Hormones and Health
By Trish Wilson
About once a month, I become a monster. I don’t mean the kind that hid under my bed or in my closet robbing me of sleep when I was a child. I mean the kind that makes Linda Blair in the Exorcist look like Little Bo Peep. The kind of monster that looks normal one minute but morphs into an unrecognizable creature changing color and form, revealing bloody eyes, bulging veins and seething teeth. I find myself quick to anger – no, that’s an understatement. I find myself exploding like an H-bomb in my kitchen, literally over spilt milk. My kids look at me like any child would with a monster from the underworld standing in front of them: horrified, shuddering and running in the other direction! My husband, well, he knows what’s coming and has learned not to open his mouth and to walk silently away until my moment of insanity passes.
I know this is not normal. I know that bedtime hot flashes are not normal. I know that my inability to function without a nap at 3pm is not normal. I know that my once flat tummy that has grown ledges and wrinkles and rolls – without any weight gain – is not normal. Yet, here I sit in the pretty blue paper gown at my endocrinologist’s office and she is telling me that it is not only normal – there is more to come! I am peri-, pre-, or menopausal at the age of 36? Shut the front door!
Refusing to accept anything of the sort, I began my search for answers. I cannot possibly accept this fate until the postmenopausal stage at which, according to my endo, could be another 10-15 years! Moreover, my family will not survive that long and hell, I don’t even like to be with myself anymore!
Six years ago, I began a painfully slow project of research and trial and error, multiple endocrinologists, integrative medical doctors, charlatans voodoo worshippers, quacks, etc. etc. What I discovered was mind-blowing and relieving all at once.
First, I am normal!!! Praise the Gods, there ARE other people out there like me (and Linda Blair)! What a relief! All of these symptoms are normal, when a hormone imbalance exists. Ok, so that’s something we can fix, right?
Not so fast, Ursula. I discovered that imbalances happen all day, every day, and that we have to be our own advocates for finding the right answers. For example, we often overlook our adrenal system where most of our hormones are produced. Did you know that cortisol levels affect our temperament? When cortisol is raised, we are quicker to react. I found out that my cortisol levels would spike during the day and relieving stress and taking supplements allowed this to level off.
I also found out that my estrogen levels were through the roof – that meant I couldn’t possibly be menopausal! But! My progesterone levels were very low and this lead to an imbalance that I needed to deal with since it caused sluggishness and my mind to go foggy.
Finally, I identified my thyroid disorder which appeared to be regulated was nowhere near normal when we took more in depth blood work. In fact, the thyroid disorder, the cortisol levels and progesterone deficiency often go hand-in-hand. When one is off, it is common that other hormones go out of balance.
In the end, I found that good integrative medicine physicians who deal specifically with women often take the time to listen to our symptoms and approach solutions slowly, treating the whole body. Coupled with a good nutrition plan that promotes eating healthy including whole foods consisting primarily of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and lean organic meat made a huge difference in my energy levels. At last, implementing the proper supplementation was key for me to reclaiming my life and my family.