PREGNANCY HORMONES – It Could Make You Sick a Lot More Than Just Mornings

Pregnancy Hormones

Ah, the ever-changing pregnancy hormones. They play about as big a role in the nine months of waiting for that little bundle of joy as do morning sickness and heartburn. It can be as complicated as some uninterpretable algorithm, so we’ll just stick to the basics. (As basic as they can be.)

Whoa, Baby…

Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)

What it does: HCG is the key hormone that’s present during pregnancy in the urine, which to your elation or at times, dismay, indicates, you are, in fact, pregnant. (Get out the dip strips and wait anxiously for the telling stripe or pink or blue.) In either case, HGG could be the culprit in nausea and vomiting.

Progesterone: this hormone does some very important jobs along the way: it keeps the uterus muscle relaxed and plays a role in the immune system helping the body tolerate foreign DNA (that is, the fetus.). It also leads to relaxation of the blood vessels throughout the body, prompting lower than normal blood pressure and occasionally dizziness, as well as all the not-so-fun gastrointestinal symptoms of pregnancy that include heartburn, reflux, belching, nausea, vomiting, gas, and constipation. Progesterone can also increase hair growth, albeit not the lustrous-toss-your-mane-back good kind — you may notice unwanted hair on your breasts and lower abdomen, for example.

Estrogen: this pregnancy hormone plays a key role in the development of the fetus, with several organs and other bodily systems in the fetus triggered into development by estrogen. The downside, elevated estrogen levels may also prompt spider veins, nausea, increased appetite, and skin changes including changes in skin’s pigment. (Where’s the glow, here?)

Oxytocin: oxytocin is the hormone that stretches the cervix and stimulates the nipples to produce milk.

Prolactin: this milk-producing hormone — which increases 10 to 20 times during pregnancy — has a tranquilizing effect. (Aaahhh…). Prolactin prepares breast tissues for lactation and the release of milk.

Relaxin is believed to be responsible for loosening up the ligaments that hold the pelvic bones together and for relaxing the uterine muscle, both in preparation for delivering your baby through the birth canal. During pregnancy women have 10 times the normal amount of this pregnancy hormone in their bodies. Oh, and another possible downer; (no more downers, please. This is supposed to be a glorious time.) You may feel that your ligaments are ‘looser,’ including your shoulders, knees, hips, and ankles, which can result in aches, pain, inflammation, and even clumsy tendencies. Actually, it can all feel like a pain, but just keep remembering the amazing moment your baby is put in your arms.

Bloating the Boat

Most women look at themselves and bemoan moan feeling fat. Their ankles swell, their backs ache. Well, it’s not just in their minds. Pregnant women retain fluids that alas, do result in swelling of the legs, feet, hands, and even face. (Puffy is definitely not pretty.) This increase in fluid retention is responsible for about 25% of the increase in weight that women experience during pregnancy. Additionally, most women experience changes in their sense of taste during pregnancy, having a higher threshold for strong sour, salty, and sweet tastes. Cravings. Constant cravings. (Hold the lettuce, bring on the Ben and Jerrys and pickles. And hot Cheetos, and dark chocolate pretzels, and salted caramel cheesecake…)

If Only I Were a Marsupial

Nine months of pregnancy seems like an eternity for women especially as they get closer to their delivery date. Have you ever heard anyone wax poetic about it?  An amazing alternative is the animal with the shortest gestation period-the marsupial, known to be just 12 to 13 days, sometimes as short as eight days. (Marsupial envy, anyone?) Just for an absolute hoot, take a look at some of these:

