My Crazy Hormones: Part 2

Another round of testing my hormone levels reveals more imbalances. See what I'm doing about it!

My Hormones Make Me Crazy.

Last year I wrote a post about how my hormones were making me crazy. I never really revisited that after that post so I wanted to write one. When I had my hormones tested last year I had a Mirena IUD and wasn’t having periods at all (TMI? Sorry…) I did use the prescribed creams for awhile but I still felt off. One of the problems is that Progesterone rises and falls as a woman progresses through her cycle, and at that point I wasn’t having one. I had plans to have my IUD removed and decided at that point to stop using the creams just to see what my body would do on its own. That was back in May of last year. My cycle came back pretty quickly and was pretty regular for the first few months, even with my surgery and everything. Once I got through my recovery and started to figure out what normal felt like again I was still feeling off. Foggy brain, sluggish, tired despite getting 8 hours of sleep on average, and most of all a more noticeable difficultly losing weight. I had even gained close to 10lbs since my Surgery and despite my best efforts with food and exercise I haven’t been able to lose it. I also started having some weird period issues… going from 28 days most cycles to 52 days at my longest cycle. Not too mention the PMS, cramps, mood swings were horrible. This article about the symptoms of low progesterone pretty much sums up my life lately.

Symptoms of Low Progesterone

At the recommendation of my nutrition coach (after following detailed nutrition plans and seeing little to no body composition changes) I made an appointment with RevitaLive Wellness Center. I actually made the appointment last year, November I think? They were booked for 3+ Months! I decided to go to a specialist who works with hormone issues regularly instead of my general practitioner, which is what I did last time I got my levels checked. I went in January and got a bunch of tests done and went back last week to finally get the results. I absolutely loved that they did such a wide range of tests, including genetic testing for heart issues which my family has a history of. They tested not just my hormone levels, but also some vitamin and mineral levels, tested for markers of celiac, cholesterol, and tons of other things. I literally have a stack of around 20 pages of test results and explanations. A few things came back flagged. I’ll touch on each one a little bit.

Low Vitamin D and Omega 3 Levels – My Omega 3 Index came back at a 4.8% when the optimal levels are anything above 8%. This wasn’t terribly surprising as I don’t really eat fish and have been sporadic at best with my Fish Oil Supplements. My Vitamin D level came back at a 32, she said the optimal level is above 50.

Low Progesterone/High Estrogen/Low Testosterone- This would be classified as Estrogen Dominance. My estrogen wasn’t extremely over range, it was at 175 where the highest they like to see is 200. So on the higher end of normal. My progesterone, however, was super low. I had a 0.56 and she said they like to see a level between 5-10. My testosterone came back at 28 and she said they like to see it between 30-50.

Hashimoto’s/Hypothyroid- It’s no surprise that my markers came back positive for the autoimmune condition Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I was diagnosed back in 2009. I’ve been on Synthroid/Levothyroxine for almost 6 years now. My TSH levels have fluctuated in that time from a 9.0 down to 0.5 and averages somewhere around a 2 most testing periods. They tested me out at 2.49. The acceptable levels are anywhere from .5-4.0 depending on the lab. I have always said I feel better when I’m closer to a 1.0. She said they like to keep patients under a 2.0. She also said because of my hashimoto’s that my body has a harder time converting the Synthyroid to Free T3. She suggested upping my dose and switching me over to Nature’s Throid, which is supposedly more easily converted to what the body needs despite my autoimmune condition.

So, what now?

The first thing we changed was my thyroid medication and dosage. I’m now taking a higher dose of Nature Throid instead of Levothyroxine. I also got a small injection of testosterone to bring those levels to the optimal range. They recommend the injection monthly, but will test my levels again so see where they are. Finally, I’m going to be taking a progesterone pill to bring those levels up to a normal range. I’ll be cycling those pills for 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. I haven’t started them yet, as I have to wait for a certain time during my cycle to do so.

