Even though many articles on the Internet throw around terms like estrogen dominance, and make it sound super simple, the reality is that recognizing signs and causes of hormonal disturbances is a tricky thing.
Getting Symptoms and Causes Straight
That’s because hormonal dysfunction can cause a whole bunch of different symptoms – each occurring throughout the four phases of your monthly cycle, not just during your period.
We don’t always associate headaches, anxiety, afternoon sugar cravings, or chronic fatigue to what is going on with our periods throughout the month!
On the other end, problems with your period can actually be a byproduct of a problem with another organ system. For example, a liver that can’t metabolize and inactivate hormones and hormone-mimicking substances can be the cause of estrogen dominance (and is a common one). Similarly, chronic constipation or kidney problems can cause wonky estrogen levels by not effectively removing the already-deactivated hormones out of the body.
The body uses symptoms, sensations, feelings (not emotions, which are thoughts linked to certain feelings) and learned patterns of behaving to communicate what it needs. When we have symptoms, the body, has unfortunately already dipped into its reserve tanks and is starting to have dysfunction past the “symptom” tipping point.
That’s why getting rid of symptoms isn’t our only goal. We want to move you (as a soul and a body) into a state of health where hitting a bump in the road of life doesn’t throw you into hormonal meltdown mode.
Living on the Edge
When we live on this edge–or worse, well in the land of constant symptoms–the systems in our body are at best only able to maintain their current function.
Unfortunately that “at best” scenario is pretty rare when you don’t address ongoing underlying problems. Any further dip into reserves through a spike in the inflammatory response, stress levels (physical, as well as mental), or insulin release cause further damage to the systems of the body.
The good news is there’s a LOT we can do to help rebalance these important organ systems. Once you get a toolkit of food, lifestyle, and supplement options that work well for your body, you can get yourself back to feeling happy and healthy.
Sure, there will be times when life takes you on a spin so far off track that you lose some of those great reserves and backpedal into Symptom Land.
Real Life Example
I (Alex) just had this recently in my own life. Between getting ready to finish residency, running a business, and dealing with lots of life changes, my health suffered tremendously. I spotted for approximately 4 months straight. (Endometriosis has destroyed the majority of my ovaries, and all the organs in my pelvis are stuck together with adhesions, so my hormonal reserve runs very low for my age.)
The thing is, I love the direction my life is going in, and I’m obsessed with what I do. I’ve grown as a person in ways that I couldn’t have imagined and having to deal with my own hormonal health paved the way for a lot of what I’ve learned recently…and want to share with you.
I’ve had to bust out my own toolkit that I’ve built throughout the years to get back on track. Getting some updated DUTCH testing (a comprehensive hormone panel) was a huge help, and I was able to tailor what worked in the past with what’s going on currently in my body.
By going with the ebbs and flows of my cycle throughout this period of time, I understand what my body needs. I now have a better idea of how I’d like to integrate these health tools into my life. I don’t feel like I’m controlled by my food restrictions–which sets off my disordered eating history–and endless supplement schedule.
If you’ve accepted feeling crappy as your reality, it’s time to take another look at possible solutions. The next articles dive into the most common hormonal problems that occur for our ladies!
Upcoming topic in the series.
Before we get to that, let’s talk about what understanding your body looks like…the important article is up next!