"We don’t know what we don’t know”. This phrase often comes to mind when I begin working with a new client. I am seeing a 38 year old woman. She came to me because she and her husband are trying to conceive. They have not been successful so she is concerned about her sex hormones and wants to know what to do holistically.
After a through intake, it seemed likely that she was producing too much cortisol; she was insulin resistant; and had gut dysbiosis.
What does all of this have to do with her sex hormones she wondered? Maybe you, reader, are wondering this too?
Let’s take a little relatively simplistic, ride through a woman’s body… you will see that all of these interact and react to each other. It is a fascinating system that works beautifully if we allow it to. If there is an imbalance in one area there will be an imbalance in another area. Interconnected, interdependent, interwoven inseparable.
We will start with cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced in your adrenal glands. It is released in response to a stressor: mental, physical, environmental, real, or perceived. Cortisol does several things in the BodyMind. We need cortisol. Chronically elevated cortisol is detrimental. Why?
Shuts off digestion
Degrades the intestinal lining by creating chronic inflammation
Creates gut dysbiosis
Creates insulin resistance
“Steals” the mother hormone pregnenolone thereby diminishing production of sex hormones
Can halt ovulation – interestingly many women do not know that you can have a period without ovulation. This is called an anovulatory cycle. If you do not ovulate you do not produce progesterone.
Can cause cycle irregularity.
Next, we will go to insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in your pancreas. It is released in response to carbohydrate consumption. We need insulin. Insulin resistance is detrimental. Why?
Muscle cells do not readily allow glucose in creating hyperglycemia more insulin is released creating hyperinsulinemia
The glucose is allowed into fat cells = increased fat cells = weight gain generally around your middle the “Apple Shape”
Increased fat cells = increased leptin “I am full hormone” resistance
Increased fat cells = increased estrogen production = can lead to estrogen dominance or at the very least PMS – heavy painful periods, cramps, migraines, irritability, functional hypothyroidism. And estrogen-dependent cancers, such as estrogen dependent breast cancer.
Insulin resistance creates elevated levels of a potent form of testosterone, known as dihydrotestosterone, which creates back acne, facial acne, male pattern baldness, facial hair. If all of this continues a woman will experience PCOS
Cravings for sugary, fatty foods = elevated insulin = elevated cortisol = inflammation = gut dysbiosis
Finally, the gut. As Hippocrates says, “All disease begins in the gut.” What does your gut have to do with your hormones?
You estrobolome is in your gut. It is responsible for getting used estrogen out of your body. Gut dysbiosis creates an excess of a certain type of bacteria known as beta-glucuronidase which “re-actives” estrogen that is supposed to be secreted and sends it back into your body for circulation. It is not supposed to be there. This can lead to estrogen dominance. (See above)
If you are not eliminating every day you are not excreting toxins or used hormones. Recirculating toxins = inflammation = elevated cortisol. (See above).
If the health of your gut is not optimal you are not digesting your food properly. Undernourishment = hormonal chaos. Undernourishment = not safe = do not ovulate. Your body will always prioritize survival over reproduction.
Your gut bacteria are responsible for 90% of your body’s production of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Serotonin makes the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for your ability to fall and stay asleep. Along with cortisol, it regulates your circadian rhythm.
If your gut wall is damaged – known as intestinal permeability or leaky gut = chronic inflammation = chronically elevated cortisol.
So, you see it is all intertwined. A woman must be treated holistically. We cannot look at one part without recognizing its effect on everything else. Inseparable is defined as, “unable to be separated or treated separately”. That is the meaning of holistic.
If you are interested in becoming a Womens Holistic Hormone Health Practitioner – we need you!
If you want to balance your hormones without drugs that do not and will not ever treat the root cause - contact me.