Hormonal imbalance is an issue that most women will face at one point or another in their lives. Female hormones are a complex system with so many different factors affecting the way each hormone functions in the body. When one hormone is not functioning properly, it effects all the other hormones and can lead to an imbalance. Environmental toxins, the foods we eat, stress, and genetics all play an important role in how our hormones operate.
IS PMS NORMAL?
Did you know that women are NOT supposed to have PMS? Many women believe its normal to experience PMS every month. But that is a misconception. More often than not, PMS occurs due to hormonal imbalances within the body. These hormonal imbalances can usually be addressed through nutrition, lifestyle, and stress management. Women should not have to live with the dreaded and painful symptoms of PMS. By addressing these imbalances, we can learn to embrace our cycle and harness the energies that we experience throughout each phase. Only then can we truly become more in tune with the language of our bodies.
MY HORMONAL IMBALANCE
I dealt with hormonal imbalance for most of my teenage & adult years. As a teenager, I didn’t really understand what was happening internally with my body during my cycle. All I knew was that I was supposed to be menstruating every 30 or so days and that I would need to use something like a pad or a tampon to prevent myself from bleeding everywhere. Truthiness! It was never explained to me by my parents, or taught to me in school about what my body was trying to tell me during that magical time of the month. To be honest, my hormonal imbalance experience has never been as awful as some of the women I’ve talked to. I mostly just experienced a heavy period with intense cramps on the first day of my cycle and 30-40 day long cycles.
My PMS symptoms were definitely on the milder side of the spectrum, but they were still unpleasant. My emotions were always at an all time high the week before my period, and my anxiety levels would sky rocket. Initially, I attempted to fix the anxiety separate from the hormonal imbalance, but I realized later that the anxiety may have been a symptom of the hormonal imbalance. Additionally, the imbalance could have also been triggering my anxiety.
ABNORMAL PAP SMEARS
Another symptom I was faced with was abnormal pap smears. I had never had a pap smear before the age of 25, so I figured it was time to see how my lady bits were operating down there. I had three pap smears in one year, and all three of them indicated that I had abnormal cells, or LSIL (Low Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions). Basically this meant that I may have been infected with HPV and that I would need to have a colposcopy. I wasn’t really buying that I had HPV, and the nurses couldn’t give me much information. So, I made it my mission to figure out what can cause LSIL to appear on the cervix, outside of HPV. I was convinced that the LSIL could definitely be causing the hormonal imbalance I was experiencing.
In an effort to address other health issues I was facing (such as anxiety), I started performing a lot of my own research about the female body and all its intricacies. There are three books that truly helped me change the way I viewed my body and understanding my hormones.
BOOKS FOR NATURALLY BALANCING YOUR HORMONES
Womancode by Alisa Vitti
Fabulous book about how to perfect your cycle, amplify your fertility and supercharge your sex drive and become A POWER SOURCE!
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Minds, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup
Every woman should own this book. It is a bible, as far as women’s health is concerned. Christian Northrup sheds light on the mind-body connection and how our emotions affect our physical health. It touches upon everything from sexuality, spirituality, addressing PMS and menopause symptoms, birthing naturally, and so much more!
The Hormone Diet by Dr. Natasha Turner
This book is about optimizing your nutrition through healthy food to balance your hormones. It also provides a protocol for different types of hormonal imbalance, such as excess insulin, low GABA, low dopamine, low serotonin, excess cortisol, low DHEA, excess estrogen, low estrogen, low progesterone, excess progesterone, low testosterone, excess testosterone, low thyroid hormone, low acetylcholine, low melatonin, or low growth hormone.
