Hormone Balance and PMS

Hormones naturally change and decrease in a womans life around menopause.  However many younger woman can also have imbalanced hormones.  Stress, oral contraceptives and exposure to xenoestrogens can all effect our hormones.

Some woman that experience PMS may have a hormonal imbalance.  Your Naturopathic Doctor can order a hormone panel in order to measure your hormone levels in your blood or saliva.   Once levels are known natural remedies can be used to help re-establish hormonal homeostasis.

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Some common hormone imbalances that can influence PMS:

Progesterone Deficiency

Progesterone is typically seen in high amounts during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle.  In some woman prolonged periods of stress may decrease progesterone levels (Truestar Health, 2013). Deficient progesterone can cause water retention, breast tenderness, anxiety, sleep disruption, heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged cycles and headaches (Dharam Kaur, S 2005).

Estrogen Dominance

Too much estrogen can arise from taking the birth control pill or other forms of medications containing estrogen.  Additionally, we are now exposed to many xenoestrogens such as BPAs found in plastics, pesticides and hormones in foods that can act like estrogens in our bodies.  Excess estrogen can cause irritability, aggression, weight gain and is also linked to uterine fibroid and ovarian cysts.  Other symptoms of excess estrogens can include blood clots and impaired blood sugar regulation.

Excess Prolactin

This hormone, typically produced when a woman breast feeds is also produced when she is under a great deal of stress.  Too much prolactin can cause infertility, breast tenderness and swelling and irritability.  Excess levels of this hormone can also cause increased cell division in breast cells causing increased breast density.

Cortisol Imbalance

Too much or too little cortisol can cause PMS.  Symptoms of too much cortisol can include: muscle weakness, thinning skin, elevated glucose, insulin resistance, tendency towards easy weight gain and lowered immune function.  Too little cortisol can decrease the ability to handle stress, increase cravings for stimulants such as coffee, caffeine and chocolate, joint pain, increased inflammation, hypoglycemia, rapid heartbeat and an increase in White blood cells.

Decreased Thyroid Hormones

Hypothyroidism, the under activity of the thyroid gland can cause symptoms of PMS, heavy periods or amenorrhea. Other Symptoms can include low energy, poor memory, dry skin, decreased perspiration, easy weight gain, intolerance to cold and constipation.

Works Cited

Turestar Health “Four Keys to Kick PMS” by Natasha Turner accessed May 27 2013 via http://www.truestarhealth.com/members/archives.asp?content=14ml3p1a97y

Dharam Kayr, Sat. The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Woman’s Health 2005 Robert Rose Publishing Toronto.

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Phytoestrogens and Hot Flashes

Hot flashes, or vasomotor flushes, affect 50-85% of menopausal women (Northrup, 2006).  The exact cause is unknown however it is thought to be related to neurotransmitter changes.

Phytoestrogens (naturally occurring estrogens in plants) can play an important part in a menopausal diet.  These plant derived estrogens weakly bind to hormone receptors in our bodies, causing a weak estrogen response in some tissues OR an anti estrogen response in other tissues (Hudson, 2006).  Significant amount of phytoestrogens are found in soybeans and flaxseeds.  It has been found that in populations that eat a high amount of foods containing phytoestrogens, hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms occur less frequently (ie. it is hypothesized that Japanese women have a lower incidence of hot flashes because of the consumption of high amounts of soy).  A randomized, double blind placebo controlled trial showed that women consuming soy protein had a decreased incidence of hot flashes, an increase in vaginal moisture and an improved quality of life (Dupree et al., 2005).

If you have a problem digesting Soy, ground flax seeds offer a high amount of phytoestrogens and can be added to cereals, oatmeal or smoothies.

Figure 34-17 Physiology of estrogen and the estrogen receptor. Estrogen binds to estrogen receptors in the cytoplasm or in the nucleus In:Townsend: Sabiston Textbook of Surgery, 18th ed. 2007 Elseiver