If you're asking yourself:
- why has my cycle changed?
- how come I have so much pain with my period?
- is this level of bleeding normal?
- when can I expect my next period?
- why am I so cranky and tired before my period?
- are breakouts at my age normal?
- where's all this bloating coming from?
- why can't I fall pregnant?
- is this peri-menopause?
First, what are hormones?Did you know, hormones have a role in your body for reasons other than reproduction? They are chemical messengers made in your body and used to communicate with your organs. These messengers are talking to the organs that control not only sleep, mood, energy, digestion, metabolism, and blood sugar but also your menstrual cycle and fertility. It's more common for women to know about their menstrual cycle hormones because when they're not working well, symptoms are usually quite obvious and disruptive. When to investigate It's not unusual for changes to happen with your cycle over your reproductive life, because hormonal changes naturally occur at different life stages as your body ages. Think about how different puberty is to peri-menopause. Consider if the symptoms you're experiencing are unusual for you or if you can relate the symptoms to something else happening in your body. Knowing what's normal for you and when to investigate is important. Ask yourself:
- where am I in my reproductive life stage?
- are the changes I'm experiencing considered normal for my age?
- are my symptoms impacting the quality of my life?
6 things that can mess with your cycle:
1. StressYour body makes the stress hormone cortisol in a similar way to other hormones. Everything ticks along nicely until you're under a lot of stress. Then your body will take the building blocks for making sex hormones and make cortisol instead. Leaving you with high cortisol and an imbalance in sex hormones.
2. Blood glucose controlUncontrolled blood glucose levels over time inevitably leads to weight gain and increased deposits of fat, known as adipose tissue. This creates inflammation in your body, which can switch on oestrogen producing enzymes.
3. Hormone detoxificationHormones are broken down and excreted via the liver. With poor digestion, food intolerances, excess alcohol, smoking and medications your liver's ability to detox is impaired. When the liver gets overloaded, hormones cannot be excreted efficiently. They go back into circulation, causing hormone excess and imbalances.
4. ThyroidLow thyroid function means low progesterone and increased oestrogen contributing to PMS and menstrual irregularities. Also, low thyroid function impacts the liver's ability to detox oestrogen and progesterone.
5. MedicationsCommon hormone medications like the Pill, Mirena or other devices are synthetic hormones down regulating your body's production of hormones. There are side effects to these medications that impact how your own hormones function and make you feel.
6. Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs)EDCs are found in plastics, pesticides, household cleaning products, food additives and cosmetic products. They are linked to altered hormone function by mimicking the role of your real hormones in your cells.
- Go through the above checklist and see what may be affecting your hormones.
- Make changes to areas of your life that you can easily do.
- Seek clarification and support from a qualified practitioner if needed.
Is a Naturopath and Consistent Habit Coach based in Canberra. She supports women to take back control of their body and their health so they can live life to their full potential.
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