MOOD & FOOD HORMONE IMBALANCES
These books, written by three amazing women, really helped to give me an education about my body’s physiology and how to get my hormones singing in almost perfect harmony through herbs and food. Through my research, I concluded that I was experiencing imbalances with my mood & food hormones.
a) Low Dopamine
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for producing happy chemicals. Having low dopamine made sense to me because I was suffering from anxiety and depression. I started increasing my intake of protein rich foods since they are high sources of dopamine and also started exercising regularly. Protein, foods rich in tyrosine (an amino acid responsible for producing dopamine), exercise, sex and massage can all help increase dopamine in the brain.
b) Low Serotonin
Serotonin helps to regulate mood, appetite, digestion and sleep. This also resonated with me because of my anxiety and depression. Eating unrefined carbohydrates can help boost serotonin levels in the brain. I started swapping my high glycemic carbs, such as white breads and pastas, for low glycemic carbs, like sweet potatoes and brown rice.
c) Low GABA
Gaba is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that produces a calming effect on the brain. To help increase my GABA, I tried to make more time for self-care and relaxation. I also tried to get myself on a regular sleep and wake schedule.
Additionally, I began focusing on ways that I could make my cervix healthy through vitamins and minerals. Some vitamins and minerals that were essential to my hormonal imbalance treatment were:
I can’t say enough good things about this mineral. I honestly feel that it was one of the KEY supplements in my regimen that truly transformed my hormonal imbalance. Zinc deficiency is considered a risk factor for cervical health issues, which makes so much sense to me as to why so many women (and men) experience hormonal issues. Zinc is an important trace mineral that plays a critical role in immune health and wound healing. About 2 months into supplementing every day with zinc, I definitely noticed that my menstrual cycle became more regular. It went from being 30-40 days long to being almost exactly 30 days in length.
Folic acid is a B vitamin that is responsible for DNA synthesis, red blood cell production, metabolism of proteins and healthy genetic expression. B vitamins are so important for energy production and mood balance. Low levels of folic acid have been linked to abnormal pap smears.
Vitamin C is very crucial for immune health. There have been some studies that show that Vitamin C plays an important role in cervical health. I try to supplement with Vitamin C as often as I can, especially during cold & flu season.
Vitamin D is crucial to proper cell functioning in our bodies. It is very important for immune function, mood, utilization of calcium in the body, pregnancy, etc. It also helps serotonin work more effectively in the brain. I’ve been supplementing Vitamin D pretty regularly for the last couple of years. I feel that it has made such a significant impact on my mood levels.
HEALING HERBS FOR HORMONAL IMBALANCE
Chaste Berry (Vitex)
This has been my go-to for dealing with cramps over the last couple years. I use it in a alcohol based tincture when I am on my period. I will usually dilute it in some water since it can be strong. It works wonders for period cramps! Chaste berry helps to increase dopamine and progesterone in the body. This makes it an excellent herb for women who experience depression or PMS during their menstrual cycles.
Rhodiola helps to stimulate serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which is helpful for women dealing with depression or mood swings. It is also a fantastic herb for cognitive function and promoting memory regulation. I use this whenever my brain starts to feel foggy, or if I need some extra assistance with focusing.
St. John’s Wort
Another wonderful herb for dealing with depression. St. John’s Wort is a heart tonifying herb, which means that it can help you deal with loss and grief. St. John’s Wort helps to prevent the breakdown of serotonin in the brain. I love St. John’s Wort. It was very helpful and healing to me after I lost my father two years ago.
If you follow my blog regularly, than you are well aware of my love for Ashwaganda. Traditionally used by Ayurvedic practitioners, Ashwaganda can help enhance mental and physical performance, and decrease stress and fatigue. I’ve used Ashwaganda to help my body manage stressful situations. Ashwaganda can be taken daily to help the body manage everyday stressors. It can help to reduce cortisol levels, increase thyroid hormones and help deal with sluggish metabolism.
EVERY BODY IS UNIQUE
All of our bodies are so unique and different. It is important that you seek out ways of healing that resonate and work for your specific body. Everything I have written here is based on my personal experience with hormonal imbalance and what has helped me along my journey. It is not a ‘one size fits’ all approach. I am an advocate of holistic wellness, and believe that there are multiple facets to healing. I am hoping to offer some help to those who may be experiencing what I have gone through.
“The world we have created is a product of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
– Albert Einstein
The content on this website is for educational purposes only. Not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or medical care practitioner.