Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hormones- A Balancing Act

Fair warning, another, more than you ever needed to know about Erica post... but the more I have learned about me and how my body works the more I want to share, so you can understand your body.  I hope you have an "ahha" moment or two...

Hormones- female ones- have been the bane of my existence for 25+ years... I came to maturity early and I have endured the gauntlet of PMS symptoms: anxiety, anger, rage, bloating, weight gain (5 pounds most months), headaches, cravings.  The symptoms start a couple days after ovulation and are my buddies until 12  hours before my period starts.  Really, I know my period will start soon when I no longer feel like I need to throw hatches at walls, or for the safety and sanity of my family, lock myself up in a padded room.

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I've seen multiple doctors over the years and the treatments vary with each professional.  Blood work was always within the range of normal, but my symptoms were so off that they were willing to try something, anything.  They started with anti-depressants; then we added contraceptives, then added more progesterone supplementation.  Still I experienced so much angst and so much turmoil each month.  I even had a doctor suggest that we remove the whole female reproductive unit and start over with hormone replacement therapy.

With the threat of major surgery looming in my mind, I started paying a lot of attention to my body... and reading, and researching and learning more.  The more I learned the more I saw that I was just out of balance.  Hormones are meant to balance one another out.  If one is too high you won't feel so good, and your body will  be out of sorts.  If the proportion of estrogen to progesterone is too high your body will experience anxiety, tenderness of the breasts, bloating, and weight gain (um me!).  If the proportion of estrogen to progesterone is too low you may experience hot flashes, forgetfulness, depression or fatigue.

Then I watched my body some more... and read some more.  Things started falling into place.  Those days where I just am not okay with a child giving me a hug, or sleeping on my side because my ladies are UNTOUCHABLE.  Estrogen out of proportion with progesterone.  That crazy, anxious, can't sit still feeling I get after some hanky-panky, while I watch my hunney sleep contentedly.  ESTROGEN (ovaries produce more estrogen in response to rhythmic contraction of the uterus- read orgasm or labor and delivery-- add onto that the huge drop in progesterone production lost by loosing the placenta and no wonder I was a huge mess after the birth of each child!)  That big sigh and I almost feel normal feeling, 12 hours before Aunt Flow comes to visit?  The required drop in estrogen for menses to begin.

So what is the answer?  I'm not sure what your answer will be but I found one that works for me and my high estrogen. 

Indole-3-carbinol or I3C for short.  I3C is a compound found in leafy greens, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and broccoli.  What does it do?  I3C helps with the metabolization of estrogen.  Here is the super simplified, almost sciencey version of how it works.

Your liver helps the reproductive system by breaking down excess hormones and flushing them out of the system.  I3C hooks up with estrogen in the body and tells  the liver to metabolize it.  Estrogen levels drop and get back to a better ratio with progesterone.

I help my body by taking I3C as a supplement and by increasing my intake of I3C rich foods during the luteal phase of my cycle (last two weeks).  If I feel that super-charged anxiety after a good time with my man, I take a bit then too.  There are lots of supplement brands that make I3C pills, so go with a brand you trust.

Really I have felt so much more peace and so much less rage since I started supplementing with I3C.. maybe that is just understanding where my body is and what I can do to support and nourish it.  Now go take care of yourself!

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