Tag Archives: Hormones

Guide to Treating Common Female Hormone Imbalance

woman-865021_1920

I have shared my personal experience with birth control pills, and my journey to finding natural alternatives. I am pleased to say I have been off synthetic birth control for over six years, using the Fertility Awareness Method to track my fertility and prevent unwanted pregnancy, as well as gaining better balance in my natural hormones.

There are some incredible supplements out there that can help support your body to better balance your hormones. If you have recently gone off birth control pills, suffer from PMS symptoms, or get cystic acne prior to your period (those large pimples under your skin that really hurt), there is likely an imbalance in your hormones.

Hormones are very complex and work together in ratios. We can simplify the most common hormonal-imbalances in women to two primary issues: Low Progesterone or High Androgens.

 

Low Progesterone

Progesterone is one of the female hormones. It has several important jobs. It produces the ovaries, normalizes blood sugar levels, and allows for a healthy pregnancy. It is also naturally prevents anxiety and depression. This is the hormone that naturally increases to induce ovulation, and can be detected by tracking your Basil Body Temperature.

Common symptoms of low progesterone:

  • PMS symptoms (moodiness, bloating, cravings)
  • Painful breasts
  • Headaches
  • Low libido
  • Cystic acne prior to menstruation
  • Mental and physical fatigue
  • Weight gain around your waist
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping

 

How to Treat Low Progesterone:

There is a strong link between chronic stress and low progesterone. When your body is under a lot of stress, it uses the resources normally used to produce progesterone to produce cortisol instead.

  • Lower your stress
    • Practice self-love,
    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Don’t workout too hard too frequently
    • Quit caffeine
    • Reduce the amount of sugar you eat
    • Make sure you are eating enough calories
  • Try taking the herb Vitex (Agnus Cactus or Chastetree Berry) to help support progesterone production
  • Magnesium, B6, and Zinc, and Vitamin C are all needed to support your body in producing progesterone.

Take Fertility Blend for Women by Daily Wellness. This supplement contains Vitex, Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin B, and green tea. I took it for one month, and right away noticed I had no cystic acne prior to my period. I’ve been taking it ever since!

 

 

High Androgen

Androgens (such as testosterone) are male hormones that are found in both men and women. Androgens are produced in women through the adrenal glands and the ovaries. Androgens are often converted to estrogen, another female hormone. Androgens aid in the functioning of organs such as kidneys, liver, and bone-density.

Common symptoms of high androgen:

  • Acne
  • Excess hair growth on chin or upper lip
  • Hair thinning or balding on scalp
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Irregular periods
  • Blood sugar disorders (such as diabetes or insulin resistance)
  • High blood-pressure
  • High cholesterol

 

How to Treat High Androgen Levels:

Androgens are linked to sebum production in the skin. If the level of androgens are too high in our body, our skin produces too much sebum, which will clog pores and cause a breeding ground for bacteria – leading to acne. Eating foods high in sugar and carbohydrates will cause an increase in levels of androgens. Having high levels of “good” estrogens will combat the negative effects of androgens. We also have “bad” estrogen (xenoestrogens) in our body from living in a toxic environment (pollution, eating and drinking from plastic containers, taking synthetic birth control pills, etc).

  • Reduce “bad” estrogen in the body
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption
  • Eat a low-sugar and low-carbohydrate diet (low GI)
  • Use facial oil to unclog sebum in your pores.
  • Try taking a DIM (diindolylmethane) supplement

Estroblock is a supplement containing DIM (diindolylmethane). This is a substance found in leafy green vegetables. DIM works to reduce excess androgens as well as support your liver in removing “bad” estrogens. There has been a lot of hype on the internet over Estroblock, and it has helped many people get rid of their acne. I have used it for about two years, and have found it to be tremendously helpful in keeping my acne at bay. 

 

Balancing your hormones often times requires you to make some lifestyle changes in order to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Simply taking supplements will likely not help much if you are eating a poor diet, not getting enough sleep, and not exercising. Take care of yourself, and start by giving your body the nutrition it needs. 

 

Part 2: Birth Control Pills VS Natural Alternatives

couple-love-people-romantic-large

In part 1 of this post, I discuss my experience using birth control pills for several years, the health problems related to using hormonal birth control, and my decision to find a natural alternative.

