Hormones are various substances secreted by glands into the bloodstream which alter the activity and sometimes the structure of organs and tissues, thereby affecting health and well-being. Even before birth, hormones control many bodily processes. Growth hormones stimulate growth and development in children; sex hormones trigger sexual development in teens; and declines in certain hormones with age, lessen muscle mass, and reduce time spent sleeping. At any age, over-production or under-production of these hormones may adversely affect our health. Hormone-secreting glands include the sex glands (ovary and testis), the adrenal glands, the pancreas, the thyroid, and the pituitary, the “master gland.” Hormones are also made in your brain; these hormones affect your mood, psychological status, and energy level and also regulate the pituitary gland. Furthermore, different glands make more than one hormone. For example, the thyroid makes both T4 and T3, and the ovaries make different types of estrogens, estrone (E1), estradiol (E2) and estriol (E3). Glands and the hormones they produce are listed in this Table.
Hormone Replacement Should be Tailored for Each Patient
Our bodies have many regulatory mechanisms that keep these hormones at levels that are optimal for each of us. For example, Beth may feel optimal when her thyroid level, T4, is 10 units, while Sue functions optimally with a thyroid level of 6. If Beth has something slightly wrong with her thyroid and her T4 drops to 8 (still in the “normal” range), she may feel tired and depressed, and gain weight. Her body will compensate by increasing her thyroid stimulating hormone, TSH. But even with this compensation, Beth will not feel optimal until she is given the correct thyroid hormone replacement. By contrast, if Sue suffers an illness that elevates her thyroid hormone level from 6 to 9 (still in the “normal” range),she may suffer unwanted weight loss and anxiety.
What Are Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance?
Aging, concurrent illness, medicine intake and stress all can subtly alter hormonal levels. The most common symptom of altered hormonal levels is fatigue. Other symptoms include weight gain in spite of dieting, sleep disturbances, loss of memory, poor immunity, dizziness on standing, decreased interest in sex, carbohydrate cravings and depression (see the Table). Many doctors dismiss these symptoms as mere signs of aging or stress; however, Dr. Friedman’s 35 years of Endocrinology research and practice has shown that many of these symptoms are due to hormonal imbalances, which can improve with proper replacement.
Why See a Doctor who Specializes in Endocrinology?
Hormonal replacement is complex and replacing one hormone will alter the replacement of other hormones. Therefore, hormonal replacement needs to be balanced and carefully monitored. For example, oral estrogen replacement(pills) blocks the action of growth hormone and leads to growth hormone deficiency. Transdermal estrogen replacement (a patch) does not do this. Similarly, it was previously (and incorrectly) assumed that all patients should get only one type of thyroid hormone, T4. Now we know that some patients require both T3 and T4 or desiccated thyroid for optimal health. Previously patients receiving estrogen replacement received a form of estrogen extracted from the urine of pregnant horses which stimulates the breast cancer forming estrone (E1). Dr. Friedman prefers using sophisticated laboratory tests to determine which hormone is correct for you, the patient. He will then prescribe either pills or patches containing the more beneficial hormone, estradiol, or in some cases, natural forms of estrogen.
Dr. Friedman’s Approach to Hormone Treatment
Dr. Friedman is expertly trained to ask the right questions during your interview. After taking a thorough history, he will order the appropriate laboratory tests and carefully interpret them. You will then be started on an individualized hormonal replacement and be carefully monitored. Dr. Friedman also will design an individualized exercise and diet regimen to complement your hormonal replacement.
Dr. Friedman also works closely with, and gives referrals to, the following specialists:
This comprehensive approach is designed to having you feel the best you can!
Dr. Friedman’s web site does not offer medical advice. These materials are offered for information purposes only. Do not act or rely upon information from goodhormonehealth.com without seeking professional medical advice. Additionally, the transmission of information from the web site, goodhormonehealth.com to you, is not intended to create nor does create a physician-patient relationship between you and Dr. Friedman.