As we get set to FINALLY launch our first public module called Hormones and Fertility (other modules include Pregnancy, Birth and Postpartum) in the Baby Making and Beyond series, I find myself really thinking about the BIG picture when it comes to women’s health and hormone balance. Writing this program with my partner in crime Liz Wolfe has been such an inspiring journey and I’ve learned so much more than I thought I ever would about women’s health and hormone balance. These are things they don’t teach you in school and things that Dr. Google just won’t tell you…..because I don’t think there has yet to be a program like ours that’s really taken a truly holistic viewpoint that’s is rooted in scientific evidence and balanced with true anecdotal experience. Baby Making and Beyond is not trying to sell you a special supplement or a magic snake oil, but instead, arm you with the tools you need to make your own informed choices and support your own health in a way that’s balanced and practical. This first module is really made for EVERY WOMAN. It’s rich in nerdy science and overflowing with practical advice….so if you’re struggling with hormone imbalances, head over to the Baby Making and Beyond website and check it out :)
That being said, let’s chat about ESTROGEN! Estrogen is frequently demonized in our hyper-focused overly obsessed culture. Everywhere you turn these days it feels like women are talking about the dreaded ESTROGEN DOMINANCE. If you haven’t heard about it, Estrogen dominance is essentially a term used to describe a state of excess estrogen to progesterone ratios. This means, in theory, estrogen could be normal or even LOW..it’s all about ratios and if progesterone is all but 0, any amount of estrogen will cause this state of dominance.
A quick google search will give you a fast list of symptoms it can be blamed for including:
Decreased sex drive
Foggy thinking, memory loss
WHOA! With a list like that, no wonder estrogen dominance seems to garnish so much attention! There is no denying that women across the western world are suffering in record breaking proportions, but, what if there was more too this than simply having too much estrogen.
It’s my strong belief that estrogen ISN’T THE ENEMY here. Estrogen is responsible for so many important functions within in our bodies including:
Sensitizing our cells to insulin, thus lowering blood glucose and preventing insulin resistance (a cause of diabetes, PCOS and obesity)
Supporting our healthy bone density
Signalling to the pituitary gland that it needs to make LH (luteinizing hormone) which triggers ovulation and resulting progesterone production in the ovearies.
Protects our brain aka is neuroprotective and helps prevent things like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke. This is especially important in the hippocampus, cerebral cortex and striatum.
Helps to regulate our mood
Keeps our skin soft, triggering collagen production
Helps to keep our vaginas healthy and lubricated (Um, yes please)
So….as you can see, estrogen is doing a lot of GOOD in our bodies and needs to be celebrated not vilified. So, why do so many women struggle with these less than desirable symptoms?
Well, as you’ll learn in DEPTH in our Baby Making and Beyond program, estrogen dominance is really all about a state of IMBALANCE within all of your ‘Big 4’ hormones which include cortisol, estrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormone. There is a powerful cascade effect that occurs when one or all of these hormones fall out of balance. For example, sometimes this doesn’t have to do with having TOO MUCH estrogen, but too much cortisol which may be inhibiting ovulation (maybe by not having ENOUGH estrogen) and then causing a lack of progesterone. When that progesterone is low, it cannot oppose the estrogen’s effect on thyroid binding hormone (learn about that in BMB too!) and causes thyroid levels to plummet too (but in essence there is NOTHING wrong with your thyroid)…..see where I’m headed here??
What to do
THE NUMBER ONE THING TO DO HERE IS :
Step back, take a look at your whole life…..assess all aspects of your health. We teach you how to do this in Baby Making and Beyond’s Core 4 (Sleep,Stress, Movement, Nutrition & Supplementation)
In the situation I mentioned above, t’s common, and something I’ve even done as a practitioner to simply say well, if progesterone is low, let’s give you some progesterone….WAIT, STOP, why not simply address the root cause of the low progesterone which is 90% of the time related to STRESS.
If you have to prioritize one thing, make it STRESS REDUCTION . Stress is toxic to our hormones and our fertility. Women in particular are also much more biologically sensitive to stress than men are. Stress is a total epidemic in our society, which is likely why things like estrogen dominance are getting so much attention these days. It’s critical to find a stress management plan that works for you. In the BMB program we have an entire module dedicated to stress management. Personally, I use good nutrition, rest, movement and meditation as my medicine. Since doing this I no longer take any supplements for hormone balance (I used to take DIM/CDG ect). I find that my lifestyle change has had a much greater effect than any supplement ever could. If you’re having a hard time managing your stress levels, reach out. There are lots of us out here ready to arm you with some powerful tools to help you cope.
There have also been some interesting studies lately about the types of LANGUAGE we use (both when talking to others and ourselves) or are exposed to and both or cortisol and progesterone levels. This is another reason to always practice gentle loving kindness in your life both towards yourself and towards others. If you are surrounded by negative people, consider changing your people. If your partner is negative or says things that make you feel rejected, sad or hurt, talk to them about going to therapy together or help them to understand the power that language has on your mind and body. People are capable of great change when they are motivated to change.
While stress reduction will really arm you with most of the tools you need to rebalance your hormones (remember this takes 3 months MINIMUM), there are some supplements and dietary modifications that I’ve talked about on previous posts that can help too. Working with a practitioner who understands all of this and having appropriate testing done is CRITICAL to really target your treatment plan and get to the meat of the issue for you.
Good luck! If you’ve re-balanced your hormones, feel free to share what you did in the comments below.