Most women know that hormones can affect how they feel, but hormone problems go much deeper than just mood swings or menstrual pain. Plus, they’re definitely not something women just have to put up with.
Women’s health expert Dr. Aviva Romm says that 80% of women have hormone problems at some point – they struggle enough to seek medical help, take medication, or possibly even have an operation.
“Hormone problems are so common that we just assumed that women would take them for granted,” says Romm, author of the new book Hormone Intelligence. She says there is a “hormone epidemic” – women’s hormones cause problems because they are unbalanced. She explains that many common symptoms women experience – from migraines to hair loss, weight gain to brain fog – are related to hormonal imbalances.
“It doesn’t have to be,” says Romm. “Taking a holistic approach that includes eating a hormone-healthy diet, supporting our microbiome health, and getting enough sleep and self-repair time can enable us to move from feeling like our hormones whipping us around to feeling comfortable and confident in our bodies. while we align our hormones with our innate hormonal blueprint. “
Here are six common hormonal health problems women may experience, plus some romm lifestyle advice to help rebalance …1. Problems with the menstrual cycle
If you have fewer than 26 days or more than 34 days between periods, if your periods are longer than seven or less than three days, or if you have excessively heavy or extremely light periods, Romm says that you technically have an irregular cycle could.
If the changes cannot be explained by other factors or if they last for more than three consecutive months, she suggests that they should be investigated. She also points out that in women who have long had irregular menstrual cycles, “there is a good chance that you have an underlying hormone imbalance, or it is very possible that you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis. “
2. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Romm says more than 150 physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive symptoms have been attributed to PMS, including mood swings, anxiety, depression, changes in appetite, too much or too little sleep, and gas. However, the exact physiological causes are still unknown, although they are believed to be related to hormonal imbalance.
Dr. Aviva Romm (Wendy Yalom / PA)
“What we do know,” she says, “is that many factors have been shown to increase a woman’s risk of developing PMS, and that diet, lifestyle, and other approaches have been shown to reduce or stop it.”
3. Menstrual migraines
Although up to 70% of women with migraines also have the menstrual type, Romm explains that some only have the menstrual type, caused by dramatic drops in estrogen when levels were high after ovulation and before a period.
“Compared to non-menstrual migraines, the menstrual type tends to be heavier, longer, and less responsive to common acute drug therapies,” she says.
4. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
It is believed that PCOS can affect around 10% of women of childbearing age, although up to half may go undiagnosed, says Romm.
It occurs when insulin stimulates the ovaries while inhibiting the production of a protein that carries hormones such as testosterone and estrogen through the bloodstream. This leads to an increase in testosterone in the circulatory system, leading to symptoms such as weight gain, irregular periods, fertility problems, acne, hair loss, and hair growth in unwanted areas.
Women with PCOS are also at a higher risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, cholesterol abnormalities, and heart disease. “It’s a big deal not to be glossed over or simply treated with a drug,” Romm emphasizes.
In endometriosis, tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus – the endometrium – grows on the outside, often on the ovaries, intestines, or pelvic lining. This can start in your teens and is triggered by the menstrual cycle, says Romm. Wherever endometrial tissue grows, it thickens, breaks down, and falls off, just like the lining of the uterus does during a period. However, because it does not grow in the right place, blood becomes trapped, leading to the formation of scar tissue and adhesions that can cause severe and chronic pain and fertility problems.
Romm says endometriosis isn’t just a hormonal problem – the inflammation it causes also affects immune function, and women who live with it can be at risk of other problems, including eczema, allergies, and autoimmune diseases. “Doctors so often overlook the diagnosis, and for many women, over so many years, early detection can help prevent and reverse damage,” she says.
6. Uterine fibroids
Fibroids are non-cancerous growths of muscle tissue inside or outside the uterus that can sometimes be as large as a grapefruit. They aren’t always problematic, but according to Romm, a third of women have symptoms of fibroids, which can include abnormal bleeding, abdominal pain, and an increased urge to urinate. She points out that fibroids are the leading cause of hysterectomies after cancer. “They’re another major sign that something is wrong with your hormonal ecosystem, usually imbalances in blood sugar / insulin and elevated estrogen.”
3 ways to balance your hormones
If you are concerned about any of the above conditions or any other hormonal issues, contact your doctor. Treating hormone-related health problems isn’t always consistent, but here are three things that Dr. Romm can be useful.
Try the hormone intelligence diet
“What you eat – or not – has a profound impact on your hormonal health,” explains Romm, who says women can balance their hormonal balance by eating a serving of protein (poultry, low-mercury fish, eggs, legumes). a healthy fat (like avocado / olive oil / ghee) and two servings of vegetables with each meal. She also recommends six to eight servings of vegetables per day and up to two servings of fruit, one to two servings of slow carbohydrates like grains, and some nuts and seeds – and make sure you eat a wide variety of different colored foods.
Reset your internal clock
Romm says that irregular and lost sleep as well as sleeping in unnatural light, noise or temperature lead to a desynchronization of the internal clock that keeps our hormones running. “Your female hormonal physiology is deeply tied into your circadian timing system,” says Romm, explaining that the loss of circadian rhythm affects how the ovaries make hormones.
To reset, aim for seven to nine hours of good sleep each night, go to bed and wake up around the same time, stay away from electronic devices in the morning and before bed, get as much natural light as possible, eat healthy and at constant times, and listen to your internal clock. So if you feel like you have less energy, rest or at least do it slower if you can.
Take steps to manage stress
Signs that stress is affecting your hormones include trouble sleeping and fatigue, brain fog, extra weight around your core, and back, neck, shoulder, and / or jaw pain.
“Even relatively short periods of stress can affect your sex hormones and cycles,” says Romm. “The latest stress research shows strong links to irregular periods, menstrual pain, PMS, endometriosis, fertility problems, PCOS, and more. We need to radically and proactively stand up for our health by getting out of a chronic stress mindset and consciously inviting inner calm and a slower, more rhythmic, natural rhythm of life, ”she adds.
As? Romm’s suggestions include assessing your priorities and “paying attention to your inner landscape” by asking yourself how you are feeling and then trying to relax yourself through mindfulness, a bath, yoga, dancing, or anything else that does calms you down. “If you want to bring hormonal health back into your life, reducing stress must be a commitment,” she says.
(HarperOne / PA)
Hormone Intelligence: The Complete Guide to Soothing the Hormone Chaos and Restoring Your Body’s Natural Blueprint for Wellbeing by Aviva Romm is published by HarperOne priced at £ 20. Now available.