Balancing Female Hormones Naturally
Female hormones can be a beautiful flow or a nightmare. Symptoms can range from pesky irregularity and annoying premenstrual syndrome (PMS) to full-blown pain of endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Conventional medicine commonly treats these problems with either birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, with the assumption that all female hormone problems are due to hormone deficiency, therefore necessitating a hormone pill. The problem with this model is that it may not involve adequate testing.
In menstruating females, estrogen normally peaks during the first half of the cycle and tapers off during the second half, while progesterone does the opposite. This is important because estrogen and progesterone have opposite effects on female reproductive organs and balance each other out. This is all coordinated by the master controllers in the brain—the hypothalamus and pituitary gland—which secret their own hormones in a complex dance over a normal 28-day cycle.
The conventional medical test for female hormones is a one-sample blood draw, which is only a snapshot of the hormone level on that particular day. This one-sample test cannot tell what is going on with the cycle on the other 27 days!
For menstruating females, the best way to determine sex hormone function is with a saliva hormone test. This test is done at home by collecting a saliva sample, which is noninvasive, every three days over the course of 28 days, or longer if one has a prolonged cycle. The result is graphed as 14 data points of each of the ovarian and pituitary hormones to see the full cycle picture.
However, for most females with hormone problems, the problem does not lie in the ovaries. The root cause for female hormone issues typically starts as a blood sugar problem caused by insulin resistance, adrenal dysfunction, inflammation or toxicity from endocrine-disrupting chemicals. By addressing these root causes, most women feel better and more balanced without needing expensive testing or hormone replacement.
The menopausal symptoms of hot flashes and night sweats are so common that they are seen as a normal part of growing old. However, healthy transition to menopause should simply be cessation of menstruation without symptoms. A common myth is that once a woman is in menopause, she no longer makes or needs estrogen or progesterone.
The fact is a woman still makes these hormones, just not by the ovaries. The adrenal glands are the backup system that makes the bulk of progesterone when a woman is in menopause. The symptoms of hot flash and night sweats are actually caused by the adrenal glands trying to kick in, perhaps unsuccessfully, and creating hormone surges, leading to symptoms.
The focus for female hormone balance should not be a knee-jerk response to take hormone replacement, but rather identifying and addressing the root cause, which usually involves balancing blood sugar, supporting the adrenals, decreasing inflammation, and enhancing detoxification through the liver and gallbladder. Only after these foundations are covered should one consider the need for hormone medications.
Ask better questions and you will get better answers. Don’t ask if you need hormone replacement, ask why you are not making hormones in the first place. By addressing the root cause, you will not only fix the hormone problem but create a healthier you in the process.
Follow Peter Kan, DC, DACNB, FAAIM, CFMP, the host of the online Ask Dr Kan Show, on Facebook at Hope Integrative Wellness Center and YouTube at Dr. Peter Kan, for natural hormone balancing. For more information or to schedule a Skype consultation, call 480-988-6269.