Join us this week on the podcast with Megan Hejny from Nourish Family Wellness where we chat all about female sex hormones, balancing your hormones, cycle tracking and a bunch of period stuff. Seriously this was a life changing conversation and I wish I had this information when I was a young woman navigating my period for the first time. The better when can understand our fifth vital sign, our period and cycle the better we can connect to our overall health and wellness as women!
What is a Hormone?
- Hormones are molecules produced by the endocrine system that send chemical messages to various parts of the body that control and regulate the activity of organs.
- Hormones are essential for every activity of life, including the processes of digestion, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood control.
- In this podcast we specifically talk about sex hormones! Namely estrogen, progesterone and androgens (one of these being testosterone)
- As woman we have an incredible (and complex) cycle that starts with Menstration and then continues with ebbs and flows through the whole month. An average 28-day cycle is considered ideal but depending on each woman’s unique physiology a normal cycle can really be anywhere from 26-35 days or so.
- Living in harmony with these ever changing hormones can be done but unfortunately in today’s fast paced world (that is generally lived on a mens hormonal schedules) it is easy to lose touch with how our body is trying to communicate with us. When that happens these normal processes get disrupted or we silence them (ie birth control) because they can become a burden. PMS, painful periods, out of control emotions, acne, irregular cycles are just a few examples of what I call “period problems’. Most woman deal with this on a monthly basis so it’s easy to forget that this is not normal, but it is common.
- What I want for each person to get out of this podcast is to gain a little understanding of is the clock or cycle our body runs on which lasts a whole month, not just a day. This way you will understand your body better. And when you do that you can work WITH IT instead of AGAINST your hormones.
The Hormones we Focus on
3. Androgens (DHEA, Testosterone)
The Phases of your Cycle
Our cycles can be thought of in a couple of different ways. Either in two halves, the first being controlled by estrogen and the second by progesterone. It is a little easier though to think of it in four different phases because the body has completely different needs depending on what phase we are in and what hormone is dominant at that time.
Menstration (yes, hard to wrap your head around that bleeding is the beginning and not the END of a cycle)
- Day 1 of your cycle
- Progesterone bottoms out which is what initiates uterine lining to shed (aka your period)
- Lasts between 3-7 days
- Energy is lowest (as all hormone levels have dropped)
- Rest, limit exercise, nourish your body with food, set intentions for the month ahead
- Pituitary gland releases FSH, stimulates the follicles in the ovaries to mature (these contain your eggs)
- Estrogen and testosterone are on the rise which boosts mood and energy levels.
- Start to ramp up exercise, schedule more extroverted activities, schedule new projects, eat foods for fuel.
- An egg gets release from it’s follicle and stays in your ovary for up to 24 hours.
- Estrogen and testosterone are at peak levels (hello libido). You will feel confident and prioritize communication.
- Peak physical activity!
- First few days won’t feel that much different than ovulation but estrogen and testosterone will drop sharping and progesterone will start to rise and take over. Progesterone is calming and warming so you will start to find your want to relax more. Now you want to nest and take care of yourself, this is a more introverted time of the month.
- As the luteal phase continues many woman start to feel the symptoms of PMS (why you may ask, because hormonal imbalances are rampant and most commonly effect progesterone levels so though you should feel good during time you don’t and the symptoms of that are what so many of experience: PMS).
- Self care is most imprint here. Eating healthy foods that nourish your body for what is to come. Start to tone down exercise again and do more things like restorative yoga, try stress relieving treatments such as acupuncture.
You can see that each day of the month as these hormones change so does your priorities. I have woman who tell me their personality changes when they get their period. The good news: It’s supposed to!!
How to Get Started
- Track your periods (so many good apps like Kindara, Flo App, Period Tracker) Track the Number of days, PMS or symptoms of period, Length of your bleed and your Energy levels through your cycle.
- Take your Basil Body Temperature or BBT to see I you are ovulating regularly (and at what point, I use a blue tooth compatible thermometer so info goes right into my app)
- Get hormone testing done (when appropriate)
- I utilize the DUTCH test in my office, it is a urine test that allows us to see the level of hormones (both sex and androgens) and how the body metabolically breaks them down. We can use that information to find supplementation that supports the body naturally.
- Birth control and how it changes our hormones and brain communication to our ovaries
- Focus on nourishment. Eating enough and why metabolism matters for our cycle
- Limit Stress through lifestyle changes: Emotional Stress and Trauma, Physical Stress on the body through toxins