Updated: 4 hours ago
Working with people each day, every single case and concern is unique - no two people are the same. However, I often get asked the same questions so thought I'd share with you now - the five most common questions I hear about female health.
1. What are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers in the body. Women have two hormones which rule their life, oestrogen and progesterone and they are pivotal in the three main phases in a woman's development: menstruation, pregnancy and menopause.
At each stage there is a shift in the balance of oestrogen and progesterone. Oestrogen is primarily produced in the ovaries and is responsible for the development of female characteristics in the body such as breasts and the uterus. It also plays an essential role in ovulation when the egg is released from the ovaries and the period that happens after.
Progesterone is most often associated with pregnancy (pro-gestation). Progesterone can help the body burn fat for fuel, improve mood and reduce anxiety. It is the delicate balance of these hormones, in particular oestrogen which are responsible for many of the ups and downs throughout the month.
2. How do I know if my hormones are out of balance?
Women who experience severe PMS, heavy, irregular or no periods, acne on the jawline, breast tenderness, low mood and fatigue, fibroids, PCOS or in some instances infertility, most likely have hormonal imbalance.
A lot of these symptoms are often associated with oestrogen dominance, often caused by years on the contraceptive pill, digestive issues or poor diet.
Whilst the changing levels of hormones throughout the menstrual cycle can cause women to experience many of these unwanted side effects, it should be by no means ‘the norm’.
Many women think that it's ‘just something we have to deal with’ or ‘it’s always been like this’ making it acceptable, but it really isn't.
If you experience any of these symptoms for more than a day or two, it's highly advisable to get some nutritional support to improve them. I see a lot of women who have digestive problems that also have hormonal issues. That is because hormones, toxins and wastes are excreted through the bowel. If your metabolism is not functioning properly, then these hormones and wastes get recirculated in the bloodstream and wreak havoc. So if you suffer with any type of IBS, IBD and your experience issues around your cycle, then speak to someone about healing the gut flora and the rest will fall into place a lot easier.
3. I exercise regularly but I've been putting on weight rapidly, especially around my stomach. Is this hormonally related?
One of the most common manifestations of hormone imbalance I see in women is rapid weight gain, especially around the middle. What most people don't know is that weight around the stomach area is metabolic. By that, I mean it makes its own hormones and can cause inflammation in the body.
Rapid weight gain in this area is often linked with blood sugar imbalance. High blood sugar (from a high carbohydrate and sugar diet) can lead to more rapid weight gain and low blood sugar caused by fasting or under-eating can cause a cortisol and adrenaline spike which taps into the body's glucose stores in the liver and increases blood sugar.
Both are equally negative in the long run as blood sugar imbalance leads to insulin resistance, which leads to hormonal imbalance and the cycle continues. If you are exercising and finding that you are not losing weight then you may want to investigate further into hormone imbalance. Many women with PCOS have these issues and the doctors prescribe metformin, a diabetes drug but there are lots of natural methods instead. A modified keto diet can be great to shift the weight initially but it needs to be done safely and in a way to ensure you aren't tired or fatigued from not eating properly. Then long-term diet management with whole foods.
4. What is a ‘normal’ period and should I be worried if mine is different?
As with everything to do with the body, there is no ‘normal’ but there are several alarm bells that should ring if you experience any of the following:
Severe, heavy, painful periods with clots
Cycles that last less than 21 days or more than 35