Hormones 101: What Every Woman Should Know About Her Hormones
Your hormones. You can't see them or touch them, yet somehow they can make our lives heaven our hell. Either turning you into a sex crazy machine, a sobbing mess or sparking a chocolate fueled binge at 3.00am.
As women we have learnt to fear our hormones. After all, we've all seen someone with premenstrual range, crippling period pain, or unexplained weight gain. Maybe you have experienced these symptoms too. It can often feel like our hormones are out of our control, or that being 'hormonal' is a part of being a woman. This is where our limited hormonal education has failed us and our societal taboo of sex, blood and libido has held us back.
I truly believe that all women should know and understand their hormones, so they can be empowered by their hormones rather than disillusioned by them. I hope that with further education we can help women heal their hormones rather than using last ditch resorts like hormonal contraceptives or organ removal.
So, welcome to hormones 101. Here, you will learn the basics of your hormones, how to identify if your hormones are out of balance, and other helpful insights to help you get back in touch with your body.
Your Hormones Are Your Best Friend, Not The Enemy
Hormones are more than the baby-making or menstrual causing creatures we know. Your hormones are little messengers which run around to every organ and cell in your body, telling them what to do, how to function and what to prioritize.
Your hormones keep your skin glowing, weight stable, libido and mood high. They also control how well your sleep, your blood pressure, bones, immune system, energy levels, metabolism and even how we think and feel everyday.
Your hormones effect your whole body, which is why it is important that we wok with them, rather than against them to live the biggest, fullest most juciest life we can.
Hormone Balance Is More Than Just Estrogen and Progesterone
Your Main Sex Hormones
Oestrogen: Oestrogen is the main female sex hormone. It is produced in abundance during the first half of your cycle to prepare your body for ovulation. Oestrogen prepares your eggs and builds up your uterine lining each month. Oestrogen also plays a role in sex drive, skin, mood, bones, energy and sleep.
Progesterone: Progesterone is our feel-good sex hormone which is created around ovulation. It helps to balance out the oestrogen we created at the first part of our cycle. It is our natural anti-anxiety hormone which is crucial for fertility and pregnancy.
Testosterone: Although testosterone is the main male sex hormone, women need this hormone too. As women we need testosterone for energy, endurance, muscle growth and libido. In excess, it can create symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome and excess facial hair.
Thyroid Hormones (TSH, T3, T4): Not technically considered a sex hormone, your thyroid is responsible for your metabolism and energy. Your thyroid plays an important role in ovulation and female hormones. If your thyroid is out of balance, your sex hormones are out of balance too.
Your Main Stress Hormones
Stress hormones are produced from your adrenal gland, a little gland that sits on top of each kidney. Our stress hormones help us deal with stress from all sources; mental emotional, physical, environmental, infectious or toxic.
Your adrenal glands also helps produce small amounts of sex hormones, particularly after menopause.
DHEA: DHEA is a building block hormone that helps us create testosterone and other hormones like estrogen and progesterone.
Cortisol: Cortisol is our stress & energy hormone. It peaks during times of stress, but also in the day time to keep us alert and awake, to control our energy, blood sugar, immune system, inflammation and mental clarity.
Adrenaline: Similar to cortisol, Adrenaline is our fight or flight hormone and helps us cope with short term stress. It is associated with rapid heartbeat and anxiety.
The Contraceptive Pill Does Not Fix Your Hormones
Despite popular belief, the contraceptive pill does not actually fix your hormones. The contraceptive pill works by shutting off your ovaries, making you reliant on artificial progesterone and estrogen. By preventing your natural fluctuations it can prevent symptoms of PMS, acne, heavy menstruation or mood signs. This is only a short term fix! Once you come off contraceptives you will still need to address your root causes for hormone imbalance.
Hormonal Symptoms Are Not Normal
It's true! Period problems, heavy bleeding, premenstrual tension and mood swings are not a normal part of being a woman.
Here are some signs of hormonal imbalance to watch out for:
Period Problems; Irregular, Heavy, Scanty or Missed Period
Painful Menstrual Cramping
Low Energy, Fatigue, Anxiety, Depression, Low Mood
Acne, Skin Discoloration
Dark Hair Growth, Snail Trail, Chin, Jawline, Nipples
Insomnia, Hot Flushes, Night Sweats, Excessive Sweating
Premenstrual Symptoms; Moodiness, Irritability, Sugar Cravings, Sore Breasts,
Bloating, IBS Symptoms, Diarrhea, Constipation
Difficulty Loosing Weight, Unexplained Weight Gain
If you are experiencing hormonal symptoms it's time to dig deeper!
Every Woman Should Know Her Hormones
Since our hormones play a vital role in how we think and feel everyday, it is important to know if our hormones are in balance.
Testing your hormones is a great way to start. This information can give us direct insight into how your hormones are functioning so you can better understand where you are right now. Testing takes the guess work out of your hormones so you can identify the root causes for your hormonal symptoms.
Blood Testing Cannot Give You The Whole Picture
The standard blood test is a great first step but it still can't give you the whole picture when it comes to your hormones.
Here, at Functional Naturopathy we offer the most comprehensive dried urine testing (DUTCH testing).
This test will check 41 hormones; 11 adrenal hormones, melatonin, 4 creatinine markers, 2 progesterones, 9 oestrogen metabolites and ratio, 8 androgens and testosterones, 3 neurotransmitter metabolites 3 and nutritional organic acids.
We also offer full comprehensive 90 minute Naturopathic assessments where we can put together the pieces of your hormonal puzzle so you don't have to!
You Can Heal Your Hormones
Hormones can be confusing and often it is hard to decipher everything on you own, but it doesn't have to be this way!
Here, at Functional Naturopathy we are passionate about helping women rise up and take control of their hormones and providing them with simple solutions to bring their body back into balance. Our role is not to treat your symptoms or use band- aid fixes but to help find out and target your underlying root causes.
And we are with you every step of the way! When you book a consultation we will;
Do a comprehensive analysis and physical assessment (90 minutes) to help determine the underlying imbalances for your body.
Provide you with an easy to understand report which explains your findings
Provide you with Testing Options
Analyze & Interpret your Test Results & Present them to you in a Report
Create a tailor-made personalized care plan just for you including diet, lifestyle supplements and herbal remedies.
Support you with follow up appointments
So, are you ready to take the next step on your health journey? Let's do this!
Meet the Naturopath
Storm is a Naturopath & Medical herbalist who focuses on women's health and wellness.
After being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome she is now passionate about helping women find their root cause, balance their hormones and feel at home in their bodies. She provides support both online, and in-person from her clinic in Palmerston North, New Zealand.