In honor of Women’s Health Week, I want to talk about female hormonal health (que my husband Collin peacin’ out of this post. HA!)
This subject hits home to me because throughout my post-pubescent life, my hormones have never been right. As a teenager, I didn’t really see the symptoms as symptoms at all because I just thought it was normal. But, after my 2 year stretch of bodybuilding, I was ready to take a deeper look at my hormones because my body was showing me how glaringly obvious it was that things were imbalanced.
So, you might be thinking “how would I even begin to tell that I have a hormonal imbalance?”
Here are five symptoms of imbalanced hormones:
- Your cycle is irregular, heavy, light, or non-existent. This is pretty self explanatory, but for me, throughout my teen years, my cycles were extremely heavy. After high school (and a three year stint of birth control), my cycles were irregular, and during/after bodybuilding, my cycles were non-existent. For 2.5 years to be exact. NO BUENO!!
- You have serious PMS. Bet you thought tender breasts, raging mood swings, serious cravings, the lovely “period zit”, bloat, and gut-wrenching cramps were all normal, didn’t you? Well, the fact of the matter is that this is NOT normal! So many women experience these symptoms, and typically, this is a sign that your estrogen is too high and your progesterone is too low.
- Persistent weight gain. When hormones are out of balance, our liver has a hard time doing it’s job to get rid of fat, so you may see weight keep piling on despite all of your efforts to eat well and exercise.
- Low libido. Yup. Nothing is wrong with YOU. Something is wrong with your hormones. This is a huge sign something is up. And the stress you’re experiencing in life is a huge factor in this!
- Constant fatigue. In this day in age, it’s so normal to be “exhausted” or “so tired” from a long, busy, demanding day. But, it’s not normal to wake up in this exhausted and drained state and feel like you just can’t wake up throughout the day. This is your adrenal glands telling you THEY are the tired and exhausted ones! When I was finally realizing something was up with my hormones, constant fatigue was a huge symptom of mine.
So, now that you’ve identified with some of these symptoms, you’re probably like “how the hell do I even go about fixing this!?!” The good news is that you have the power to help your hormones get on track! The not-so-good news is that you can’t do it overnight. The symptoms and imbalance you’re experiencing have probably been brewing for a while, so it is going to take a little while to get things straightened out.
How to begin working with your body to balance your hormones:
- Get your hormone levels checked by a professional. When I decided to take action to get my hormones aligned, I went to a family medicine doctor in my town & explained all of my symptoms to her. She ran blood tests on me that did in fact show my hormonal state, which was -1 of the three major hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Later did I find out, saliva tests are more accurate because our hormones fluctuate throughout the day) they test hormone levels at 4 different times throughout the day, where blood tests only test you at that moment.
- Look into your lifestyle. Are you eating poorly, living a sedentary life, or are you dieting too hard and/or over exercising? These things will surely help throw hormones out of line. If you eat a diet consisting of too much junk (sugar), your body will have to over produce the hormone insulin, and spikes in insulin can disrupt production of other hormones. If you don’t eat enough food and/or over exercise, your body will over produce the stress hormone, cortisol, and deplete your progesterone, causing irregular cycles and many other problems.
- Assess the stress in your life. Going back to that hormone called cortisol, aka the stress hormone. Too much stress in any way, shape, or form, will cause you to over-produce cortisol. Stress can be caused by a bad drive to work, a bad interaction with a friend, not enough sleep, too much exercise, not enough food, too much exercise, and much more. As stated before, too much cortisol=bad news. Assess your stress and do what you can to eliminate it!
- Add in hormone-healthy supplements. This is a blog post in itself, but, I would recommend going to a function medicine doctor or naturopathic doctor to find out more on your condition and supplements that will help. There are some that I would recommend looking into such as; maca root, vitex (chasteberry tree), and evening primrose oil. Through my hormone recovery, I have been taking these and they have helped significantly with MY condition. (*Remember everyone is different and what works for me may not work for you!)
- Start cycle syncing. Everything I’ve spoke of here, I’ve learned from Alisa Vitti (who you can learn more about here), and she is the author of Woman Code, where I learned how to cycle sync. Cycle syncing is listening to your body and working with it, exercising, eating, socializing, and living in tune with the four different phases of your cycle. I recently started cycle syncing because I am still dealing with some residual hormone imbalances so I can’t speak on it yet, but I have read many posts on the success in doing this! Lee from America has a great blog on it here if you’d like to read more on it. Alisa Vitti does have a cycle tracking app called FloLiving that does cost, but is so worth it! It’s all you need to start cycle syncing!
With all of this, I hope I helped shed some light onto this sort of taboo topic. If you are interested in getting started with this but have no idea where to start, reach out to me and we can talk! I can help you get down to the nitty gritty and get on the road to healthier, happier hormones. Contact me here!