health and wellness

Dealing with hormone changes in your body may not be your cup of tea, but understanding what is going on can help spell out what you might do to alleviate the symptoms.

When you think of hormones, there are a couple that come to mind right off the bat.

Sex hormones are well-known, but there are several other important hormones that don’t get as much of the spotlight. The glands in your body’s endocrine system release hormones to keep your systems working, but hormone levels that are too high or low could wreak havoc.

While the hormones that rule your life during puberty are important, they are far from the only hormones your body depends on to run smoothly. Here are a few of the hormones that your body relies on and symptoms you might experience if your levels are off.

Feel-good hormones

A day at the spa can help you feel relaxed and happy, but you have your hormones to thank for that more than the mud bath and cucumbers on your eyes. When oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin are released, they make you feel happy and relaxed. Having the right balance in these hormones can keep you in a good mood and prevent depression.

Stress hormone

Just as hormones can make you feel relaxed, they can make you feel wound up and on edge. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the body’s ”fight or flight” response, and it is released during stressful situations. Although cortisol might seem like the enemy, it helps your body respond to stress, controls blood pressure and reduces inflammation. Too much cortisol, however, can cause a range of symptoms like headaches, anxiety and other problems. It’s important to avoid chronic stress to keep cortisol levels in check.

Thyroid hormones

Your thyroid may be an organ that you don’t think about until it isn’t working right. The hormones your thyroid produces have a hand in the functioning of your major body systems. Having too little of these hormones slows the systems down, while too much speeds them up. A whole range of symptoms can be attributed to thyroid problems, from libido issues to weight loss or gain and even excess sweat.

Sex hormones

Testosterone, estrogen and progesterone are some hormones that get a lot of attention throughout your life. These hormones play a vital role in sexual health for men and women, but their reach goes beyond sex drive. Low testosterone can affect muscle mass, heart health and mood. Low estrogen or progesterone can contribute to osteoporosis, hot flashes and insomnia. Unsurprisingly, abnormally low levels of these hormones can also be to blame for decreased libido and vaginal dryness.

“Both women and men can experience a drop in sex hormones as they age,” says Dorothy Cuoto, administrator at Walnut Creek Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation. “While these changes are normal, it is important to talk to your doctor about ways to alleviate symptoms you are experiencing, such as depression or sexual health problems.”

Hormones can get a bad rap, and they can certainly give you some trouble if your body releases too much or too little of the hormones you need to function. Talk to your doctor about changes you are experiencing to find out if hormones might be to blame.

Dr. Amy Osmond Cook is a health care technology consultant and VP of marketing at Simplus, a Platinum Salesforce Partner.