Mammal Average gestation period
Days Months
Armadillo 60 to 120 2 to 4
Baboon 5 to 6
Bear, grizzly 210 to 265 7
Beaver about 105 3 1/2
Boar, wild 115 3 1/4
Bobcat 60 to 63 2
Cat 52 2
Cattle about 238 9 1/4
Cheetah 91 to 95 3
Chimpanzee 230 to 240 7 1/2
Dog 53 to 71 2
Dolphin 10 to 12
Ermine about 28
Red Fox 60 to 63 2
Gerbil 21 to 28
Gibbon 7 to 8
Giraffe 453 to 464 15 1/4
Goat 150 5
Gopher 12 to 20
Guinea pig 63 2
Hamster from 15 to 37
Hippopotamus about 240 8
Horse about 11 1/2
Kangaroo 6 to 11 (in pouch)
Koala 34 to 36 1 1/4
Leopard 90 to 105 3 1/4
Lion 100 to 119 3 1/2
Llama 348 to 368 11 1/2 to 12 1/4
Mouse about 20 to 30
Panda, giant 125 to 150 4 1/2
Pig 101 to 129 3 1/4
Porpoise 183 6
Rabbit 30
Raccoon 63 2
Reindeer 210 to 240 7 to 8
Sheep 135 to 160 4 1/2 to 5
Shrew 13 to 24
Skunk 62 to 66 2
Squirrel about 40 1 1/3
Tiger 103 3 1/2
Walrus 15 to 16 including 4 to 5 months of delayed implantation
Whale, sperm 14 to 15
Wolf 61 to 63 2
Zebra 340 about 11 1/2

Guess you should feel lucky you’re not a sperm whale.

Your Other Perfect Pregnancy Hormone Partner

It’s shown that women whose husbands or partners take a big part in the whole pregnancy and are there for support in any way possible, makes it easier for the mom having the baby. But there is another kind of support that could be just as important for you; Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy. And the physician most sought-after in the field is Stephen A. Goldstein MD, F.A.C.S. at Denver Hormone Health. In addition to years of experience and expertise, he routinely inundates himself with the latest technology, cutting-edge research and superior education available. When you become a patient, you receive his completely dedicated attention. With simple tests, he is able to target your condition and create a completely unique treatment plan for you. Dr. Goldstein will partner with you throughout every step of your journey, helping you achieve optimal health and helping you reach your fitness goals in a time that could often be trying.

Call for an appointment now.

It’s more than you could be expecting.

THE ESTROGEN CONNECTION – Estrogen is What, Exactly?

Estrogen

First, a primer: to some, it’s some “woman’ thing. Some do think of it as a hormone. But surprise, there is actually no single hormone called “estrogen”. Try plurals, here; estrogens are a class of hormones. There are three different forms of estrogens in the body: estradiol, estriol and estrone. (Close your eyes and try repeating.)

Although they are all pretty similar in function, they vary in potency. Estradiol is the most common type found in non-pregnant women of childbearing age, and its main function is assisting with the monthly egg release from the ovaries. Estriol occurs in abundance at pregnancy. Estrone, is the form found upon post-menopause.

It’s Everywhere, Doing Everything.

Estrogen, (as we’ll refer to it here for the sake of simplicity) isn’t just about the basics mentioned above. Consider this:

  • Your daily life affects your estrogen levels and needs-vigorous exercise or stressful situations make you use estrogen faster. When you sleep, when you’re ill, it all has an impact on your estrogen levels.
  • Estrogen can affect your sun sensitivity. (High SPF and no tanning beds, please.)
  • Estrogen has both a direct and indirect impact on the cardiovascular system helping stop the buildup of plaque in your arteries, for example. (Be still, my heart.)
  • Estrogen plays a role in brain function helping protect nerves from damage and possibly stimulate nerve growth. It can also delay memory loss. (What was that I just said?)
  • Even your eyes need estrogen, as low levels can cause dry eyes, blurriness and even a change in vision. (And you thought maybe it was just from a killer hangover.)
  • Estrogen has a big effect on your skin, improving collagen content and quality. (Wrinkle, wrinkle, little star.)
  • It even helps prevent bone loss. (Give me a break.)

Periods? Pregnancy? Post menopause? Just an itsy-bitsy part of the picture.

Get the Whole Picture

The fact is, people don’t know what they should about the hormones called estrogen. And like all hormones, they’re crucial to how your entire body operates. Because hormones send specific signals throughout your bloodstream, if the messages they’re carrying for your body to operate the way it should, a lot could happen. Or not. The most important thing to know about hormones, is that there is a safe and effective way to balance them. In the Denver area, Dr. Stephen A. Goldstein MD, F.A.C.S. at Denver Hormone Health is the expert in Hormone Replacement Therapy. Before anything, he will discuss estrogen in a language that’s easy to understand, and answer any and all questions you have. It is important to understand that hormone levels differ between individuals; what is normal for one person is not necessarily normal for another. That’s why testing for your individual levels is critical. The tests are simple, but the results are completely telling. Once he is able to see your hormone levels, he creates a tailored plan just for you. Because he’s there for you, wanting you to feel your best.

