How hormones affect your health and your weight
PUBLISHED: 14:07 04 January 2021
Many women who suffer from problems related to hormonal imbalances could be treated very easily, according to Dr Ruslana Popelyuk, one of the doctors at the PSMD Clinic.
The PSMD Clinic is a private medical clinic which also offers anti-ageing treatments, medical weight loss and specialist skincare, alongside hormonal health. Dr Popelyuk and her partners, Dr Kim Prescott and Dr Tania Schroeder, have a special interest in hormones and are highly trained to offer bespoke hormonal health balancing.
Q: What are the symptoms of hormonal imbalance in women?
Classically, the first symptoms to appear are changes in mood, as well as irritability, unprovoked anxiety, difficulty in focusing and concentrating. Some women also experience reduced libido and problems with sleep. One major cause of hormonal imbalance in women is becoming perimenopausal. That normally happens around the mid-40s, when hormonal changes start to happen; women are not yet menopausal but some of the hormones start going down and they become symptomatic. Very often this phase goes under the radar of both patients and doctors. The women still feel young and are still menstruating; they believe they shouldn’t really be getting any help because on the surface of it everything seems to be fine. But treatments are available, and these can be helpful. Many women feel they should only seek help when their periods stop, and they start having hot flushes, vaginal dryness and a foggy mind. These are also symptoms of hormonal imbalance, which can be treated, but tend to come later on.
Q: Can hormonal imbalance cause weight gain?
Yes, weight gain can be a real problem for some women. This can start quite early on and can affect women with polycystic ovaries, as well as those who are perimenopausal or menopausal, and very often it is one of the most troubling symptoms. They can start gaining weight, especially around waistline and hips, and also start to lose muscle tissue. By seeking medical advice from us, we can advise them on how to lose weight, and this might include balancing their hormones.
Q: What else causes hormonal imbalance in women?
Premenstrual tension syndrome can also cause problems. This happens to younger women who have seemingly normal cycles but in the few days leading up to their period can suffer a lot with various symptoms. Very often they and their partners and families suffer quietly but help is available. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is another cause. Up to 30 per cent of younger women suffer with it but the extent can vary from very mild symptoms to those that are quite severe. But, again, there are various treatments and adjustments available, starting with lifestyle and diet and finishing with hormones.
Q: Can I check my hormone levels at home?
There are kits for doing it at home but we don’t know how reliable they are. By having the checks performed medically we can investigate, assess the results and offer a bespoke treatment plan for you. We take a detailed history and then take venous samples, which are sent off to a laboratory to be analysed. We look for hormonal imbalances and at the adrenal gland and vitamin D levels. Each part of the suggested treatment, and the rationale behind it, is explained. It can be discussed with the patient and adjusted to suit their symptoms, requirements and wishes. We provide a seamless treatment process, which is bespoke and optimised for each particular patient.
Q: How can I balance my hormones?
There are various options. Many people respond well to diet and lifestyle changes, but for others, hormonal therapy may be an option to help with symptoms that affect your quality of life. If you are looking at bioidentical hormones (plant-based preparations of hormones that are biologically identical to the hormones produced by our body), creams can be applied to the skin or lozenges dissolved in the mouth. There are some vaginal creams too. These are all prepared by special pharmacies that create them specifically for each individual patient. If a patient would prefer a conventional therapy, like a hormone replacement therapy (HRT) treatment through patches or tablets, we can offer that as well.
Q: Can balancing my hormones help me to lose weight?
If the hormones are balanced, then it is possible the metabolism will increase, and you may well find it is easier to lose weight. With weight gain we also look at the thyroid gland, which is part of the hormone system too. Very often as women approach menopause, the function of their thyroid gland goes down. This can often be treated as well. Our hormones influence all areas of our body. So, it’s absolutely paramount to have them balanced out for all sorts of reasons. As well as helping with weight loss, they can enhance quality of life and improve overall wellbeing, enhancing energy, motivation and drive. If your hormones are low, balancing them out could improve your relationships; ability to function, cognition and interest in life generally.