So your hormones are all over the place and you just can't get them
controlled? Don't worry, this happens to many women (and men) and there are many things that can be done to help.
There are a few big players in the hormone cascade: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, LH, FSH, cortisol, and pregnenolone. Yes, there are a lot of other hormones in the body but we are going to be focusing on the traditional sex hormones.
The body naturally goes through ups and downs and many hormones follow this trend. This is referred to as a circadian rhythm. All our hormones will have their own circadian rhythm and each has a different time interval.
When our bodies hormones stop following the natural rhythms, this is when symptoms start to arise. The most common hormone imbalance symptoms are: anxiety, weight gain, low mood, no or low libido, pain, and foggy thinking/poor memory. These are very common symptoms that can be seen in either elevated estrogen with low progesterone of low estrogen with high progesterone. This is why it is important to look at testing before jumping straight into treatment. If you assume, you could be elevated the wrong hormone!
There are two main ways to test sex hormones.
- Serum Testing (tests for blood levels of hormones)
- Dried Urine Testing (tests for hormone metabolites)
So you've gone through the appointment, completed the testing and now understand what hormones are imbalanced. Now what? Here comes the most important part. Balancing.
Elevated Estrogen With Normal/Low Progesterone
Many women will experience this particular imbalance during their life. It is very common in women who are taking OCP's or are on IUD's. As a quick side note, any time we treat and balance hormones, fertility increases!
Another extremely contributor to reduce progesterone is excess stress and cortisol production. Cortisol has an inhibitory effective on progesterone receptors and there has even been new theories about the "cortisol steal" where long term stress shifts resources towards the cortisol pathway.
An effective way to reduce estrogen and balance hormones is to increase estrogen clearance. Our bodies naturally clear estrogen through the liver system. Anytime the detoxification system is slow or sluggish results in a decreased ability to clear excess estrogen.
Elevated Progesterone With Normal/Low Estrogen
This is a less common occurrence and mostly is seen with women taking progesterone/progestin prescriptions. One of the best ways to reduce elevated progesterone is to review your prescriptive medication. The other way is to target the natural hormone pathway to enhance pregnenolone conversion to estrogen over progesterone.
Hormones can be a complex maze of symptoms, emotions, and confusing information. Don't worry, its completely normal. It just means that you may need some help balancing your hormones to help reduce your symptoms and get your life back on track.
Quality of life is important and when your hormones start producing symptoms, it's time to get them tested and treated. Talk to your doctor or naturopathic doctor to see how you can start balancing your body.