Call for an appointment now.

Unlike estrogen, he’s hard to replace.

UP IN ARMS OVER SEX

feb-16What happens to your love life, as you get older?  Let’s separate fact from fiction. There is a demeaning stereotype that elicits a giant “YUCK-EEEWWW” from younger people when the topic of senior sex even comes up. Horny old broads, dirty old men. There is a movie out there now called Dirty Grampa with Robert DiNiro that defines what these kids are thinking. But is it the true portrayal of what’s going on sexually with seniors today?  What does that mean? That sex in older adults is taboo?  Virility plays a big role in our concept of manhood. There’s this idea you’re supposed to live up to: “Real men are always in the mood.”  Forget about it.  Major myth. As you reach your 50s, 60s. 70s and beyond you might be tempted to listen to all the negativity and believe your sex life is kaput, once and for all. Baloney. Ninety-three-year-old actress Betty White loves to talk about sex: “I may be a senior, but so what? I’m still hot.”

WHERE HAS YOUR SEX DRIVE DRIVEN?

Most seniors aren’t aware of all the roadblocks that come with age. They think something is wrong with them and that a lot of it is in their heads. As mentioned above, they are not supposed to want and have a healthy, rewarding sex life. For both men and women, sex starts to become nothing but a memory. The fact is, the majority of issues are physical. No one thing causes low libido.

The most common sexual problems for men are erection difficulty (37%), lack of interest in sex (28%), climaxing too quickly (28%), performance anxiety (27%), and inability to climax (20%).

Men’s changing bodies can tend to cause the entire male sexual response to slow down in a multitude of ways. There is a delay in erection. There is a need for more manual stimulation to achieve an erection. The phase between erection and ejaculation is prolonged. Orgasm is shorter and less forceful. The penis loses its firmness rapidly after ejaculation. The time interval before erection can be achieved again can be quite long. Ilnesses that can affect sexual performance include coronary artery disease, chronic lung disease, arthritis, prostate problems, even stress, depression, sleep apnea, diabetes stroke and medications, all of which also affect women. Anything that is bad for the blood vessels is bad for erections.”

Women’s body changes are mostly due to estrogen decreases that alter the thickness and size of a woman’s reproductive organs. These changes include loss of elasticity and a thinning of the vaginal tissue, decrease in the amount of lubrication, decrease in the size of the clitoral, vulvar and labial tissue and decreases in the size of the cervix, uterus and ovaries. Ouch. Sometimes it can really hurt.

SEX IN THE SIXTIES

Well folks, are you sitting down?  In reality there is a lot of action going on between the sheets among those over 60.  Data from the University of Chicago’s National Social Life, Health and Aging Project presented in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that many men and women remain sexually active even in their 70s and 80s. Sexually active Americans aged 57-85 have sex as often as those aged 18-59.

Sex after 60 is healthy. In fact, there really is no validity to statements that suggest sex after 60 is too strenuous and should be avoided due to the risks. A study by the National Commission on Aging (NCOA) showed that women, in particular, find sex over 70 as or more physically satisfying than they did in their 40s. In an interview with Helen Mirren, the Oscar winning actress, announced that sex in her youth was “paranoid and empty.” At the age of 69, she quoted that sex is “great, just wonderful.” A study by the National Commission on aging (NCOA) showed that women, in particular find sex over 70 more physically satisfying than they did in their 40s. So is sex in seniors the newest Fountain of Youth? The fact is, the level of sexual interest and activity among people over the age of 65 is as diverse as the individuals who make up that population. Sex may be different at that age, but it’s not diminished.

REV UP A LOW LIBIDO

Let’s start the whole process with some heavy-duty attitude change and a lot of knowledge. When it comes to aging, we are our own worst enemy. So first, dump the image issue. You’re not in your 20s and you don’t have the body and looks you had then. Wrinkles, baldness, bellies and sagging skin are facts of life as you age.  If you let this kill your self-esteem and keep you keeping your clothes on, you’re missing out big time. Get over it, and get on with having a rewarding, fulfilling and ongoing sex life.  Consider these facts to get you going:

Sex can cure headaches. One of the health benefits of sex is its ability to act as a pain reliever. The hormone oxytocin (sometimes referred to as the love hormone) is secreted within your body during sex causing endorphins (which are hormone-like chemicals that bear a close resemblance to morphine) to be released.  Studies have shown that a rise in oxytocin levels can relive everything from headaches to cramps and overall body aches.

