Women’s hormones with Jade

12 Apr 2019
women's-hormones-jade

Women’s hormones with Jade (Luxton Clinic Naturopath & Nutritionist)

What are the most common hormone imbalances that you see in clinic and what sort of symptoms/conditions can these present with?

PMS (Premenstrual syndrome) is one of the most common conditions I see in clinic, together with endometriosis, Dysmenorrhea (painful or heavy periods), PCOS, infertility and menopause. These conditions present with a number of different symptoms and are often dismissed as ‘normal’. I really encourage my clients to pay attention to what signs their bodies are saying and then give them strategies to bring their bodies back into balance. Hormonal symptoms are not something you should suffer with.

Common signs of hormonal imbalance in women include: irregular, painful, heavy or absent periods, breast tenderness, emotional imbalances, sugar cravings, acne during or just before menstruation, constipation or diarrhea, hot flashes, night sweats, increased hair growth (face/chest or back), infertility, weight gain or a combination of all of the above. 

Are heavy periods and period pain normal? Is this something that you work with commonly in clinic?

Dysmenorrhea, or painful periods is very common with painful, debilitating cramping periods being one of the leading causes for female school and work absenteeism. While it is common, it should not be considered ‘normal’. 

There are two types of Dysmenorrhea. Primary Dysmenorrhea is pain that is not associated with pathology and Secondary Dysmenorrhea refers to pelvic pain related to underlying pathology and exacerbated by menstruation, such as endometriosis, IBS or uterine fibroids.

Excessive oestrogen exposure throughout the menstrual cycle is thought to be the primary driver of dysmenorrhea. In clinic my treatment focus involves suppressing prostaglandin secretion and/or supporting ovulation, reducing inflammation and addressing any underlying disorders.

Endometriosis seems to be so wide spread now, what can you do as a practitioner to support this condition?

Currently diagnostics estimate 1 to 10% of all women and 50% of infertile woman have endometriosis. However, an endometriosis diagnosis is commonly delayed, as patients seem to be asymptomatic in the early stages and worsening menstrual pain is frequently normalised. Eventually a complex clinical picture emerges with a maze of pelvic pain symptoms &/or infertility.

Endometriosis is a chronic inflammatory disease. While historically, ‘oestrogen dominance’ has been implicated, new research reveals it is only part of the picture. Excess histamine, chronic immune activation and inflammatory drivers such as dysbiosis all need to be addressed and investigated on a case by case basis.

Are hormonal headaches something that you can work with?

Hormonal headaches are usually linked to the drop &/or fluctuation in female hormones oestrogen and progesterone right before your period. The degree to which these levels shift, not the change itself, determines how severe the headache or migraine can be.  In clinic there are several treatment options we can try depending on the regularity of your menstrual cycle, whether or not you have painful or heavy periods, or if you have menopausal symptoms. 

Can a long or short cycle be something that you can alter by balancing hormone levels?

The length of the menstrual cycle can be a key indicator to hormonal imbalances and whether or not ovulation is occurring in a regular manner. Typically our menstrual cycle should be 28 days long with ovulation occurring around day 14. Ovulation will occur earlier in shorter cycles and later if at all in longer cycles. 

Not only do these hormonal imbalances cause problems with ovulation and therefore fertility, but they also increase the risk of miscarriage. As a practitioner balancing your hormone profile is highly important to achieve a healthy pregnancy and maintain a regular 28 day cycle.

Do you see many patients who have lost their period? What are some common causes of this?

When a woman loses or doesn’t have a period, this can be caused by a failure to ovulate. Hormonal imbalances (inadequate oestrogen or elevated prolactin) can cause irregular periods and also stop cycles completely.

It is common in women who are considered underweight or who have low body fat to stop having a cycle.  Impairment of the hypothalamic/pituitary axis, caused by high stress, excess exercise, malnutrition/extreme weight loss or autoimmune conditions may also play a major role in absent periods.

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