Hormonal Imbalance — Is it getting you down?

Did you know that hormonal imbalance is at the root of so many things that feel out of balance for women (and men)? From dry, chapped lips, to internal rage, weight retention to fuzzy brain, anxiety to depression…the list goes on.

If you’re already struggling with other emotional or physical heath issues this can feel like the straw that broke the camel’s back. So, I decided to address this for all those feeling confused and wanting to cross a possible culprit off their list.

Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen dominance is so common these days, especially in women, that it’s worth knowing a little more about it. The reason is the stressful lifestyle that many of us are living, and also the increase in environmental toxins. Below are some of the potential causes (mentioned by Holly Lucille):

  • excess exposure to environmental xenoestrogens (an industrial compound found in consumer products such as detergents and skincare products)
  • use of synthetic estrogens such as the birth control pill and hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • anovulation (lack of ovulation during menstrual cycle)
  • digestion issues (which tax the estrogen-detoxification process in the liver)
  • unrelenting stress (which strains the adrenals and the thyroid)
  • unresolved emotional issues
  • poor diet
  • negative lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol use

Some symptoms of estrogen dominance (retrieved here)

  • Acceleration of the aging process
  • Allergies, including asthma, hives, rashes, sinus congestion
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Breast tenderness
  • Cold hands and feet as a symptom of thyroid dysfunction
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Depression with anxiety or agitation
hormonal-imbalance-anxiety
  • Fat gain, especially around the abdomen, hips and thighs
  • Fatigue
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Foggy thinking
  • Hair Loss
  • Headaches
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Infertility
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Insomnia
  • Magnesium deficiency
  • Memory loss
  • PMS, irritability, mood swings
  • Sluggish metabolism
  • Thyroid dysfunction mimicking hypothyroidism
  • Water retention & bloating
  • Zinc deficiency

My journey with hormonal imbalance

For years my gut issues have been very connected to my menstrual cycle and I’ve heard people mention estrogen and progesterone imbalance numerous times. I’ve also experienced varying levels of PMS and fibrocystic and tender breasts. So four years ago, when I developed this fistula, I finally decided to try out saliva tests. My progesterone was very low. I began a regime with a NZ-based clinic but didn’t stick with it long enough to notice too much of a difference.

hormonal-imbalance-progesterone-ostrogen

Then, at the beginning of 2015 I saw a holistic doctor in Auckland to help get me into balance. After hearing of my various symptoms, among others tests, he included a thorough hormone test on my blood test — estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, FSH, LH, testosterone. The test has to be carried out between day 19–21, which is where estrogen and progesterone levels should technically be similar. To understand more about how these hormones interact with each other, check out the chart on this page.

Sure enough my progesterone was very low and estrogen very high, and so began a more dedicated journey. Part of his solution was herbal supplements and a cream to rub on at certain times during my cycle.

Hormonal helpers

My doctor recommended the product EstroSense — a natural supplement that not only supports the liver, but also allows the body to properly metabolize estrogen and therefore over time lower estrogen levels. The reviews for it on amazon and iherb are awesome! I’ve now been taking it for about a year, with great improvements in things like PMS, sore breasts and terrible period pains.

hormonal-imbalance-progesterone-cream

The other prescription was for natural progesterone cream. At first I got that from a compounding pharmacy, but now buy this brand from iherb. You begin applying it to the soft parts of your body (inside arms, inside thighs, tummy, breasts — and you alternate each day) from Day 14 until Day 28 or the day you begin bleeding. Overtime this is meant to build up your progesterone levels, but you need to lower estrogen significantly first.

There are some amazing resources out there and tons of information on the web. When my holistic doctor left for overseas he recommended Dr Helen Smith in Auckland to carry on with. I still haven’t seen her, but believe she offers all the same thorough tests and support that he did. I believe the trick is to find a doctor who believes that you can sort your problem out from the root up, rather than masking them with plasters. So if you can find a holistic doctor in your area, you’re well on your way :)

Emotional help

Of course I have continued with emotional support from my counsellor, and also self support with tools like EFT, affirmations, mindfulness, moving my body in gentle ways and reducing stress in my life. I believe that all these combined are what has made me feel more peaceful and physically and emotionally stable around my cycle.

May you find peace with your health and hormones…