, and central nervous system all depend on progesterone, which also balances estrogen. In post-menopausal women, I look for blood levels between 6 and 8 ng/dL. For everyone else, the numbers will vary depending on a number of factors.

Personally, I feel that there is an optimal hormone balance that’s right for each person. And my job is to find it and restore that individual’s health. Doing that starts with testing.

Typical medical tests, like a standard blood panel, don’t measure hormone levels. So if your physician doesn’t test specifically for hormones, you can request one.

If tests show you’re deficient in one or more of these important substances, you can correct those deficiencies with a prescription from your health-care provider for bio-identical hormones.

Depending on your needs, solutions may come in the form of pills, creams, or lotions. It usually takes a week or two, sometimes longer, for hormone balancing to be restored. So be patient. The end result will be worth waiting for!

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  • Mary Lewis Scoville

    What do you rec as ideal level for women
    who are not post menapousal for prog?

  • STEVE

    why does cost have to be such a factor to a women getting biodentical hormones they are out of reach for most women.I would like to see it made more afforadable.

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