Sex can reduce stress and help you sleep better. One survey revealed that people who have more sex reported that they felt more at ease, happier and learned how to handle stress better. People who enjoy a regular dose of sex convey that they sleep much better during the night and feel alive and refreshed throughout the day. So, one of the health benefits of sex is a better nights sleep, which allows you to handle day-to-day stress much more efficiently.

Sex can increase blood flow. It goes without saying that when we get aroused our blood starts to pump at a quicker rate and, thus, blood flow to our brain increases What this ultimately means is that the fresh supply of blood pumping through your body provides the organs with a healthy dose of oxygen and rids the body of old and wasteful products.

Here’s a fun one: believe it or not, sexual intercourse burns off 150 calories every half hour. Although the average couple engages in sex for approximately 25 minutes a session only three times a week, it still accounts for 450 calories that are better taken off than put on. A health benefit of sex, particularly a rigorous hour of sex, is that it may burn even more than 300 calories depending on how rigorous you get. I wouldn’t suggest getting a fitbit for it yet…

Although the orgasm is sometimes referred to as the “little death,” having at least two orgasms a week can increase your life span. Every time you reach orgasm, the hormone DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) increases in response to sexual excitement and ejaculation. DHEA can boost your immune system, repair tissue, improve cognition, keep skin healthy, and even work as an antidepressant. Therefore, a health benefit of sex if you keep the orgasms coming, is potentially a longer life.

DON’T BE SHY

Be willing to be flexible and adapt to change. Forget staring in the mirror all the time. Don’t be afraid to slow the process down. Realize that sexual arousal takes longer and requires more manual stimulation. Make the most of foreplay. Communicate. Share what makes you feel good with your partner. Don’t think discussing any physical problems will turn your partner off. Experiment. Lighting, candles, oils.  Try a new place. Different positions. And women…make adequate lubrication part of your routine to avoid irritation of the vagina or painful intercourse. In all this, we’re referring to couples. But don’t avoid pleasuring yourself.  Forget the “shouldn’ts, couldn’ts.” Masturbation is part of any healthy sex life. As people age, it is often more difficult to find a partner. Make yourself feel good. You certainly deserve it.

IT’S TIME FOR A CEASE FIRE

Hormone imbalances don’t just occur as part of the aging process, although it is often the case. But that doesn’t mean you should give up on living a robust and yes, sexual life. There is a way to address many of the issues you’re struggling with. Some, of course, are due to physical problems. But others could be the result of hormone imbalances, and the key to getting what you want. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is a good way to start. Bioidentical hormones are hormones derived from natural sources, and have an exact structural match to the hormones produced by the human body. This “bioidentical” structure allows these hormones to follow the same pathways and act on the same receptors in the body as your own hormones.

Where can you find out if BHRT can help you?

WITH STEPHEN A. GOLDSTEIN, M.D, F.A.C.S. AT DENVER HORMONE HEALTH, ONCE YOU’RE THERE, YOU’VE GOT HIS FULL ATTENTION. FEW HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE IN THE FIELD OF BHRT AS HE DOES. YOU CAN DISCUSS ANYTHING WITH HIM. WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT WHAT BHRT IS?  HE’LL EXPLAIN IN DETAIL. HE’LL LAY OUT THE MANY WAYS BHRT COULD HELP YOU, AND GIVE YOU OPTIONS AS HOW TO PROCEED. COMPREHENSIVE TESTING AND EVALUATION WILL LET HIM ASSESS ANY ISSUES WITH YOUR HORMONE LEVELS AND WHAT HE CAN DO TO RESTORE IMBALANCES THAT ARE DETERRING YOU FROM LIVING THE LIFE YOU WANT, NO MATTER YOUR AGE.  FROM THERE HE CREATES INTEGRATED AND INDIVIDUALIZED TREATMENT PROGRAMS THAT COMBINE USING BHRT WITH PROPER NUTRITION AND EXERCISE.

CALL NOW TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR A CONSULTATION. IT’S AMAZING HOW GOOD YOU’LL FEEL.