Do you struggle with irritability, mood swings, bloat, water retention, sore breasts, insomnia, constipation prior to your period, heavy or painful periods? Are you dealing with low libido? If so, you may have hormonal imbalance. It is important to understand why hormonal imbalance occurs to understand how to fix it.
What is considered a normal menstrual cycle?
A normal menstrual cycle lasts 25-35 days, is regular and predictable, and is not overly painful or heavy. In a normal menstrual cycle, estrogen increases during the first half of the cycle, followed by an FSH/LH peak mid cycle (aka ovulation) with progesterone increasing during the second half of the cycle with its lowest levels being at the start of menstruation. It is important to mention that estrogen is a proliferatory hormone causing tissue growth while progesterone is anti-proliferatory counterbalancing the effects of estrogen. Having these two hormones in balance is key. Progesterone can be thought of as our relaxation hormone. Progesterone can be "stolen" during the times of stress to increase cortisol levels in the body during times of demand.
Symptoms of hormonal imabalance:
Mood swings, anxiety, low libido
Breast tenderness, fatigue
Heavy periods/cramps, endometriosis, fibroids
Fatigue, sleep disruption, brain fog
Hot flashes, mid-cycle spotting
Acne, hirsutism (facial hair), hair loss
weight gain, PCOS, infertility, IBS symptoms
Signs of abnormal cycles:
Greater than 3 months between cycles
No period by age 15
Short cycles (less than 21 days) or long cycles (greater than 45 days)
Having to change sanitary pads/devices more than every 1-2 hours
Menstrual flow that lasts longer than 7 days
(Committe on Adolescent Health care)
Types of Hormonal Imbalance:
There are different types of hormonal imbalance: High estrogen (estrogen dominance), luteal phase dysfunction (low progesterone), Hormonal insufficiency and disrupted hormone metabolism.
1. Estrogen dominance: excess estrogen when compared with progesterone. Estrogen may be low but progesterone is very low or estrogen is high.
Causes: obesity, inflammation, gut dysbiosis, caffeine, alcohol, insulin resistance, environmental exposures to xenoestrogens
2. Luteal phase dysfunction: decrease progesterone
Causes: stress (progesterone is our relaxation hormone and will be used up during stress), low fat/no fat diet, low calorie diets, anorexia
3. Hormone insufficiency: low hormone levels
nutritional deficiency, aging, mitochondrial dysfunction
4. Disrupted hormone metabolism: hormones that must undergo metabolism by the body are being pushed down an inflammatory path.
poor nutrition, alcohol, hormone replacement therapy, endocrine disruptors
So what can you do?
If you are suffering from symptoms of hormone imbalance (male or female) it is time to do something about it. Hormone imbalance can be a sign of metabolic dysfunction and metabolic syndrome which can lead to diabetes if left untreated, impaired detoxification which can lead to things like cancer later in life, adrenal fatigue, and overall inflammation which can lead to things like cardiovascular disease.
1. First step is to change your diet. Eat a diet rich in color and nutrients. Eat the rainbow! Get rid of processed and packaged foods. Click the PDF below for my ebook: the ultimate guide to nutrition and metabolism
2. Drink plenty of clean, filtered water. For healthy individuals I recommend 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water per day.
3. Decrease your exposure to toxins. Read more about toxins in personal care products here. Click on the link for recommendations on some of my favorite household cleaning products as well as personal care products.
4. Get your gut right! If you struggle with constipation, diarrhea, or bloat consider getting a comprehensive stool analysis with personalized plan. Gut health is central to detox!
5. Do have an in-depth laboratory evaluation of your health with an organic acids test. This will aid in developing a personalized health plan.
6. Get screened for environmental toxin exposures and start detoxing today. Read more about detox here.
7. De-stress! Start meditating daily, practice gratitude, and breathe! Take the guesswork out with a 4-point salivary cortisol test. This can help to dial in which stage of adrenal fatigue you are in for a personalized approach and treatment plan.
Making the changes to your lifestyle will only positively impact your hormones and is a great starting point. If you continue to struggle with hormone imbalance and are tired of guessing and being told it is all in your head I can help. Schedule a wellness consult today!
Committee on Adolescent Health Care. Menstruation in girls and adolescents: using the menstrual cycle as a vital sign.The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.2015; 651: 1-4.