Hormone Science: A Woman's Guide to Hormone Imbalance
We often hear the term 'hormonal' thrown about in conversation, with many of us even blaming a cranky mood or an emotional outburst on our hormones. However, these symptoms we are experiencing, while accepted as 'normal' can be addressed naturally. In this article we will be discussing what 'hormonal' actually means, and what can we do about it.
What are Hormones?
Our bodies require a great variety of different hormones to function daily. Think of them as chemical messengers. They are made in various glands and then sent to the key parts of the body to help control how that system works.
The pituitary gland is responsible for producing the initial hormones which control many of the body's main processes. It secretes hormones which act, among other things, on the adrenal glands and ovaries, which in turn produce estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. An imbalance of these sex hormones is what causes our 'hormonal' symptoms.
How Do Sex Hormones Affect Me?
We often hear these words thrown about: estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Yet, many of us do not know what it is these individual hormones do and how they each affect us.
Estrogen controls the growth and development of female sexual characteristics like the breasts and pubic hair and also regulates our mood, the reproductive system and the menstrual cycle.
Progesterone plays a part in sexual desire and is key in helping your body prepare for pregnancy, thickening the lining of the uterus to accept a fertilized egg. If there is no fertilized egg, progesterone also helps to trigger menstruation.
Testosterone is usually thought of as the male sex hormone, but women also have a small amount of it. Healthy levels of testosterone help maintain your sex drive and cognitive health while promoting the growth of healthy bones.
Causes of Hormone Imbalance
Your body may, for some reason, be making too much estrogen or you may be taking in too much through birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy.
Xenoestrogens are another culprit of estrogen dominance. Xenoestrogens are substances which mimic estrogen and are found in everyday household products and cosmetics, such as skincare treatments, plastics and food additives.
Symptoms of high estrogen include:
- weight gain
- loss of sex drive
- depression or anxiety
If you are experiencing high estrogen:
- reducing or eliminating alcohol can help lower estrogen levels
- cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower
- whole grains have fibrous compounds which may block estrogen
- leafy green vegetables
- citrus fruits – oranges, lemons, grapefruit
The most common reason for low estrogen levels in women, apart from surgical removal of the ovaries, is the menopause. Symptoms of low estrogen include:
- scant or no menstrual periods
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- mood swings
- dry skin
- reduced sex drive
- vaginal thinning and dryness
If you are experiencing low estrogen, you may like to incorporate these estrogen-increasing foods into your diet:
- dried fruit – prunes, apricots and dates
- soy products
- peas and beans
- nuts – pistachio, walnuts, hazelnuts and chestnut
As a knock-on effect of high estrogen levels, the level of progesterone can decrease. This can be caused by xenoestrogens, stress and over-exercising.
Symptoms of low progesterone include:
- irregular periods
- foggy thinking
- low sex drive
- dry skin
- brittle nails
- weight gain
- joint pain
If you are experiencing low estrogen, you may like to incorporate these progesterone-increasing foods into your diet.
- lean red meat
- dark chocolate
Try a supplement
If you want additional natural support, Xtend-Life's Hormone-Support for Her contains ingredients which work together synergistically to help support overall hormone balance. Suitable for all women, this natural alternative helps to relieve PMS and menopausal symptoms, while supporting women's reproductive function.
In good health.
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