What Are the Treatments for Hormone Imbalance?

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Once men and women reach their late 40s and early 50s, there is a risk of experiencing hormonal imbalance. Hormonal changes are common in humans as we age. The shifts in these changes are so small that they have little symptomatic effects. But sometimes major chemical imbalances can occur. In these cases, sufferers will experience tremendous changes in his or her body, producing symptoms that are at once uncomfortable and debilitating, something even causing risks to one's physical and mental health. There are a number of ways sufferers can treat hormonal imbalances to alleviate the symptoms associated with them and lead more balanced lives.

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Definition

Hormonal imbalance is caused when there are fluctuations in the amount of hormones the body produces, causing dramatic shifts in bodily and neurological functions. Symptoms for hormonal imbalance are varied, but wide-reaching. Some of the more common symptoms include mood swings, nausea, fatigue, depression, hot flushes in women, weight gain or loss, hair growth or loss, etc. More serious ailments, such as osteoporosis, bone loss, erectile dysfunction or impotence, memory loss, etc., are also common symptoms. Health care professionals generally have different treatments for hormonal imbalances, depending on what is right for each patient.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

For many women, hormone replacement therapy is a common treatment to alleviate the symptoms of hormonal imbalance. For example, women who lose significant amounts of oestrogen and progesterone during menopause are treated with hormone replacement medicines, which achieve a chemical balance in their bodies. Therapists also believe that by increasing the amounts of oestrogen in women, heart disease and osteoporosis can be prevented. This helps to improve the patients' quality of life and keep them feeling young, though studies have discounted some of these previous claims. Women are encouraged to consult their physicians before deciding whether hormone therapy is the best choice in treating hormonal imbalances.

Lifestyle Changes

Other forms of treatment for hormonal imbalances that are beneficial for all sufferers include changes in lifestyle. Considered the least risky of all treatments, lifestyle changes nonetheless require the most discipline and self-restraint. These changes can include everything from stress-relief exercises, such as yoga or meditation, to improvements in one's diet and exercise. Some of the more specific changes one can undertake include eliminating caffeine and alcohol; getting a good night's rest; regularly consumption of Vitamins B, C, D, E; practicing breathing exercises; eating balanced meals; exercising regularly; drinking plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration, as well as increasing the amounts of foods that are rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Foods, such as flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds, are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, while eggs, poultry, and nuts are also high in Omega-6 fatty acids.

Alternative Medicine

Using alternative medicines is another option for those suffering from hormonal imbalances. Alternative medicine can range from using herbal remedies to using other techniques, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, massage, aromatherapy, or hypnosis. Depending on what works best for each patient, each of these remedies may have varying results. For women, herbal remedies appear to have the most effective means of alleviating symptoms associated with menopause or other hormonal imbalances. There are two types of herbal remedies available to sufferers: phytoestrogen and non-oestrogenic herbs. Phytoestrogen herbs, such as Black Cohosh, contain oestrogen that are produced by the plants. When using these herbs, the plant-based oestrogen are introduced into the body to replace the loss of oestrogen women experience during menopause. Non-oestrogen herbs work simply to stimulate the pituitary and endocrine glands to increase the rate of hormones the body will naturally produce, thus creating a chemical balance that will alleviate menopausal symptoms.

Compare and Contrast in Treatments

Hormone replacement therapy is, of course, the costlier of the various treatments available to hormonal imbalance sufferers. It is also the riskiest of the treatments available. In a 2002 clinical trial, the largest of its kind, the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) discovered there were significant increases in health risks to long-term hormone replacement therapy. The introduction of synthetic hormones increases the risks of ovarian and breast cancers, heart disease, blood clots, and strokes. After the study was released, at least two-thirds of the doctors in this field discontinued its use. Hormone therapy is still used, but only for short-term relief from some menopausal symptoms.

However, hormone therapy is still considered to have some benefits, such as prevention or a decreased risk in contracting diseases such as osteoporosis, colorectal cancer, and heart disease. The least riskiest and most cost effective treatments for hormonal imbalances remains lifestyle changes and alternative medicines. But, in the case of herbal remedies, there are some risks to consider. A possible side effect for using phytoestrogen herbs, for instance, is that they can affect a woman's ability to produce oestrogen naturally. On the other hand, non-oestrogen herbs are considered among health experts as the least riskier of the two herbs used for hormone treatment therapies.

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