How to Balance Hormones

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Hormone levels can become imbalanced due to a variety of reasons including diet, disease, stress, thyroid disorders, hysterectomy and menopause. An imbalance in hormone levels can lead to weight fluctuations, moodiness, acne, sexual dysfunction and decreased fertility. Diagnosing hormone imbalance will require a doctor who specializes in this type of disorder, such as a gynecologist or endocrinologist. Once you have been diagnosed, there are some things you can do to balance hormones and begin to feel more like yourself.

Look at your diet for foods that may be contributing to a hormone imbalance. According to Dr. Sonia Gaemi, Ed.D., RD in her book "Eating Wisely for Hormonal Balance," eating breakfast is very important for maintaining hormonal balance because it helps with waste elimination and provides nourishment for energy needs and optimal body functions. In addition, Dr. Gaemi recommends complex carbohydrates, protein and phytochemicals early in the day to balance hormones and contribute to serotonin release. (Phytochemicals are found in plants foods such as soy, fruits and vegetables.)

Limit your consumption of animal based products. Because animals are sometimes fed chemicals to increase their size, foods like processed milk, eggs and meat should be limited due to their potential steroid and antibiotic content which may interfere with optimal hormonal balance. Foods that contain saturated fats, oils and simple sugars may also contribute to symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance and should be avoided or limited.

Consider hormone replacement therapy. Synthetic hormones are often used to balance hormones. They come in the form of progesterone, estrogen or testosterone and work to alleviate symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep disorders and vaginal irritation associated with menopause. Estrogen is available in nasal sprays, pills, skin patches, gels and vaginal creams. Progesterone and testosterone come in pill, skin patch and vaginal cream form as well.

Consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy for a more natural approach. Bioidentical therapy involves the use of hormones that have the same molecular structure as those already found in women's bodies. These hormones are available in pill or patch form.

Ask your doctor about phytoestrogen therapy. Phytoestrogens are plant based products that are currently being studied for their use in estrogen replacement therapy. Because phytoestrogens have both anti-estrogenic and pro-estrogenic properties, the amount of estrogen the body contains affects the overall outcome of this method.

Take the minimum recommended dosage of any hormone therapy. Hormone replacements should be started at the lowest possible dosage that is effective. In addition, it is recommended that hormone therapy be taken for a period of 25 to 28 days and then stopped for three to five days to allow for re-balancing of hormones.

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