I had a new patient come into my office this week. A lovely, sweet young woman, she was concerned about her fertility and hormone health because since coming off the Pill, she felt "like a crazy person" 3 weeks of the month. She sat in my office and said "It's not enough. It's not fair that I only get one good week a month. What am I doing wrong?"
She is right. So many women believe they have to put up with their periods. The cramps, the mood swings, the bloating (although in my books, you NEVER need an excuse to wear comfy pants!), the crappy libido... we're often told that we just need to suck it up.
If we're expecting to have an average of 450 menstrual cycles throughout our lifetime (minus pregnancies) it is simply not enough to put up with feeling awful.
The first step is information. Our sex-ed classes often focus so much on STI and pregnancy prevention (thankfully that's changing) and dry biology lessons that fail to teach young girls how to read their body's clues.
Here's what IS normal:
Hormonal imbalances like low thyroid function, anxiety (YES, this can be caused by hormones!), heavy periods... or periods that have gone MIA or are ridiculously painful, infertility and mood swings from hell are NEVER normal.
These things are common, but certainly not normal. A healthy woman that eats well, exercises the right amount for her body, gets enough rest (this is NOT just Netflix time), quality sleep and generally takes care of her body should not be experiencing these things. And she knows it.
Masking it with medication is not the answer. Nor is powering through it for yet another awful cycle, or being told that she's crazy for asking questions about her ahead or being irrational or a hypochondriac.
The answer is HONESTY. Has "everything" really and truly been tried? Consistently tried? For how long? If she is still drinking coffee like a Gilmore Girl or wine like a leading lady on Sex & The City, staying up too late or pretending that everything is OK because she's on the Pill "to regulate" per periods we're not being honest.
Honesty with your health care provider should look like open communication, a commitment to lifestyle and dietary factors FIRST and if things are not improving, looking at the right tests. Looking outside the box where necessary. Consistent follow up and frank discussions about what is normal, what isn't. A completely personalized approach to fit YOUR needs.
Coming from a 15+ year personal history of hormonal issues that resulted in so many missed periods, crazy hair loss, weight gain and terrible acne, I WISHED a physician back then would have taken this approach with me. Not that anyone was negligent... far from it. Most just didn't have the right tools.
This same progressive approach that I take with women every. single. day. in my practice. The person-centred, I-actually-give-a-damn-about-you approach that helps you get back your cycle, get pregnant, age with grace, keep your sex drive and grow into the (boss) lady you are meant to be... it WORKS.
If you are experiencing anything else, you may have a subtle.. or more obvious.. hormone imbalance. Your period should NOT be a nightmare.
Let me help. Set up a complimentary Health Discovery Session with me.
I love this video. Keep in mind that many of the symptoms we consider "normal" like bloating, acne and moodiness CAN be modified with an individualized Naturopathic plan to keep you feeling at the top of your game.
Menopause and thyroid dysfunction: one is inevitable for women (if we are lucky to live that long) while the other is common. Both affect millions of women every year.
The thyroid gland, which sits low in the neck, is considered one of the master hormone glands in the body and affects everything from our metabolism, cardiovascular function, the immune system, digestive health, mood and our body’s stress response. The thyroid especially affects our sex hormones.
Menopause typically occurs for most women in their late 40s to early/mid 50s but can also be surgically or medication induced and involves dramatic changes to our sex hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, and cortisol. As these fluctuate many women start to experience symptoms that we commonly associate with menopause: mood swings, hot flashes, irregular or heavy menses, vaginal dryness and changes in hair and skin. Because these symptoms frequently occur, it is easy to confuse “common” with “normal” and chalk it all up the change. Not so fast.
The thyroid gland acts like the thermostat of the body and is particularly vulnerable under times of stress. Major stressors like giving birth and being post-partum, being a student, mid-life, post-illness or surgery often coincide with major hormonal transitions like pregnancy, puberty, and menopause. When our body is under stress our thyroid gland kicks in to either rev us up or slow us down if we are in danger of burning out. Living a fast-paced life, many of us become susceptible to both sex hormone imbalances and thyroid disturbances.
If our sex hormones are imbalanced, our thyroid function will be affected and vise versa. For example, depression, weight gain (particularly around the middle), scalp hair loss, body hair growth, menstrual irregularities, poor concentration, osteoporosis, fatigue, insomnia and low libido are common to both hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) and menopause.
Since these patterns tend to be related to stress, it’s crucial to practice stress-reduction techniques and self-care (check out my Calm the F Down Self Care guide here), exercise and eat healthily. More importantly, however, we must determine the cause of these symptoms: poor thyroid function? Sex hormone imbalance? Both? Rather than spending time chasing your tail and taking unnecessary medications, it makes much more sense to determine the root cause of your symptoms.
Getting a proper assessment is critical in establishing YOUR best course of action. In particular, I find the DUTCH Hormone test and a complete thyroid panel especially helpful. You may also want to look into these other tests for fatigue and hormonal imbalance. Often bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can be a game-changer for women throughout the peri-menopausal years and beyond to help restore quality sleep, balance moods and reduce heavy bleeding.
Thyroid and hormone imbalances are common and can be improved when working with a Naturopathic Doctor as part of an individualized treatment plan to age gracefully with plenty of energy as you enter this exciting time of life.
Sound like you? Have questions about your thyroid or hormones? Book a complimentary Health Discovery Session with me to chat more about your options.
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Dr. Keila Roesner is a Naturopathic Doctor. When not treating patients she is also an enthusiastic barefoot-strolling, music-loving, yoga-doing kitchen wiz - who also happens to be a wrestling fan.