Importance of Hormones for Overall Health and Wellbeing

Hormones are often referred to as the ‘fountain of youth,’ but why? This is primarily due to the correlation between aging and diminishing hormone levels, which include but are not limited to testosterone, progesterone, estrogen, and HGH. An illustrative example of this phenomenon is menopause, during which a woman’s ovaries produce significantly less estrogen, marking the conclusion of her reproductive years. Similarly, testosterone levels in men begin to decline by 1-3% starting in their mid-30s. All hormones play important roles in our health and well-being, regardless of gender. While we cannot reverse aging, we can extend our health span by optimizing hormones, either naturally or through Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), both of which are services offered here at Thrive Medical Spa. However, what exactly are hormones, and why are they so essential to our vitality?

Hormones can be like mailmen who distribute chemical messages throughout your body rather than delivering physical mail. Our remarkable brains produce hormones in the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and pineal gland. These hormones then travel to various targets, including organs, muscles, skin, and other tissues like the thyroid, testes, and ovaries. They can trigger further hormone production in these target tissues. For example, the testes produce testosterone and a small amount of estrogen, while the ovaries produce estrogen, progesterone, and a small amount of testosterone. These sex hormones are essential for maintaining mood, energy levels, quality of sleep, skin health, muscle development, and bone health.

Many people mistakenly believe that testosterone is solely a male hormone and estrogen is only for females. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Both sexes require optimal levels of these sex hormones for a variety of functions beyond reproduction.

Testosterone is essential for libido, energy levels, muscle mass, and bone health. In women, testosterone is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. They work to preserve bone strength, a healthy sex drive, and ovarian function. Estrogen is essential to the cardiovascular, skeletal, urinary, and dermatological systems. This is extremely important for bone health, as it regulates osteoblast and osteoclast activity, which are bone cells that synthesize and break down bone. When it comes to skin health, estrogen and progesterone have major roles. Keratinocytes, the cells responsible for producing the tough protein keratin, are stimulated by estrogen to proliferate. This keratin is essential for keeping our skin, hair, and nails strong and healthy. Progesterone increases collagen synthesis, which is crucial due to the loss of skin elasticity as we age.

As individuals age, there is a decline in testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone levels in both men and women. This decline results in various detrimental side effects, including reduced cognition leading to potential neurodegenerative conditions, as well as deterioration in muscle, bone, and overall skin health. Why does this insidious decline occur with aging? In men, low testosterone often results from a malfunction in the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis. This disrupts communication between the brain and the testes, leading to both decreased testosterone production and reduced signals for further production.

Additionally, as individuals age, there is an increase in sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), a protein that binds to hormones, thereby reducing their bioavailability. In women, upon reaching menopausal age, there is a decline in all sex hormones, notably estrogen. Regrettably, testosterone is among the primary sex hormones that decrease in women as they age. Furthermore, estrogen therapy contributes to an increase in SHBG, further diminishing the body’s ability to utilize hormones. Fortunately, modern

medicine offers numerous methods to counteract the effects of aging and the contemporary environment, which exacerbates hormonal imbalances—a subject we will delve into more deeply in the future.

Nowadays there are many ways to combat decreasing hormone levels, from synthetic man-made hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to prescription drugs that trick your brain into producing more downstream hormones, to optimizing your lifestyle and supplementation regimen. What determines if you go the natural route versus going to prescription medication? Numerous factors come into play, but primarily it hinges on your age, medical history, bloodwork results, and current lifestyle and supplementation regimens. Correcting low hormone levels is notably easier when addressed at a younger age, and the initial strategy should involve rectifying lifestyle factors and addressing any nutrient deficiencies through supplements or dietary improvements (services offered here at Thrive Medical Spa). These lifestyle changes include getting eight hours of quality sleep nightly, resistance training at least twice a week, consuming a whole-food diet rich in protein, managing stress levels, and obtaining daily sunlight exposure for at least 10 minutes in the morning, midday, and evening. If you are already doing all of this and are still low in some of your sex hormones, it is a good idea to get a nutrient panel done to assess for any nutrient deficiencies. Especially for zinc, boron, and vitamin D, all of which have been linked to low sex hormones when at low levels.

Since hormone levels naturally decline with increasing age, at some point you may have to go on HRT. This is different for everyone, and some may not need to start until age 50 or 60, while others need to start much younger, especially if you are someone who abused steroids or took long-term birth control in your younger years, as this shuts down the natural production of hormone levels. Luckily for us, modern medicine makes this easy, as HRT is not as scary as it sounds and there are many different methods of replacement depending on the route you want to go. There are hormone shots, pellets, or even prescriptions that can trick your brain into producing more hormones. Depending on your prior history, nutrient levels/blood work, age, and lifestyle factors we can determine which route is best for you.