The Complexity of Female Hormones
From puberty, to periods, to menopause – hormones can pose a challenge for many women throughout their lives. You may be all too familiar with symptoms such as painful, heavy or irregular periods, premenstrual mood swings and bloating, hot flushes… and the list goes on.
Female hormonal conditions are complex and frequently frustrating for women. While hormonal fluctuations have traditionally been blamed, there is more to this story – many other factors also affect the subtle balance required for optimal hormonal harmony.
Riding the Hormonal Roller Coaster?
Do you feel you have no control over the ups and downs of hormonal change you ride through each month? Your symptoms may be related to one of these conditions:
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Includes symptoms of breast tenderness, migraines and mood changes prior to your period. PMS may be linked to lowered progesterone levels and is often made worse by stress.
- Endometriosis and fibroids. Women with these conditions often experience heavy, painful periods, pain throughout the month, bloating, and sometimes weight gain.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Missing periods, facial hair growth, sugar cravings, weight gain and difficulty conceiving are commonly experienced, due to higher than normal testosterone and lower progesterone levels.
- Menopause. Many women suffer from hot flushes, night sweats, and anxiety, as their periods come to a stop.
Musicians Distort the Melody
While different conditions are influenced by subtle changes in hormone levels, there are many other factors that also play a role. Likened to musicians in the orchestra playing out of tune, some of these come from your body – such as inflammation (e.g. from joint pain or digestive imbalance), being overweight, gut health issues such as SIBO, and feeling stressed.
The environment you live in can also play havoc with hormones. Toxins are virtually unavoidable and many, such as BPA (found in plastics, the lining of tins, and even on shopping dockets) have hormone-like effects and may negatively affect your hormonal balance.
A Fine Balancing Act
You can restore balance to address these factors and harmonise your hormones, while being more nutritionally balanced to keep your hormones in check. These nutrients can play a key role:
- Magnesium: is beneficial for ALL women, particularly as many have insufficient dietary intakes of this key mineral. Magnesium also provides relief from mood symptoms, period pain and hot flushes, to name a few. I often call it the ‘anti-stress mineral’, as it has such a calming effect while supporting our hormonal balance and sleep.
- Liquorice: help normalise testosterone levels, reducing excess facial hair, weight gain and promoting fertility in women with PCOS.
- Turmeric: supports healthy oestrogen metabolism and enables the liver to effectively remove excess oestrogens and androgens.
- Vitex: also known as chaste tree, this traditional herb helps regulate the menstrual cycle, and is often used to help reduce the moodiness associated with PMS.
The following extra tips are practical, achievable ways to help you restore hormonal balance:
- Eat organic foods, to reduce your consumption of added growth promoting hormones (in meats) and pesticides (on fruits and vegetables).
- Include foods in your diet that support hormonal balance due to their particular macronutrient, vitamin or mineral content. Some good examples are leafy greens, fish, eggs, cacao, chia seeds, nuts, seeds, and fibre-rich vegetables to name a few.
- Avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals found in plastics by using glassware for storing and reheating food and drinks.
- Reduce feelings of stress and anxiety with simple breathing exercises. One of my favourites is the alternate nostril breathing technique (Nadi Shodhana), that can connect the brain and body. I have seen so many people benefit from this as it effectively releases physical and emotional tension. If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s a short video that explains it with ease.
Our hormones are instrumental to our health and wellbeing. Embrace your health as a woman and be free from hormonal symptoms. Be the conductor of your own symphony orchestra – ensuring you create a harmonic melody and optimise your hormonal health!
Any further questions be sure to be in touch. I absolutely love helping women address their hormonal imbalances and health concerns.