There are many female hormonal conditions. Conditions include amenorrhea, PMS, perimenopause, and PCOS. The ones below are just three of the main ones I see in clinic. Regardless of the condition, how to treat hormone imbalances starts with the same theory. I do not treat the disease but the individual and their presenting symptoms. It is always important to remember you are not your disease and everyone has different biochemistry, therefore no two treatment plans are the same.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder in females of reproductive age. It is a complex reproductive, endocrine, metabolic and psychological condition. Women with PCOS have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and body image issues. Insulin resistance has been implicated in PCOS. PCOS represents the most frequent cause of irregular or absent menstrual periods and infertility.
For diagnoses, ultrasound can be used to check for polycystic ovaries. Blood tests include androgen levels, thyroid function, prolactin, FSH and glycaemic status. There is no specific test as it is a group of symptoms related to lack of ovulation and high levels of androgens (testosterone, DHEA s).
Main symptoms include:
- irregular periods, late periods or too many days bleeding
- hirsutism (excessive facial and/or body hair)
- hair loss
- weight gain
Risk factors include:
- endocrine disrupting chemicals eg pesticides, BPA, plastics
- genes can put you at risk for PCOS, genes determine how easily you can ovulate. Expression of genes depends on your environment. The good news about PCOS genes, as you get older you may become more fertile.
Treatment depends on the type of PCOS you have. Your practitioner needs to consider your type eg are you insulin resistant, do you have irregular periods, do you have inflammation, do you have high androgens, do you have inflammation and were you on the pill? As PCOS can vary per person the best thing is to consult a practitioner. Some nutrients a practitioner would consider include magnesium, zinc, NAC, fish oils, curcumin, vitex, peony, and licorice. If you have insulin issues quitting sugar is essential. Exercise is also important in all types of PCOS. If you are expressing symptoms of PCOS it does not mean you always will. With the right plan, you can have regular periods and your symptoms can be improved or treated completely.
Endometriosis is an inflammatory disease and affects 1 in 10 women. It is a condition where the uterine lining tissue, grows in places other than the uterus including the bladder and bowel. These can be called lesions. Its main symptom is the pain. It is a pain that is severe and can last many days. It affects a person’s life quality as it often means taking days off work or being unable to perform daily activities.
Other symptoms include:
- diarrhea and/or constipation
- bladder problems
- bleeding between periods
There is no known cause. It appears to be associated with immune dysfunction. There is also a strong genetic component to it.
Hormones do play a role in endometriosis although it is an inflammatory disease. Estrogen stimulates the growth of lesions.
There currently is no cure. Treatment can relieve the symptoms. Surgery is a conventional approach but it is not a permanent fix. The lesions grow back and often surgery is repeated.
In managing the symptoms reducing inflammation is key. Avoid cow dairy, gluten and consider avoiding eggs. Nutrients that a practitioner may consider include turmeric, zinc, NAC, selenium, alkaline minerals, vitamin D and fish oils. It may also be useful to check for histamine intolerance.
The transition to menopause can be problematic but menopause itself can be symptom-free (perimenopause is for another post).
During menopause levels of estrogen and progesterone are much lower.
Some symptoms include:
- hot flushes – magnesium and taurine may be useful
- vaginal dryness and reduced libido – seabuck oil may be prescribed
- weight gain – if you gain weight around your middle it is likely due to insulin resistance (the drop of estrogen likely to be the reason). Therefore treatment will be based on address insulin resistance.
- osteoporosis is worth noting here as you can lose up to 10% of your bone density during the first five years of menopause. Therefore consider a resistance training program and seek advice on bone health. Further risk factors for osteoporosis include smoking, alcohol, SSRIs, PPIs, deficiencies in D, zinc, magnesium and vitamin K2.
Hormonal conditions are complicated and as mentioned at the beginning of the post, the best approach to manage it will depend on your hormonal profile. If you’d like to discuss if nutritional medicine may be appropriate for you please make a booking for a free 15 minute discover call.
Alternatively, download your free hormone reset guide which explains the main hormones and simple steps you can start now to find balance to feel yourself again.