Join us as we take a deep dive into all things hormones, including what they are, why they are important (especially for women), what happens to them as you age, and more.
If you are of a certain age, you may spend a bit more time thinking about hormones, aging, and certain changes your body might be going through, or preparing to go through. When most of us think about hormones, we probably jump to estrogen and testosterone, but there is so much more to our endocrine system than the sex hormones that command our reproductive cycle. Every second of every day, you have dozens of hormones acting in your body to get certain physiologic functions accomplished. Hormones control much of what we feel, be it tired, hungry, hot, or cold. Simply put, they are like little traffic signals telling our body what to do and when, so it can run smoothly.
Hormones As You Age: Signals to Watch
Hormones affect people in different ways throughout their lives, and hormone levels can spike dramatically at physical or emotional transitions. It is important to understand these hormones, especially at these transition points in our life, and how they can affect our bodies.
The endocrine system is an amazing thing. Without your endocrine glands – and the hormones they release – your cells wouldn’t know when to do important things. Your body’s endocrine system secretes and controls the hormones that regulate many body processes like your metabolism, use of nutrients, excretion, and reproduction. When you age, these systems become less efficient, leading to changes in our bodies like menopause, which are important to understand.
The Endocrine System
One of the easiest ways to answer the question “what are hormones,” is to take a look at some of the major hormonal systems in the body. Hormones are created by glands, which are part of the endocrine system. The main glands that produce hormones are:
- Pituitary: Often thought of as the master control gland, the pituitary gland controls other glands and makes the hormones that trigger growth.
- Thyroid: The thyroid produces hormones associated with calorie burning and heart rate.
- Adrenal: Adrenal glands produce the hormones that control sex drive and cortisol, the stress hormone.
- Hypothalamus: This gland is responsible for body temperature, hunger, moods, and the release of hormones from other glands. It also controls thirst, sleep, and sex drive.
- Pancreas: The pancreas produces insulin that helps control blood sugar levels.
The body has many types of hormones:
Certain types of hormones have a larger role to play in the body’s overall health and well-being. For women, estrogen is the main sex hormone. It causes puberty, prepares the body and uterus for pregnancy, and regulates the menstrual cycle. During menopause, estrogen levels change, causing many of the uncomfortable symptoms women experience¹.
Menopause: Natural Solutions
The most common consequence of age-related hormonal changes for women is menopause. Even though roughly half the world’s population is female, it often seems that we do not all know what truly goes on during major life changes like menopause, and do not know very much about how these changes can affect us.
At around age 50, women’s ovaries produce decreasing amounts of estrogen and progesterone. The pituitary gland tries to compensate by producing more follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH – regulates the function of the ovaries). While menopause is normal and happens to all women, symptoms might include the following: hot flashes, decreased libido, insomnia, depression, and osteoporosis.
Current health guidelines indicate that it may be beneficial to take a supplement medication containing estrogen/progesterone to alleviate these symptoms². For those that want something more natural, try looking for natural, plant-based supplements containing the nutrients below.
Look for supplements that contain:
- Black cohosh root extract (for hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms),
- Soybean isoflavones (which the body uses to maintain normal estrogen levels),
- Wild yam extract (often used as a natural alternative to estrogen therapy, which increases energy and sexual drive),
- Sage extract (aids in digestive problems like bloating, gas and reduces perspiration),
- Chaste tree berry extract (used to treat menstrual cycle problems and pain),
- Vervain extract (used to treat many conditions like depression, headaches, anxiety, and insomnia),
- Astragalus extract (used to fight the common cold, respiratory infections, and allergies)
- Motherwort extract (used to treat heart conditions including irregular heartbeat, fast heartbeat, and anxiety).
Being more in tune with our body’s hormonal changes as we age can help us to be more aware of our health, and can help us understand what to expect, what is normal, and when we should see a healthcare professional.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.