A note to the gents – this post is geared towards women, but a post for hormones and men will be coming soon.
“But my doctor tested my hormone levels and said they were fine, so they must be normal right?“ Does this sound familiar? It certainly sounded like me. I had really bad acne issues, terrible PMS and menstrual cramps, and yet I was told that everything was just dandy.
The message given to most women today is that PMS is normal, that there is nothing wrong with a pre-menstrual mood swing or tender breasts, and that we just need to learn to live with or medicate heavy, painful periods. The common solution provided is to go on the pill to regulate your cycle, but that is not exactly getting to the root of the issue. Nor is it providing your body with an opportunity to naturally rebalance itself.
I’m here to tell you that there are other options. Options outside of ‘the pill‘, ‘medication‘ or ‘learning to live with it‘. Options that will provide a window into exactly what is going on with your hormones, and solutions to rebalance them naturally.
Clues You Have a Hormone Imbalance
First, let’s go over some of the clues that you might have a hormone imbalance. What you might consider the more obvious symptoms are:
But check out these other symptoms that also might indicate a hormone imbalance:
Weight gain Dry Skin/Hair Anxiety Depression Night Sweats Headaches Irritability Mood Swings Sleep Disturbances/Insomnia Fluid Retention/Bloating Fatigue Loss of Memory Bladder Symptoms Arthritis Harder to reach climax Decreased sex drive Hair loss Difficulty concentration Foggy thinking Tearful Acne Decreased muscle mass Bone loss Thinning skin Sore Muscles Rapid aging Aches and pains
That is a lot of symptoms! My guess is, if you are reading this blog, you probably have more then a few.
So what can you do about your hormone imbalance?
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The first step is to test! You want to get as much detailed information as possible about what is going on from the hormone side of things. Which is why I recommend a hormone test known as the Dutch test. This test gives you a comphrensive hormone analysis through the urine. This is one of my all-time favourite functional lab tests, because it offers a plethora information about hormones, adrenal function, and so much more.
I know what you are thinking. Why do a Dutch test when I can just go to my doctor and run bloodwork. Let me give you a few reasons why I don’t jump on the serum (blood) testing bandwagon.
Conventional blood testing does provide you with the basic levels for the total and free sex hormones of estadiol (E2), progesterone and testosterone. The problem is that the reference ranges the lab uses to determine what levels are acceptable and what are not, is not exactly an indication of true health. You see, in order to determine what ‘typical’ results are, the lab surveys the general population. However, the general population, especially in this era, is not exactly a walking picture of health and vibrancy. So the lab results are only a reflection of what is average amounts the surveyed population, and not what is healthy. Functional lab ranges, like those indicated on the Dutch test, will reflect what is optimal, versus what is typical.
Serum testing is also limited in the level of detail about hormones it can provide. Here are some examples of information that urine testing like the Dutch test provides that serum testing does not:
Free/(unbound) cortisol levels: This will give you an indication of how much of this hormone is actually available for use. Knowing your total cortisol level doesn’t tell you much if 99% of it is unavailable to the cells. It’s important to know both your total and free cortisol levels
Hormone metabolites: Knowing your hormone levels is important. But just as
important, if not more important is the information provided by your hormone metabolite levels. For example, the Dutch test measures 3 hormone metabolites of estrogen. One estrogen metabolite (4-OH-E1) can trigger cancer, while another estrogen metabolite (16-OH-E1) can promote cancer growth. So understanding the estrogen metabolite pathway in your body can be extremely useful.
You can also determine what’s going on with your androgen metabolites. For example, someone with a high level of 5 alpha-DHT might show symptoms of androgen dominance like acne, hair loss and facial hair growth, even though their testosterone levels might be within a ‘normal’ range.
The Dutch test also tells you how your body is methylating estrogen. This is also important information to know, as it is an indicator of whether you body can further breakdown any of your harmful estrogen metabolites, like cancer causing 4-OH-E1, into non-harmful molecules.
You can see how the hormone situation is much more complex then simply looking at the levels of your basic sex hormones. I don’t recommend completely forgetting about serum testing all together, as it still is some value. Blood testing can look at a few markers that urine testing can’t. It can determine levels of luetenizing hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). LH and FSH markers can be important when ruling out pituitary issues, and SHBG can tell us how much testosterone is bound up and unavailable . However, adding a urine test to your hormone exploration will provide you will a more comprehensive understanding of exactly where your homrone-related symptoms are coming from.
And the good news is, if your hormones are imbalanced, there are natural ways to address this imbalance, through herbs and lifestyle changes.
Interested in learning more about your hormones? Click below book your free discovery call today to discuss how you can complete a Dutch test.