Cycle Series: Why YOU Should Care About Hormones

So you're in your twenties and you're definitely not thinking about menopause. I get it, sister. Hopefully reading this super info-dense blog post will help you see and understand exactly what role hormones play in our bodies. Hint: it's HUGE.

Hormones control SO MUCH MORE than just our emotions and "mood swings". 

WHAT ARE THEY?

Hormones are proteins that our body creates that live in our organs and tissues. These proteins control:

  • growth
  • fertility
  • sexual function
  • emotions
  • the absorption of nutrients
  • skin health
  • cardiovascular function
  • endocrine function
  • basically everything else

Hormone disorders or imbalances are very common and can vary from a diagnosable imbalance (like PCOS) to something that is a bit more "general" like adrenal fatigue. 

Here are a few symptoms of hormonal imbalances. You could experience one, a few, or all of these. Every body is different, so even if you have PCOS and your girlfriend also has it, you could have totally different symptoms!

SYMPTOMS OF IMBALANCE:

  • irregular (frequent, infrequent or absent) or heavy periods
  • excessive hair growth on face, chest, abdomen, or back
  • hair loss or thinning
  • weight gain or loss
  • cystic acne
  • indigestion
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • darkening of the skin around the groin, under the breasts, and in the creases of the neck
  • skin tags
  • infertility
  • uterine bleeding (not due to menstruation)
  • tenderness of breasts
  • osteoporosis
  • vaginal dryness
  • vaginal atrophy
  • change in sex drive
  • pain during sexual intercourse
  • fatigue
  • hot flashes or night sweats
  • poor metabolic function

That's a LOT of symptoms, and you know what? I hope that shows you how IMPORTANT it is to make sure that our hormones are balanced. YES, it is in your control. You may not be able to completely fix a condition if it is already years down the line, but you can most definitely alleviate symptoms and even reverse conditions with your lifestyle, relationship with stress, your body image, and the foods that nourish your body.

TOP CAUSES

    • insulin resistance (imbalanced blood sugar)
    • chronic inflammation
    • chronic stress + living in a constant "fight or flight" state
    • prolonged or improper use of birth control pills
    • androgen and other steroid-type hormones
    • thyroid hormone
  • Other causes
    • presence of tumors
    • certain medications
    • chromosomal defects
    • exposure to chemotherapy, radiation, and other toxins in the environment (cleaning products, skincare products, foods, etc)
    • inflammation
    • autoimmune disease

MOST COMMON CONDITIONS:

1. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): this is by far the most common hormonal imbalance in females. It causes irregular periods, ovarian cysts, weight gain, and fertility problems. PCOS affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. This number is constantly growing due to the misinformation around insulin and how it relates to today's recommended diet (the food pyramid! YUCK). 

  • Chronically elevated insulin due to blood sugar irregularity causes the ovaries to over-produce androgens, like testosterone. 
  • "Fad diets" like intermittent fasting, keto, Atkins, and even vegan are to blame for a lot of insulin confusion in young women. This constant yo-yo effect of eating imbalanced meals (protein-fat-carbs) puts enormous strain on our organs to make up for what is missing. Did you know that eating extremely few carbs or going hungry for too long causes the female body to break down it's own liver to create sugar. Let's not.

2. Thyroid disease: this includes both hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) and hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone). 

  • The thyroid cannot function properly without a healthy, vibrant liver. You know what kills our liver? Stress, undernourishment, eating tons of processed foods, restricting any food groups, and toxin overload.
  • Taking tons of supplements can actually be your enemy with thyroid issues. Why? Because our liver can't extract vitamin B from a pill. It's just not that simple. We have to EAT OUR NUTRIENTS. More on this later!

3. Endometriosis: is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus.

  • The root cause of endometriosis is a mystery to the medical world, however in doing some research among women who have reversed this disease, we found that the KEY is metabolic function.
  • Low or poor metabolic function is a result of many different things and can be different for each person, but it is the one answer we were able to find!

BOTTOM LINE:

The female body is so much more powerful and incredible than modern day studies have shown. With the rise in all these hormonal diseases, we know one thing for sure: MODERN MEDICINE HAS GOTTEN IT WRONG. Supplements cannot heal a problem that food and stress has caused. 

Let's continue on this journey together! Please read up and learn along the way. Here are a few incredible resources for all of the above information:

Kori Meloy, @korimeloy on Instagram

Jessica Ash Wellness

Dr. Ray Peat

Join us this Tuesday (March 15) at 7 pm AST as we speak to Chela Mendes, who has been living and thriving after a PCOS diagnosis. 

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