Feel like your hormones are out of balance?

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

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During teenage years, while your period is getting established, and during perimenopause, some months may feel like a roller coaster of emotions, while other months might be problem-free. Does this sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Periods can take time to settle into a normal routine; the routine may be thrown into disarray during perimenopause. However, life doesn’t have to be a continual roller coaster. Understanding how your hormones impact you can help you to balance out the highs and lows.

There are lots of hormones involved in making your period happen: follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH), progesterone and oestrogen are key drivers.

FSH and LH work together, encouraging your ovaries to produce eggs and to produce oestrogen. Oestrogen is sometimes known as a “happy hormone” – it boosts serotonin and dopamine, two of the feel-good hormones produced in our brains. Oestrogen also helps our bones, muscles, heart, sleep, skin and metabolism. You have more oestrogen during the first half of your menstrual cycle (your cycle begins on day one of your bleed); you might notice you feel stronger, happier and your skin is clearer during this time.

Progesterone is released after you ovulate. Ovulation means an egg is released from your ovary, around 14 days before your period starts. While your period is getting established, there may be some months when you don’t ovulate, and that’s ok. Also while your period is getting established, you may have some longer cycles, some heavier and some lighter bleeds. That’s also ok, you’re unlikely to fall into a regular pattern from your very first period. During perimenopause, ovulation doesn’t always occur, oestrogen fluctuates and progesterone starts to decline.

Progesterone helps your mood, metabolism, bones and nervous system. Progesterone has a calming effect, so may improve your sleep and help you to relax.

During the first half of your cycle oestrogen is slowly increasing, stimulating the lining of your uterus to thicken. After ovulation, oestrogen drops and progesterone starts to increase. Progesterone’s main job is to help nourish a pregnancy. If you don’t become pregnant, progesterone drops. This tells your uterus to shed its lining, resulting in your period.

PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome, is thought to be related to these hormonal fluctuations. Too much oestrogen may overstimulate us, causing irritability, headaches and fluid retention. And when oestrogen drops mid-cycle, it can bring down our levels of serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good hormones I mentioned above. Meanwhile, if we don’t have enough progesterone, we don’t have the opportunity to balance out the drop in oestrogen.

How can you help keep your hormones balanced?

  1. Use a period tracking app to get to know your cycle. Track all your symptoms – moods, pain, headaches, bloating etc, so that you have an idea of what happens and when.
  2. Eat a good mix of complex carbohydrates (wholegrains, starchy veggies like potato and sweet potato, peas, beans, legumes, fruit), protein (lean meat, eggs, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds) and quality fats (oily fish such as salmon, extra virgin olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds) – you need all these food types for a healthy period.
  3. Aim for 5 serves of vegies as many days of the week as you can, including lots of dark leafy greens (rocket, dark green lettuce leaves, spinach, kale). 1 serve = 1 cup of salad or ½ cup of cooked vegetables. Vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre, all of which you need to help keep your hormones happy and healthy.
  4. Aim for 2 litres of water daily – hydration is essential for every cell in your body!

Most important, get to know your cycle – how you feel, what you feel, when you feel, which foods and activities make you feel better or worse. The more information you have about your cycle, the better you can support yourself when your hormones fluctuate.

And of course, for personalised advice, book an appointment with me via the Consultations page. I love nothing more than helping my clients to create hormonal harmony.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

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