Posted on September 19, 2016
by Jill Clifton
Sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and the like) are what most of us think of when we hear the word hormone. But the truth is there are many different kinds of hormones in the body, and all are charged with keeping our mental and physical balance.
Ideally, hormones nourish and support body and mind. Because hormones are interconnected in so many varying ways, we each present a unique constellation of symptoms when hormone imbalance rears its head.
How do I know if I have a sex hormone imbalance?
Common symptoms of imbalance in the sex hormones for women include: excessive bleeding, short cycles, bloating, cramping, hot flashes/night sweats, exhaustion, irritability, and anxiety.
There are also less common symptoms such as erratic cycles, insomnia, and migraines. Each woman is bound to have her own set of symptoms, but despite the differences, there is a predictable set of experiences she is likely to have. And if she knows what to look for, a given set of symptoms can tell her where the imbalances rest within her intricate web of hormones.
What is going on to create these symptoms?
It might be more accurate to think of “hormone balance” as a harmony. There is not a constant level that is “right" at any given time. Our hormones, particularly in women, are known for naturally fluctuating over the course of the month. And when we feel good, that is the hormones working together synergistically. When they are not in harmony, they can cause chaos and discomfort in a variety of ways.
There are several things to consider about hormone harmony. It’s not just about getting the estrogen and progesterone into synchronicity with one another (although that’s part of it). It’s also about balancing the sex hormones that nourish and restore us, with the stress hormones that energize and focus us. Further, it’s about the whole body working as a unit -- the synergy of all our hormones.
Unaddressed sex hormone imbalances often start to affect other organs and systems that are working hard to uphold their own balancing act around blood sugar (insulin), metabolism (thyroid), and digestion. The interconnections between all of the hormones can make imbalance feel like body breakdown, a “train wreck”, or like everything about you including your sense of self is falling apart. But the good news is that you are not falling apart, and it can be corrected.
So what can I do to create hormone harmony?
There are obvious solutions: eat healthy whole foods, exercise, get enough sleep. But we all know those. The less obvious solutions? Know how your sex hormones are changing, how stress affects them, and be honest with yourself about what you need to keep balance in your body and life.
When we are young, women we have abundant yin energy and abundant sex hormones. We are resilient to the stress hormones because we have a lot of nourishing energy. As we age, and our sex hormones decline, we become less resilient to the stress hormones, and therefore to the effects of stress. This often becomes particularly noticeable in our late 30’s and early 40’s.
This shift is the body telling us that, as we age, our resilience needs to come from our wisdom rather than our sex hormones. We need to listen to our bodies, notice our symptoms, and be able to categorize them in such a way that we can clearly see our path to greater balance.
Interested in learning more about how to map and respond to sex hormone imbalance in your body? Join Jill Clifton for Hormones + Stress: Moving From Chaos to Comfort this Sunday September 25 from 3:00 - 6:00 pm at Luma.