A Story of Unbalanced Hormones
©Arlene R. Taylor PhD
If there’s a will there’s a way.
—Old English Proverb and an old Chinese Saying
“Well,” the caller said, “I got my test results back and my hormones were as unbalanced as a broken teeter-totter. I used the hormone-replacement crème for a whole month and I don’t really feel much different. Guess that was a wasted endeavor!” His voice was adamant.
I couldn’t help chuckling—to myself, of course. Hormone imbalances typically develop over time and expecting them to rebalance in a mere thirty days is often an indication of unenlightened and unrealistic expectations.
“Tell me what you know about your own pregnancy,” I said. “What were you told or what have you gleaned over the years?”
“How much time do you have?” he responded. “My mother had a horribly stressful pregnancy with me. My father didn’t want a child, at least not less than a year after their marriage, and he made no bones about telling everyone how upset he was. I guess my mother cried the whole nine months and consistently refused to consider an abortion. Good thing for me!”
What an unfortunate gestational history. In order for a person to live a healthy and productive life, hormones must be in balance. Imbalances occur when the normal rhythms of hormonal production and utilization are disrupted in order for the individual to survive. In terms of physiological importance, survival comes first. Always. Then other functions follow. When a pregnant woman is stressed, especially if she perceives a hostile environment, the fetus experiences an increased susceptibility to stress and sex hormones along with any toxins that are circulating in the mother’s body.
For a child who experienced a stressful pregnancy, he or she may require higher levels of stress just to activate the release of cortisol. Waiting to do things until the very last minute may be indicative of this. (For a female fetus, a stressful pregnancy can actually result in the child developing a more reactive brain and nervous system, which can increase her reactivity to stress over a lifetime.)
“What do you know about the first few years of your infancy and early childhood?” I asked.
“I know I had colic,” he said. “Horrible colic. Some nights I cried all night. I guess that prevented my parents from having good sleeps, which made my father even more irritable. He abandoned us when I was about seven months old.” (Colic during early infancy can be a symptom of food intolerance, which may align with hormonal imbalances.)
I explained that negative stress is cumulative; as are levels of stress hormones, such as adrenalin. When the stress hormone cortisol is high, the immune system is negatively impacted. When cortisol is too low, it interferes with the body’s ability to even mount an appropriate stress response. And when both cortisol and DHEA are low, the individual may be in a state of maladaptation or hormonal dysregulation.
At this point the caller interrupted to say that he’d been taking an oral form of testosterone but, again, hadn’t noticed much improvement.
“That may be because hormones taken orally tend to flood the brain and body,” I said. “This can trigger the body to shut down its own production of those hormones due to negative feedback related to overloading, which can result in perpetuating the imbalance rather than helping to resolve it.”
Rather than ask another question, I took a risk and just said, “According to Dr. Michael Borkin, an eminent authority on hormones, 100% of males over the age of 50 will experience some form of erectile dysfunction. It tends to be a symptom of cardio-vascular problems. Think of erectile dysfunction as the canary in the coal mine. Unfortunately, an average of eighteen months passes before the individual seeks medical assistance, by which time his hormones may be even further out of balance.”
There was a long silence on the other end of the line, broken by my saying,” Check your test print out. If progesterone levels are high, that may correlate with erectile dysfunction.”
“So how long would I need to be using these transdermal crèmes?” he asked.
“You don’t develop hormonal dysregulation in a few days or weeks,” I answered, “so it can take a long time to help the body recover and rebalance. A simple trauma, for example, can impact hormonal balance within four to twenty-four months. The effects of a traumatic fall may show up about four months later as the beginning of symptoms of dementia. It generally takes a minimum of 120 days of transdermal-crème use before any improvement is noted. And sometimes you may not have even noticed you had any symptoms because they’ve been around for such a long time you’ve become accustomed to them and assume this is just the price of being an adult in this culture.”
His next question was whether he would need to continue using transdermal crèmes for the rest of his life. “That would depend on the individual,” I replied.
Some individuals have used this strategy for several months to a year, retaken saliva tests, and been able to go on a maintenance crème with only annual retesting. Individuals who have been on such a program for the past fifteen years report they feel great and believe this strategy has helped them slow down the onset of symptoms of aging.
“Hey,” the caller said, “if that’s what it takes I’ll stop subsidizing the restaurant industry so frequently and so heavily and eat more meals at home. That’ll help pay for the testing and the crèmes.”
Good for him, I thought, as I shut off my phone. And the old proverb came to mind: If there’s a will there’s a way.