This is all just me sharing my experience with you. I’m not a doctor or medical professional. I know some people have very purist ideas about hormones and doing it all naturally and while I’ve tried to do that as best I can on my own I’m looking forward to seeing how this process works for me. I’m trying to have an open mind and pay attention to my body as best as I can to see what works for me. I’ve been on the new Thyroid medicine for about a week now and I’m noticing small changes, like not feeling as foggy mentally and not feeling like I need to go back to sleep as soon as I wake up. I’ll check in after my first round of progesterone and let you know if I felt like it worked or not.

Have you ever had your hormones tested?

 

 

How to Eliminate Excess Hormones from Your Daily Life

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Ever since I discovered that I have Estrogen Dominance (aka Hormone Imbalance) I have been researching how to eliminate excess hormones from your daily life. When I first started researching it I was floored at how many chemically derived hormones and chemicals were in everything that we use! It was SO overwhelming.

One of the reasons it is thought that some people have higher estrogen levels than progesterone/testosterone levels is that our lives are flooded with xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are chemicals that have estrogen like effects. Basically the body processes these chemical xenoestrogens as if they are actual estrogens. This increases our estrogen levels and causes them to be out of balance with the other hormones. These xenoestrogens aren’t biodegradable so they end up being stored in our fat cells, which has been linked to increase occurrence of cancers, obesity and other health issues.

Like I said, I was completely overwhelmed when I started realizing that these chemicals are everywhere. We decided to take it one small step at a time. Here are a few things we have done to help reduce the amount of exposure to excess hormones.

1. Buy Organic/Grass-Fed/Hormone Free Meat & Dairy- This was a big one for us since we consume a large amount of protein via meat and dairy. Many mainstream meat products are fed hormones to speed up the growth process. The FDA banned the use of hormones in poultry so it isn’t a problem with turkey and chicken, however, they still use antibiotics. We have been trying different local places to get the best deal on grass fed beef, organic chicken & turkey. As far as Dairy goes, I typically stay away from most dairy anyway. I use almond milk and coconut creamer, but the hubs uses milk in his protein shakes.We have been using the Oberweis Delivery Service to get growth hormone and antibiotic free milk, creamer, and eggs. The only dairy I use regularly is Greek Yogurt, and it is in small quantities and I typically get the Stonyfield Organic Brand.

2. Replace your Teflon Cookware – I used to only use non-stick cookware. It was way easier to clean up! My mom actually bought me a whole set of stainless steel pots and pans and I barely used them because I preferred the non-stick teflon. Turns out teflon is pretty bad for you. I have started using my stainless cookware more (though I still haven’t tossed my teflon pans completely… letting go is hard to do). When heated the chemicals start to break down and release toxic chemicals into the air and your food! Not only will this have an effect on your hormones, but your thyroid function as well. I struggle with Both!
Read this article on Teflon

3. Use Natural Cleaning and Personal Care Products- We often spend so much time and energy focusing on what we put IN our bodies and forget about what we put ON our bodies. Cleaning products like laundry detergent, dish soap, and multi surface cleaners are filled with toxic chemicals that often come in contact with our skin or with our clothes which then come in contact with our skin. Personal care products like shampoo, lotion, and make up also contain high amounts of hormones and toxins and can alter your hormonal balance as well. I’ve recently started using The Honest Company for many of these products. They carry cleaning products as well as personal care and even baby products. They have an awesome bundle package that gives you significant discounts as well!

4. Eliminate as much plastics as possible- I’ll admit this is the hardest for me. I live out of tupperware. I’ve been trying to scooch my way over to the glass food storage world. I know it is way better for you, especially if you reheat food in your plastic tupperware! I’ve also been searching for a good durable glass water bottle to replace my plastic ones. The cost on this is a bit prohibitive. I know it’d be a good investment but I just can’t seem to make myself trash all the plastic tupperware that I have (and use regularly).

These are just a few areas we have been working on. We still aren’t perfect, but now I’m more aware of what goes in and on my body and the effects it can have! I never want to be one of those super crazy nazi moms about things like this. I never considered myself a “granola mom” but I think it is important to at least somewhat understand the possible health implications of the types of products you use. I’ve experienced first hand the way that hormone imbalance can impact your life, so making small changes for the better is totally worth it. I am still experimenting with hormone cream supplements but I hope to be able to get things balanced out in a more natural way. I’ll update more on that soon!

