3 tell-tale signs that your hormones are out of whack
What your monthly ‘report card’ is telling you?
As a Naturopath specialising in women’s health, I’ve learnt a lot about the importance of listening to your body. Some queues are more obvious than others, for example you may have a rumbling tummy, signalling that you need to eat, or yawning, suggesting you need to rest. Our bodies are constantly sending us messages and it’s critical that we listen, even when the signs are less overt.
For us ladies, one of the best ways to understand our hormonal balance and listen to our bodies queues is through our natural periods. To clarify what this means, this is having a period after ovulating. A natural period isn’t a pill bleed when ovulation has been suppressed such as when using synthetic hormones in the contraceptive pill. Symptoms, or lack thereof, around your period are a great way determine your hormonal health. Consider this a ‘report card’ of the previous 1-3 months. No Symptoms = A+!
3 tell-tales signs that your hormones may be out of balance are:1. Timing of your period or the length of your menstrual cycle.
If your periods are coming 1x per month, that’s great! It shows that your body is ovulating regularly and you’re less likely to have ovarian issues such as Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). However, if your cycle is irregular varying from as little as 2-3 weeks apart, to up to 6 months between periods, it can indicate that your ovaries aren’t happy and that your hormones are out of whack.
The main event in your cycle is ovulation. The point for fertilisation and reproduction. Your hormones all rally around getting ovulation to happen and priming the body to have a baby, every cycle. You can break down your cycle even further by looking at the phases that you roll through – to explain this in depth would be a whole other article.
Healthy normal signs around ovulation include clear cervical mucus discharge, sometimes ovulation sensation and an increase in libido. We can also track ovulation through monitoring our basal body temperature at rest each morning on waking, ovulation prediction kits which are urine tests and salivary test kits.
When we’re tracking our cycle from day one, we can pinpoint signs and symptoms when ovulation has occurred to get the length of our follicular phase. After ovulation we begin the luteal phase where the popped follicular bubble in the ovary produces progesterone. Progesterone then comes to balance out the high oestrogen levels of ovulation and helps to prepare, by thickening and nourishing the endometrial lining of the uterus for implantation of an embryo.2. PMS in the lead up to your period
You may experience PMS symptoms from a couple of days prior, to a week or so before the onset of your period. Before your period starts, your body must metabolise a lot of hormones, both oestrogen and progesterone. Depending on the levels of these hormones and how efficiently your body metabolises (mainly via the liver and kidneys), influences the symptoms you experience.
We are impacted both physically as well as emotionally by our hormones. Physical signs of hormone metabolism issues especially with oestrogen, include sore breasts, fluid retention, headaches, pain in the abdomen or lower back, feeling inflamed in muscles and joints, skin breakouts below the nose, around the mouth and along the jawline. If we haven’t metabolised oestrogen efficiently and we’re “oestrogen dominant”, then we can experience these unpleasant symptoms. Emotionally, we can suffer too. This can feel like heightened irritability, anger, frustration, agitation, anxiety and can impact our sleep.
Progesterone is really like the saviour to our PMS and balancing out oestrogen, if oestrogen is inflammatory to the body and mind, progesterone is anti-inflammatory, helping everything to calm down and relax.
3. The quality of your period.
This will determine what has happened hormonally in the cycle prior. Things to look out for when assessing the ‘quality’ of your period include the heaviness of your flow, clotting, pain, colour and how long you bleed for. If our hormones are out of balance with high oestrogen levels prior to the start of the period, then that period can be a lot heavier, more painful, you can experience clotting, as well as nausea, migraines, and a prolonged flow for 7 days or longer. The best way to observe your period is through wearing either period undies or pads and checking when you go to the toilet and wipe.
A menstrual cup can help determine the heaviness however it’s harder to see clotting and colour as its all mixed. On the flip side of this, a very light period can indicate low levels oestradiol (the good oestrogen). Lower progesterone levels prior to a period starting can be observed as brownish spotting/discharge for days prior to bright red flow, heightened pain, fatigue, and prolonged brownish spotting or discharge dragging out at the end of the period.
Addressing hormone imbalances can be done with an experienced practitioner. This involves monitoring symptoms, and correlating it with specific blood, saliva or urine tests timed appropriately throughout your cycle. Depending on your symptoms, you may need to adjust your diet, address lifestyle choices such as alcohol and caffeine intake, modify your exercise routine, work on improving your sleep or implementing strategies to manage stress. Your practitioner may also be able to guide you to specific herbs and nutrient supplementation to support your body to restore the balance naturally such as Fem21 – a herbal drink blend I’ve formulated to help women regain control of their hormones, naturally.
Written by Meah Robertson, a Naturopath specialising in Women’s Health & Creator of Fem21. shop now