After deciding to quit birth control pills, my body did not react so kindly to the transition. The biggest change I noticed was an outbreak in acne. I had tiny pimples covering my forehead and larger pimples around my cheekbones/temples that left some ice pick scarring and hyperpigmentation. It was devastating. I can recall many moments staring into the mirror with tears in my eyes. It was so incredibly frustrating!

I wish I could say there was a quick fix to my acne, but my hormones needed a chance to regain balance. With a healthier diet, natural skincare products, and time (it took nearly two years), my acne was finally at bay (except for the occasional pimple before my period).

I’m pleased to say that I never went back on hormonal birth control, and I started to look into natural methods of birth control. There are a few types of natural birth control I tried:

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 3.51.19 PM

Paragard

Most intrauterine devices (IUD) work by using synthetic hormones. However, there is an IUD made from copper called Paragard. The IUD is inserted into the uterus by your gynecologist, taking just a few minutes in the office. The copper acts as a spermicide, killing sperm and blocking sperm from traveling to the egg. The copper also thins the lining of the uterus, making it less likely for an egg to implant.

Pros:

  • It is effective immediately after insertion, and can last ten years before it needs to be replaced.
  • It can be removed at anytime by your doctor and there is no need to wait until hormones have been balanced before pregnancy can occur.
  • It is 99% effective.
  • Depending on insurance coverage and how long a woman plans to use Paragard, it can be cheaper than birth controls pills or condoms – and sometimes even free!

Cons:

  • The insertion of Paragard can be painful.
  • It can cause heavier periods.
  • It can cause more painful periods.
  • Too much copper in the body can deplete zinc, so a zinc deficiency may occur.
  • It does not protect against STD’s.

Many women respond to the Pargard wonderfully. Unfortunately, I was only able to use the Paragard for eight months.

The actual insertion of Paragard was only a brief, sharp pain. The most uncomfortable part was the intense cramping right after the insertion. It felt as though my body was trying to expel the IUD. My cramps were so intense that my legs were shaking. The only way I was able to get up and walk out of the office was by pressing a hot rice-pack on my lower back. The cramps continued to be intense for a couple of days before lessening.

My periods became heavier with much more cramping. I was even experiencing intense cramps when I didn’t have my period. The best way to describe my pain was mind-numbing. There were times when I couldn’t speak or think of anything other than the pain. It finally got to the point where I realized my uterus was not going to tolerate this IUD, and I had it removed. And I immediately felt better!

lady comp

Lady-Comp

The Lady-Comp is a fertility computer made my a company in Germany. It has become more and more well-known among women who are seeking hormone-free birth control options. It works by tracking your Basil Body Temperature (BBT). every day to detect the hormone progesterone to detect fertility. It also compares your cycle with hundreds of thousands of other women’s cycles.

Your basil body temperature is your temperature right after you wake up – before you stretch, drink water, use the bathroom, speak – etc. The Lady-Comp has a thermometer attached to it that you use to take your temperature orally each morning right when you wake up.

After ovulation occurs, progesterone rises in the body, causing a slight increase in body temperature. Progesterone stays high until the day you get your period – progesterone drops, and so does your body temperature.

The Lady-Comp tracks the rise and fall of temperature and detects when you are fertile/ovulating. It will give a red light on days that you are fertile (indicating no intercourse unless you have a backup plan for birth control or want to get pregnant), a yellow light (it is still learning your cycle), or a green light (you are in the clear!).

Pros:

  • It is 99.3% effective immediately.
  • It is completely natural.
  • It lasts at least seven years.
  • It is easy to use.
  • It is rechargeable.

Cons:

  • It takes time for the Lady-Comp to learn your unique cycle, so it will give a lot of red and yellow lights in the beginning.
  • It requires daily maintenance, although only a couple of minutes to take your temperature.
  • Some substances or situations could effect your temperature. For example, drinking alcohol the night before will increase body temperature. Having irregular sleep patterns could interfere as well (however, the Lady Comp maintains its effectiveness by giving red or yellow lights if it detects your temperature seems to be off and out of place). Therefore, as long as you abide by the red and yellow lights and avoid intercourse, it will still be 99.3% effective.
  • It does not protect against STD’s.

Watch this video on Lady-Comp:

My experience using the Lady-Comp has been really life-changing! It feels liberating to know I can manage my birth control by simply understanding my body. The Lady-Comp makes it really easy! There is also something very feminine about knowing when I’m fertile. Learning to track my hormone cycles has helped me detect other types of symptoms I experience such as breast tenderness, irritability, or even when I tend to be in a really good mood! I have been using the Lady-Comp for over a year, and don’t see any reason to discontinue.

phone-data

Kindara

Kindara is an app for your computer or phone or computer that helps you track your fertility to either get pregnant or avoid pregnancy. You enter in your data daily: BBT, cervical fluid, menstruation, and intercourse. This app can be used to make the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) of birth control a little easier to track.

