“My hormones are out of whack!”
This sentence can come from a 25-year-old with irregular periods and industrial-strength PMS whose energy has gone down the tubes. Or from a 45-year-old (on the threshold of pre-menopause) who continues to gain weight even though she’s eating less and exercising more, and who adds that her brain feels like mush and her sex drive is a distant memory.
Many of my current patients have previously seen other doctors and were given prescriptions for hormones to “cure” these ills. Hormones came in the form of birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy (Premarin). Sometimes an antidepressant was thrown in for good measure.
This is definitely and categorically the wrong approach.
Measuring Your Hormones
Thyroid hormone testing Low levels of thyroid hormone (called hypothyroidism) are extremely common, causing fatigue, puffy facial features, a sense of feeling cold, dry skin and hair, weight gain, and irregular periods. Consider low thyroid especially if thyroid problems run in your family. Ask your doctor for these tests: TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), free T-3, free T-4.
Adrenal hormone testing Definitely under-appreciated by many physicians as a cause of chronic symptoms, especially fatigue, “crashing” in the late afternoon, salt cravings, and low blood pressure. Ask your doctor for these tests: DHEA, AM and PM cortisol levels.
Sex hormones testing If you’re in your late thirties, early forties, or beyond AND your periods are becoming irregular, two hormones produced by the pituitary (the master gland) are measured to determine if you’re entering menopause. Ask your doctor for these simple blood tests: FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone).
If you’re menstruating, the best test measures your hormone levels throughout a single cycle. The “Female Hormone Panel” by Genova Diagnostics supplies you with a take-home kit containing ten plastic vials to collect specimens of saliva over a period of one month.
Drug-free hormone balancing
You yourself can balance your sex hormones–estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone–by making some key lifestyle choices.
Taking these steps will also help you look and feel spectacular (exercise, good foods, and supplements really do work):
- Exercise every day Walking is fine. Whatever exercise you do, do it outdoors in the sunlight whenever possible.
- Eat a high-fiber diet including flaxseed, whole bran, beans, seeds, veggies, and fruits. These foods will actually improve your estrogen levels.
- Dramatically reduce/eliminate the amount of sugar you eat, including all forms of sugar and also high-glycemic foods, which rapidly convert to sugar. These are foods like potato chips and refined white-flour bread, pastries, and pasta.
- Eat more cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. These contain a substance called indole-3-carbinol that converts potentially cancer-causing estrogen to a form of estrogen that actually protects your breasts.
- If you eat a lot of grapefruit, stop doing so and limit yourself to once or twice per month. Research shows grapefruit blocks estrogen metabolism and actually increases the risk of breast cancer.
- Choose mostly organic produce, dairy, and meats (and wild-caught fish) to avoid exposure to chemicals, foreign estrogens, and antibiotics.
- Use filtered water (reverse osmosis) to avoid estrogen in the water.
- Increase your omega 3 intake by regularly eating cold-water fish and flaxseed oil, or by taking fish oil supplements.
The most useful daily supplements to help you balance your hormones:
If you are menstruating:
If you are in the menopause transition:
Our Chicago IL hormone doctor at WholeHealth Chicago have improved the quality of life for women in our community who suffered from various hormone related issues. After performing a comprehensive exam, a hormone doctor in Chicago IL from WholeHealth Chicago can determine whether hormone therapy is a viable treatment option for you.
Contact us at WholeHealth Chicago by calling 773.296.6700 to schedule a consultation with a trusted hormone doctor Chicago IL.