Women around the world report many of the symptoms below and what I hear is:
My hormones are out of whack!
Here’s what they report:
- I feel exhausted and sometimes feel like my energy is “buzzing” at the same time.
- I have lost my libido.
- I have hypothyroidism
- I’ve been told I have PCOS
- My periods are heavy, unpredictable, long and painful.
- I am suffering from hot flashes, inability to sleep through the night, and I’m just not feeling myself
- Sex is painful and my vaginal dryness is no fun
- I feel anxious, have brain fog, and find it difficult to focus
- My moods are all over the map and irritability is high
- I am getting acne, rashes or hives for no reason
- I am constantly gassy or bloated, no matter what I eat
- If i’m lucky i poop once a day, but often less
- I crave chocolate, salty processes food & sweets like crazy
- My hair is falling out in clumps
- I have new hair growth on my face, abdomen and nipples
- My body, joints and muscles ache
- I’m waking each night, usually between 1-4 am, with my to-do list running through my head, or simply wide awake and unable to sleep (oh, girl, this was me for sure)
- I get light headed easily
- My breasts are super lumpy bumpy and tender
- I’ve been trying to get pregnant and can’t
This has been many women’s experiences for decades. Compound all of this with the amount of STRESS that we have all been exposed to over the past month or so — hormones are at an all-time high of being out of whack! Women lack energy, feel out of balance and have lost their libido for their life, their lover and themselves.
Our check engine light is on! This does not mean we take a hammer to it (i.e. put you are hormones like the pill or HRT). What this means is the body is sending an amazing message that it’s time to look under the hood. Thank you body….now what?
So, let me help you with some basic understanding of your hormones and give you 4 easy steps you can start taking today to hack your hormones and start feeling energized, balanced and turned on.
First, some basic education:
Did you know that pretty much all hormones come from cholesterol. So, it’s a good reminder that cholesterol is not all bad. Having the right ratio of cholesterol and keeping inflammation low is actually a great start to healthy hormone balance
Some of the main hormones are estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. They influence our energy, body fat composition, how we age, our brain health, bone health, our libido, our menses and fertility and skin health just to name a few.
- Estrodial (E2): This is the main estrogen measured in blood tests. It greatly effects menstrual irregularity, sleep disturbances, excess weight gain around the abdomen, hips and buttucks. This is the estrogen that is high in “estrogen dominance” and low with hot flashes.
- Estrone (E1): The estrogen of menopause.
- Estriol (E3): this is the estrogen of pregnancy
Balances the effects of estrogen and is often referred to as the relaxing hormone. It keeps uterine lining thick for implantation of a pregnancy. If there is no pregnancy, our progesterone levels fall and the lining of the uterus is shed, beginning the menstrual cycle.
Low levels can be associated with PMS, depression as well as menstrual migraines. High levels can be associated with weight gain, water retention, increased appetite etc.
An important sex hormone for both women and men. Is produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands, and has a surge at time of ovulation and slight rise just before the menses. Testosterone helps women maintain muscle mass and bone strength, enhances sex drive and helps with overall sense of well-being and zest for life. It has also been associated with a womans’ experience of orgasm.
High levels can increase moodiness, irritability and aggression as well as cardiovascular risk and male pattern hair growth.
Low levels decrease libido, energy and have been associated with increased inflammation.
Other Sex Hormones
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) - released from the pituitary gland in the brain, helps an egg prepare to be ovulated.
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH) - also released from the pituitary gland in the brain at ovulation, causes the release of the mature egg from the ovary.
What Are They: Thyroid hormones are responsible for energy and metabolism. They also influence temperature control, hair/skin/nails as well as mood.
The thyroid takes iodine, found in our diet, combines it with an amino acid, tyrosine, and converts it into T3 and T4. The thyroid also produces Calcitonin, which is involved in helping to regulate levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood.
TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which is produced in the pituitary, helps to regulate the thyroid.
Your provider may want to look at the lab values of your TSH, Free T4, Total T3, Free T3, TPO (thyroid peroxidase antibodies) and Thyroglobulin Panel (includes thyroglobulin antibodies and thyroglobulin). If your thyroid is over producing thyroid hormones, your T4 and T3 will be high. Your pituitary will reduce the TSH production to “stimulate the thyroid gland less (hyperthyroidism). On the other hand, if your thyroid is getting a bit sluggish, your T4 and T3 will be low. Your Pituitary will send out more TSH in hopes of “waking up the thyroid” to produce more hormones (hypothyroidism).
What Are They: The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys. They are responsible for helping us manage stress, regulating our blood sugar and blood pressure, and help us produce sex hormones. The most commonly referenced adrenal hormones include cortisol, adrenaline, and DHEA
Keep in mind that the adrenals are part of the H-P-A axis. The hypothalamus, the pituitary and the adrenals. When you see the hormones that are put out by the pituitary (LH, FSH, thyroid hormones as examples), you see how interconnected it all is.
