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Posted by on in Dr. Susan Janssens, Bsc, ND

Hormones and Health

Dr Susan Janssens BSc, ND


At fourty-four after months of struggling with fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles and anxiety Sarah came in to see me. She had gone to see an array of medical doctors from an endocrinologist for her hair loss and weight gain to an ob-gyn for her irregular bleeding. The end result was being told “I can’t find anything wrong.  You are still cycling so you do not have any hormone problems”.  However what most people do not know is that their hormone balance can change as early as thirty and this change or imbalance can create havoc in their lives. 

Hormones are one of the many ways our body’s cells “talk” with each other.  Hormones are substances produced by specialized glands (like ovaries, testes and adrenals) and carry messages to distant parts of the body.  You have hundreds of different hormones.  Some important ones include estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol.

Both men and women produce estrogens, progesterone and testosterone but in differing amounts.  Women produce more estrogens and progesterone, while men make more testosterone.  These hormones cause masculine and feminine characteristics as well as enable fertility. 

Hormones need to be balanced or various health concerns can arise.  There are times during a person’s life when hormone levels normally shift and change; this includes puberty for both sexes, during menopause and pregnancy for women, and andropause for men.  Many hormone levels also decline as we age.  Genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors can all play a role in hormone production and balance as well as determine how well our bodies adapt o naturally changing levels.


Estrogens (estradiol, estrone and estriol)

  • Estrogens help maintain healthy reproductive tissues, breasts and skin.
  • In women, high estrogen levels can cause weight gain, breast tenderness, heavy menstruation and lead to increased risk of breast and uterine cancers.  Low estrogen levels can lead to hot flashes, vaginal dryness and bone loss.
  • In men, high estrogen may contribute to prostate problems and reduce testosterone activity.



  • Progesterone is involved in reproduction, nervous system health and mood.
  • Optimal progesterone levels support and balance the effects of other sex hormones especially estrogen.
  • Low progesterone levels have been lined to many of the symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, sleep disturbances and irritability.



  • Testosterone help with the regeneration of skin, bones, muscles and other tissues.
  • Testosterone helps maintain lean muscle, sex drive and cardiovascular health in men and women.


Adrenal hormones

  • Cortisol levels vary during the day and disruption in this rhythm can lead to sleep disturbances and fatigue.
  • Cortisol becomes elevated due to stressors, like illness and emotional stress.
  • Constant stress can lead to very low cortisol levels and poor immune function.
  • Low DHEA levels can lead to fatigue, depressed mood and reduced mental function.


After testing Sarah’s levels of DHEA, cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone we found out that she was deficient in both DHEA and progesterone, while being elevated in cortisol.  This explained a lot of Sarah’s symptoms.  When a person is under stress the increasing cortisol will cause the body to gain weight around the middle or “belly” section of the body.  In my clinical practice I have found that high levels of cortisol and lower levels of DHEA tend to contribute to anxiety.  Sarah was not ovulating regularly and this was resulting in lowered progesterone and irregular cycles.  We worked on balancing Sarah through nutrition, herbs, homeopathy as well as natural hormones. Today she feels energetic, has regular cycles, has lost much of her weight and no longer feels anxious. To book an appointment to have your hormones tested please call 403-288-4880 or go to for other locations in Calgary.


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