Let’s Talk Hormones!

Hormones are “chemical communicators or connectors” that carry messages to and from organs.  So why is it women usually speak of them with hushed tones? An open dialogue about the role of hormones, their imbalances and the toll perimenopause exacts is needed to share knowledge.

Btw, if you are in your 20’s and are about to click off because who gives a shit about olds,  if you’re on a birth control pill or ring etc,  you’re already manipulating hormones enough to fool your body into thinking it doesn’t need to drop an egg. That’s pretty powerful stuff when you think about it.

If you were a girl who got her period maybe a little younger than your peers, whose body exploded into tits and ass, BAM! And you have dramatic painful periods, are  super ‘moody’, feel ‘hysterical’ and so on,  there’s a chance you might be rocking a hormone imbalance.

It’s up to you to be your own advocate. Even with all the breakthroughs in medicine, doctors are more likely to suggest you take an anti depressant than order a hormone panel, that’s problematic to say the least. If you’re feeling depressed, gaining or losing a ton of weight for no reason, feel anxious…. No matter your age, insist your doctor run a panel.  Hormones can get wonky from a variety of factors and may seem to you or others like solely an emotional issue. Feeling crazed? Get your panel done!

We’re pretty quick in the states to use pharmaceutical pills that mask symptoms, leaving the real culprit unchecked. If you’re considering an SSRI,  getting a panel is doubly important. A simple plant based bio identical hormone could be your salvation. Insurance usually covers the cost, but check with your doctor on any or all of this, of course.

Another thing that affects your hormones is Perimenopause, the transition toward no more periods, Menopause. This can happen in your early 30’s through early 50’s.  It can be jarring to say the least. you might be experiencing amped up PMS like symptoms  27 days a month because your hormones are bouncing around as much as when you were going through puberty. It means fertility is waning, and if you’re over 40,  live in America, that means you’re viewed by society as 2 seconds from full on crone status complete with the invisibility cloak of a middle aged woman, which y’know… is weird.

Steven R. Goldstein, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Medical Center in New York City spoke with WebMD.com about perimenopause and stated “Every woman thinks that it’s the sudden drop in estrogen from not ovulating that causes the problems. But in reality, it’s the fluctuation of estrogen, along with less progesterone, that is behind many of the typical symptoms of perimenopause,” Goldstein says. These symptoms, he tells WebMD, include not only mood swings and sensitivity, but also hot flashes, night sweats, and memory problems.

A hormone imbalance had a profound effect on my health when I dealt with a gnarly case of fibroids, benign tumors that grow in and around the uterus. Mine had taken over,  putting pressure on organs, wrapping around the spine and impinging my hip socket.  The general school of thought from progressive doctors is you don’t get a cranked out uterus like that without a hormone imbalance, usually an Estrogen dominance, oh,  and by the way,  fibroids are one of the top  causes of infertility and miscarriages. The old school of medical thought was, ‘We don’t know why they happen, just be happy it’s nothing more serious, it mostly only affects black women, blah blah, blah…’.  While I’m always and forever grateful they’re benign, I’m super bummed I had to get info on the fibroid-hormone connection so late in the game.

In my case there was way too much Estrogen, an Estrogen dominance, and zero Progesterone, which is also called the feel good hormone. I did not, in fact, feel good. I was crying all the time, anxious and couldn’t think straight. That’s what one missing  hormone can do! Once I began a plant sourced progesterone supplement and cut out estrogen rich foods that might add to the imbalance, like soy and dairy, (a moment of silence for malted milkshakes)  I felt and started to look like ‘me’ again. I was able to get off weight that’d been stuck, which also helped, as fat stores and releases estrogen.

Last year I had a friend in her 30’s, a successful business woman, mother and full on type A personality tell me she felt out of sorts, not like herself, was prone to bouts of crying,  and no appetite as she was very anxious. This was all very out of character for her and I could see why doctors offered Xanax etc. When I suggested she get a hormone panel she said she’d had one in the last year and that wasn’t the issue… But it sounded exactly like what I’d been through. Hormone levels can slide dramatically in just one year, so I urged her to get another test and in 9 months her levels had changed from normal to very low Estrogen, she got on a bio identical hormone and within weeks felt like her old self more or less.

Here’s a Web MD link to a less anecdotal take, it’s not the most thorough, but it’ll get you started on how the things we eat also influence hormones. Honestly I LOVE dairy, but for me feeling better in my body was worth giving it up.

Besides cremes or pills, there’s also a host of herbs like Black Cohosh that help abate symptom, they didn’t work for me but they might be the only thing you need to feel like yourself! Cameron Diaz has a  new book out soon addressing the subject and here’s one by Suzanne  Sommers, because I finally get how she a  zillion hawking natural hormone cremes .   xx Rachel