When using FAM, you track your hormonal cycle through tracking BBT to detect levels of progesterone (what the Lady-Comp does), as well as the presence and consistency of cervical fluid to track estrogen levels.

Your cycle begins on the first day of your period. The first part of your cycle is referred to as the Follicular phase. This is when estrogen is dominant. Estrogen increases once menstruation begins and peaks at ovulation. Ovulation marks the end of the Follicular phase. The next phase is referred to as the Luteal phase of your cycle. This is when progesterone is dominant. Progesterone remains dominant until the day you get your period. Then your cycle starts over again.

Cervical fluid coincides with estrogen. Cervical fluid is the white discharge you get as ovulation approaches. It ranges in consistency from thick and sticky to runny and watery (kind of gross to talk about, I know). The thinner the discharge, the more fertile you are. Sperm travels through cervical fluid, helping to reach the egg.

As mentioned earlier, your BBT coincides with progesterone. When you see a spike in temperature, you will know that you are entering the Luteal phase of your cycle, and ovulation has occurred the previous day. When you see a dip in temperature, you can expect to get your period on that day, and you are now in the Follicular phase of your cycle once again.

When you take into consideration that sperm can survive for up to five days, and ovulation lasts for two days, you can identify that you are fertile for about seven days. Most women will also add on another couple of days after ovulation just in case you ovulate twice (twins anyone?). Therefore, most women are fertile for about nine days. You can avoid intercourse for those nine days or use a barrier form of birth control instead.

By tracking basal BBT, cervical fluid, and menstruation, you can identify which days you are able to get pregnant, thus avoiding intercourse on those days and maintaining effective birth control. Kindara takes all of the data you entered and puts it into a monthly calendar as well as line graph to provide an easy to follow visual.

Kindara is also now launching a thermometer called Wink that you can use to take your basal body temperature, and the thermometer will automatically sync with the app.

Pros:

  • Kindara offers a comprehensive, user-friendly method to the Fertility Awareness Method.
  • When used correctly, the FAM is 99.6% effective.
  • Can predict which days you are likely to be fertile as well as menstruate based on your previous cycles.
  • Affordable
  • Phone app makes tracking convenient and discreet.
  • Graph of your data is easy to understand.

Cons

  • Requires daily tracking.
  • Will need some basic understanding of FAM before using (there is a learning curve).
  • FAM does not protect against STD’s.

I have been using Kindara in conjunction with Lady-Comp for nearly a year, and absolutely love it! Kindara is what truly helped me learn my hormonal cycle and better understand why the Lady-Comp may have given me a red light versus a green light. My favorite aspect is the graph visual – it really helped me see what was going on with my body.

I have not tried Wink, but I am considering ordering it since it is much smaller, travel-friendly, discreet, cheaper, and overall seems more convenient compared to the Lady-Comp. However, it will not give lights indicating your fertility – you need to make those determinations based on your tracking.

Here is a video about Wink by Kindara:

 

To be completely honest, the Fertility Awareness Method is much easier than it seems. Once you learn the information on how fertility works on the body, and track your temperature and cervical fluid, it just becomes part of your daily routine – much like remembering to take a pill everyday – only FAM has given me a feeling of empowerment and understanding over my own body. I’m surprised I haven’t heard of more women using this method!

 

Have you tried any of these forms of natural birth control? I would love to hear your stories!

Part 1: Birth Control Pills Vs Natural Alternatives

4184492759_7f001c761f_o

Birth Control” by Rachel Mendez is licensed under CC BY 2.o

My Journey with Birth Control

My experience with birth control started when I was in my late adolescence. Like so many women I know, I struggled with painful, heavy periods, and was told by friends, family, and my doctor that taking the birth control pill would make my periods less painful, less intense. I took the pill consistently for about four years. And I have to say, my periods were regular and much more bearable.

