Hormone balance

Female hormone imbalances are incredibly common - to the point that a large majority of women I see have some degree of hormone imbalance.

Does this sound familiar?
  • Irregular periods or no periods - for your entire life, spontaneously, or after going off birth control

  • Painful periods or heavy periods

  • PMS - mood changes, water retention or bloating, breast tenderness, appetite changes, and/or acne​​​

  • Hot flashes

  • Low libido

Why hormone imbalances are so common

There are a number of factors:

  • Stress.

    • Our culture has become fast-paced and focused on productivity, often at the expense of leisure time. Over time, stress causes altered hormone production, in part by "stealing" the building blocks of hormones in order to cope with stress.

    • Poor sleep or abnormal sleep patterns can also play a role, although hormone imbalances can also cause poor sleep.

  • Environment.

    • Hormone disruptors are now present in everything from plastic food containers, soap, cosmetics, and fish. While we can't avoid everything, it's possible to reduce exposure.

    • There can also be actual hormones present in water, which are then absorbed into the body.

  • Hormonal birth control​

    • While hormonal birth control provides many benefits, it can also affect natural hormone production. Long-term use also depletes certain nutrients that are required for getting rid of excess estrogen as well as for making progesterone. This is why many women struggle with regaining a normal menstrual cycle after coming off hormonal contraception.

  • Reduced ability to detoxify

    • Our bodies are constantly working at detoxifying, and they're usually pretty darn good at it. The challenge comes when we're exposed to more than our bodies can keep up with. Unfortunately, this scenario is very common given all the chemicals in our air, food, water, body care products, furniture, and more. Our detoxification pathways are essential for getting rid of extra hormones, as well as toxins that can alter hormone production.

    • Genetic anomalies can also make it difficult to detoxify properly.

  • Diet

    • North American society has shifted more toward processed and sugary foods, leading to a lack of nutrients while often having excess calories. While many people are aware of this and are striving to eat whole foods, ​this can still play a role.

    • Some animal foods naturally contain hormones. Excess consumption of these foods can contribute to hormone disruption.

Treatments

In addition to addressing the factors discussed above, there are plenty of options to encourage your body to reestablish a healthy hormone balance.

Step one is determining what kind of hormone imbalance you have. Is your estrogen too low or too high? Is your progesterone too low or too high? Are both too low? Sometimes symptoms give a clear enough indication to start treatment, while other times we may need to test your hormones (through blood, saliva, or urine) to determine what is going on. Hormone testing options range from simple (a blood test for a few hormones) to complex (a full breakdown of your hormones and their metabolites).

Once we have an idea of where your hormones are at, treatment may involve supporting proper hormone metabolism/excretion, giving you the building blocks to make hormones properly, supporting other hormone systems that affect your reproductive hormones. This can be done with food, supplementation, and shifts in lifestyle. Acupuncture is also a powerful option for reestablishing healthy menstrual cycles and easing menopause symptoms.