How can you eliminate excess hormones from your daily life?
Is it worth it to you?

Estrogen Dominance (aka – My Hormones Make Me Crazy)

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If you have followed my health journey for any period of time you know that I have been working incredibly hard and yet still struggle with seeing the results I think I should. It’s not that I don’t put in the work, because I do. I press my limits at the box, I follow a clean eating plan from a nutrition coach with the exception of a few meals out with family per month. Still, despite all my work I was seeing little to no progress. I mean, yea, I was making better choices for my health but as hard as I have worked I should be further along… I know everyone says that! But it’s true!

I chalked most of that up to the fact that my thyroid is whack thanks to my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. 98% of the time I accepted that my reality would be that I would have to work twice as hard for half the results. The other 2% of the time I threw myself a big pity party that included fried pickles, burgers, loaded fries, and ice cream. Because if I wasn’t going to lose weight I was going to eat whatever the heck I wanted anyway. This lasts for about a day before I start feeling sick. Then I get back to business and keep working. The thing that always bothered me is that since starting my medication my labs have always come back as normal. That means everything should work like it is supposed to, right? Wrong…

I started to notice more signs that something wasn’t right in the last few months. I was having crazy headaches, I was sleeping on average 8 hours most nights but still feeling extremely fatigued, generally felt “off” and “foggy brained”, and the biggest red flag was my ability to go from happy go lucky to extremely irritable in 0.6 seconds… particularly when dealing with my daughter. That was a huge eye opener. If you know my daughter you know that she is seriously the best kid ever. I’m not just saying that because she is my daughter, but she is seriously the sweetest, kindest, most well behaved child I know. So when I lost my patience with her on a regular basis that was a huge red flag. Not to mention my lack of results with hard work on the diet and exercise front. I really started to feel like I was legit going crazy. I had my thyroid checked again just to see if my levels fluctuated… but nope. Still normal. My nutrition coach, Jamie from Precision Fitness STL, suggested the theory of Estrogen Dominance. When I read the symptoms I felt like I was reading through a description of my life. Check these out…

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Irregular or otherwise abnormal menstrual periods
  • Bloating (water retention)
  • Breast swelling and tenderness
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Headaches (especially premenstrually)
  • Mood swings (most often irritability and depression)
  • Weight and/or fat gain (particularly around the abdomen and hips)
  • Cold hands and feet (a symptom of thyroid dysfunction)
  • Hair loss
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Sluggish metabolism
  • Foggy thinking, memory loss
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping/insomnia
  • PMS

Uhm, HELLO! McFly! This is seriously my life. Could THIS be reason why my thyroid is jacked up to begin with?!

I brought it up to my general practitioner who deals with my thyroid issues and she hadn’t ever really dealt with it, but was interested in doing so. We got my blood work done and I was on pins and needles waiting for the response. So, it turns out that my estrogen levels are normal… HOWEVER… My progesterone levels came back in the range of someone who was Post Menopausal. Meaning there was practically no progesterone in my system.

My first reaction? I’M NOT CRAZY! YAY!

Then I was a bit confused, My estrogen levels were “normal” after all… so it wasn’t that I had too much estrogen… It was that it wasn’t balanced with the other hormones in my body. One of the places I was reading about it made it make the most sense to me “the theory of estrogen dominance is very real, but its significance lies in the overall ratio of estrogen to progesterone

So, it isn’t that I have an excess amount of estrogen, it is that I am not producing enough progesterone to balance it out. So, I am going to start using a natural progesterone cream to help supplement. This is a tricky issue as too much can cause my body to swing the other way. Another complication to the issue (and a TMI alert) is that I have the Mirena IUD and don’t have regular periods. I can’t tell you the last time I had a period. I do plan on having it removed in the next few months and I hope that helps things to balance out.

I know this is long winded, but I wanted to share this with you in case any of you were struggling with the same things.

Have you ever felt crazy? Were you really crazy?