However, I hit a point in my life where I started to feel like I wasn’t in control of my emotions, and my happiness was suffering. Was it because of a rocky relationship with my then-boyfriend? Hardships of entering adulthood? Did I have a mental health disorder? Or perhaps it was a side effect of my birth control pill…

Looking back now, I can’t say for sure what exactly was causing my emotional toil – it was most likely a combination of factors. Something needed to change. At this point in my life, I was starting to realize that what I put into my body made a big impact in my overall well-being. I was working hard to improve my diet, so I figured I would examine any substances I was taking: birth control pills.

I started to do some research online. I read about other women’s experiences with the pill. So many of them discussed feeling depressed along with many other health symptoms. I started talking to my close friends who were currently on the pill or had used the pill in the past, and several of them described similar symptoms.

Through my research, I learned how birth control pills effect the body:

1. Birth control pills prevent production of natural hormones, causing an imbalance in hormones.

Generally speaking, birth control pills work by preventing ovulation. They contain two types of synthetic hormones: estrogen and progestin. Synthetic estrogen works to prevent the pituitary gland from producing follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) to stop ovulation and thin the lining of the uterus. Progestin works to prevent the pituitary gland from producing LH.

Some forms of birth control include both synthetic estrogen and progestin, and others contain only progestin (the mini pill). Hormonal birth control does not only come in pill-form, but also in patches, vaginal rings, and some intrauterine devices.

The monthly bleeding women experience when taking the 7 days of placebo pills mimics a woman’s period, but is not in fact a natural occurrence of menstruation. The cycle of natural hormones causes the uterus to build up a lining of tissue to welcome a fertilized egg, and when the egg is not fertilized, the uterus sheds the lining – thus, your period. When birth control pills were first created, doctors felt more women would use the pills if they kept the ability to menstruate. When synthetic hormones are suddenly stopped while taking the placebos, the uterus sheds its lining. However, because the lining is already thinned due to the synthetic hormones, the perceived period is lighter than a natural period. Technically, there is no biological reason for a woman to get her “period” while on birth control pills.

A lot of women go on the pill to have clearer skin (I admit, my skin was very clear while on the pill). The reason for that has to do with the extra estrogen in birth control pills. Estrogen works to decrease the effects of hormones called androgens. Androgens are viewed as “male” hormones such as testosterone. Women also contain these hormones, but in lesser amounts than men. Androgens are linked to sebum production in the skin. The higher the level of androgens, the more sebum is produced. Having a lot of sebum can increase the chance of clogged pores.

Have you ever experienced a breakout right before your period? This is likely due to androgens being at their highest during this point in your natural cycle, and estrogen being at its lowest. Estrogen increases once menstruation occurs, which tends to be why breakouts clear up after you get you period.

Androgens are crucial in managing our moods, sense of well-being, and responding positively to exercise. Having too high or too low levels of androgens can cause problems with our sense of happiness.

Why might there be an excess of androgens in the your body? Research has shown there to be a link between spikes in insulin and increased level of androgens.  Eating high-sugar and starchy foods increase insulin, which in turn increases androgens.

Birth control pills tamper with a woman’s natural hormonal cycle. While birth control pills may help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms such as heavy, painful periods or hormonal acne, birth control masks the root of the problem. When women choose to come off the pill, many of them experience worse symptoms than prior to taking them as their body attempts to regain a sense of balance.

2. Birth control pills create yeast overgrowth 

Having higher levels of estrogen in the body due to synthetic hormones lead to yeast overgrowth (a bacteria called candida) in the digestive system. This happens when the beneficial bacteria is killed. When you consider other common contributors to yeast (refined sugars, high stress, antibiotics) the problem can develop quickly. An overgrowth of candida weakens the immune system, bringing a slew of other health problems.

3. Birth control pills cause a deficiency in nutrients

To metabolize birth control pills, the liver must use high levels of B-complex, vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc. These nutrients are depleted quickly. A deficiency in these nutrients can lead to a variety of symptoms such as migraines, fatigue, weight gain, fluid retention, moodiness, and depression.

 

When you consider the potential health risks of consuming birth control pills over a period of time, it’s no wonder that taking the pill has been shown to cause an increase in risk for breast and cervical cancer, blood clots, heart disease, decrease in bone density, infertility, and benign tumors.

I, myself, had a benign tumor in my right breast that required surgical removal. Was the tumor a result of having been on birth control for years? I cannot know for sure, but it very well could be.

 

At this point, I had heard enough about the hardships of others taking the pill, and discovered the potential brutal consequences – so I decided I would go off the pill…for good.


In Part 2, I will discuss my journey to finding a natural solution to birth control. Stay tuned!

Copyright © 2019. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.