Cortisol – is a hormone that regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body, including metabolism and the immune response. It also has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress. Think of “fight, flight or freeze”.
This hormone is the precursor to estradiol and testosterone. It is considered an androgenic adrenal hormone. Receptors are also found in the brain and the bone. It’s secretion naturally and normally diminishes starting at age 30. In women, by the time they reach menopause, it has decreased by 60% on average.
There is no feedback loop with DHEA, so those with low DHEA will remain low unless we support the adrenals or replace DHEA. It has been known to help atrophic vaginitis without increasing estrogen levels!
Is also known as 25-hydroxy Vitamin D3. Yep, it’s a hormone, not a vitamin.
It acts like a hormone in the body and plays a large role in immune function, energy level. Mood as well as bone health, autoimmune conditions, and even MS and gastrointestinal conditions like Crohn’s disease
Insulin & Glucose
These play a part in how the body breaks down carbohydrates and puts on fat. They can be out of balance of course in Diabetes, but also well before a woman reaches that point.
Leptin & Grehlin
Leptin decreases your appetite by communicating with the hypothalamus to say “there is enough stored energy and the body doesn’t need more calories”
Grehlin increases your appetite. When your stomach is “empty”, it sends a message to the hypothalamus to increase appetite and eat more.
Now, let’s hack these hormones and feel our vibrant selves!
Lets feel energized, balanced, vibrant, fertile and turned on by our life, our lover and ourselves. What are some easy things to do?
To be honest, you might be surprised, but if you want to help your hormones function at maximal capacity, you’ve got to…
…start with your gut health.
It is the main brain, it’s a production center, it holds the key to absorbing the nutrients you are eating and plays a huge role in regulating your overall well being…and that includes your hormone balance.
In my 8 week program, we do a deep dive into specifics of how to sooth your gut, but to make it simple, take the bad stuff out and super flood your body with the good stuff. Eat plants, a lot of them and a lot of variety. Eat quality fats, hydrate well and ensure you are consuming adequate probiotic and prebiotic rich foods. Chew your food well and slow down. Give your gut a rest at night while you sleep and you might also consider trying lemon or apple cider vinegar in your water
Then, nurture your adrenals.
If your body is constantly in “stress mode”, i.e survival, it could care less if your hormones are healthy, you’re ovulating, feeling great and have a lively libido. My friend, if your adrenals are not cared for, you are simply in survival. The adrenals are part of the HPA axis, so remember this also effects your thyroid.
So try barefoot walking and forest bathing. Practice gentle body movement. Drink a morning adaptogen elixir every morning, Want my recipes, just fill out this form. Work through any past trauma and keep your blood sugars stable through the day.
You can also remove “stress” by removing inflammatory foods, filtering your water and adding antiinflammatory foods. Also, turn off the dooms-day-news, and start practice gentle self talk. Find your go to for stress management such as meditation, yoga, journaling, or putting on your deflector shield (teflon suit).
Support your liver.
This is how you get rid of the excess hormones as well as process out all the chemicals and endocrine disruptors you are exposed to every day. How, it’s quite simple really: remove processed foods, alcohol, sugar and endocrine disruptors. Replace them with fiber-rich and color-rich plants. Start a rhythm of a regular liver detoxification and rejuvenation.
Some little tips….that you might find amusing…
- Increase testosterone- maca powder
- Increase progesterone- vitex, ginger, cinnamon
- Balance estrogens, quality phytoestrogens (ground flax, red clover, primrose oil, non-GMO organic soy)
- help the liver with turmeric and broccoli (cruciferous veggies) as well as nettle infusion tea.
- Add adaptogens
If you are at a chapter in your life where you are ready to take your health on in a new and fully committed way, I would love to have a conversation with you to explore if it might be a good fit for me to help you move from exhausted to energized, balance your hormones and feel turned on by your life, your lover and yourself.
If you feel open…maybe slightly nervous to try, but ready to feel great, schedule a call with me today and let’s see if we can tackle this together.
Maraya is the co-founder of Beyond The Red Tent, one of our esteemed experts on our Hormones & Wellness Summit, a Yale Trained Certified Nurse Midwife, with her Masters in Nursing and her undergraduate in Marketing.
She has attended births and practiced as a women’s health provider for 13 years. She has taught at the Chinese Medicine College on the Big Island of Hawaii and is in the process of getting her Certification through the Institute of Functional Medicine. She is also a mom of 3 young children.
Maraya has just launched on online Women’s Energy, Hormone Balance and Libido course and is opening up exploration calls now to find the right first 5 women to enter during these turbulent times.