But What About The Positive Side Effects Of Birth Control
An overwhelming amount of women are using birth control for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, most commonly to avoid heavy or painful periods or skin issues/acne.
Birth control can provide temporary relief for these symptoms due to the fact they are lowering your sex hormones and preventing ovulation .
The problem with this method is it doesnt address the root cause of your issues or symptoms, but rather provides a band-aid approach that exacerbates the problem in the long run .
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Hormonal Imbalance
Because your body makes over 50 different hormones all of which contribute to important bodily functions you could experience several different symptoms depending on which hormonal imbalance you have.
Its important to know that many of the following symptoms could be caused by other conditions, not just from a hormonal imbalance. If you ever notice a change in your day-to-day health and are experiencing new, persistent symptoms, its important to talk to your healthcare provider no matter what you think the cause might be.
Hormone imbalance symptoms that affect your metabolism
Common hormonal imbalances include those that affect your metabolism. Your metabolism consists of the chemical reactions in your body’s cells that change the food you eat into energy. Many different hormones and processes are involved in metabolism.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalances that affect your metabolism include:
- Slow heartbeat or rapid heartbeat .
- Thin, warm and moist skin.
- Irregular body fat distribution.
To Decoding Your Hormones: How Long Should Your Period Be
Since we only have our own period to compare to, it can be hard to know whether what we experience is normal. Lets run through some normal cycle parameters so that you can determine where you fall:
The length of your periodrefers to the number of days from the first day of your bleed to the last day before your next bleed. A healthy range for your cycle length is anywhere between 21 and 35 days, with the average being around 29 days.
Many of my clients tell me their period is always late because it comes on day 30 . This is a huge misconception: that if your period isnt 28 days, you arent normal. If your period consistently arrives around the same day of your cycle, and it falls within the healthy range of 21 to 35 days, this is your normal, healthy cycle length.
Whether or not you fit this textbook 28 day cycle , the most important factor to consider is whether your normal has changed or not.
Our menstrual cycles are very responsive to stress in our lives and demonstrate this most clearly in the length of our cycles. Stress is not always psychological , but may be physical .
When we are more stressed, our body does not deem our environment to be a safe place to bring a baby in to the world, and can shut down ovulation all together, or delay it until it deems we are safe. The end result of this change in ovulation is a missing period altogether, or longer cycles than your normal. Think this might explain your menstrual cycle problems?
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Hormone Balancing Tip #: Get Off The Sugar Roller Coaster
Eating large amounts of processed sugar and refined carbohydrates can lead to insulin resistance. This is where your body gets tired of receiving the signal that your blood sugar is high, and becomes less responsive to it. Excess insulin production causes inflammation in the body and increased production of testosterone from the ovaries. This can lead to irregular cycles, acne and hair growth on the face.
Hormone Balancing Tip #: Consider Supplementing
The above suggestions will go a long way to improving your body’s production and elimination of hormones. Consider these initial steps as the ‘ground work’ for hormone balance. If you have implemented all of these tips, your next step is to consider adding 1 or 2 high quality supplements in to your regime
Magnesium: wonderful in helping the body cope with chronic, ongoing stress as magnesium is used in the stress response. Magnesium bisglycinate form is best for most people as it causes the least disturbance to digestive symptoms. 300mg per day is an effective dose for most people.
Zinc: Great for acne and digestive issues. 30mg per day in citrate or picolinate form after food .
Iron: great for heavy periods, low iron stores and fatigue. Please have your iron levels checked through a simple blood test which can be requested through your health care provider. Bisglycinate form is best as it causes the least digestive issues. 24mg every second day away from caffeine is a good dose for most people.
Here at Nourished, we have created a high quality all round vitamin to support your hormonal health. Our Period Repair + Regulate vitamin is designed to support your period throughout your cycle.
All of our vitamins are 100% natural and FDA approved. We offer free global shipping on any order size, so give it a try.
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+ Birth Control Withdrawal Detox Protocol
While I firmly believe in the philosophy of focusing on what you can add into your diet and lifestyle to help yourself feel better it should be noted eliminating the following can really help offset symptoms and rebalance your hormones.
If possible I recommend trying to avoid
- + Estrogen Mimickers or Xenoestrogens Most commonly found in BPA , household cleaners, contaminated drinking water, medications and soy
- + Alcohol It impairs the livers ability to process estrogen effectively
- + Antibiotics These disrupt your gut flora and can cause estrogen to be recirculated in the body
As well as adding in
- + Cruciferous Vegetables See nutrition section above
- + Your Fave Sweat Method When we sweat we excrete toxins naturally and safely through our skin. Add in exercise or try out an infrared sauna
So What Can You Do Now
Make an appointment with a doctor who can help to determine what medications or supplements to balance hormones are appropriate for your type of hormone imbalance.
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How Hormones Work In The Brain And Body
In order to feel happy and healthy, you need to have balanced hormones. Here is some important information to note about the differences between natural and synthetic hormones.
Natural hormones bind to specific receptors and keep your body in balance:
- Estrogen binds to the estrogen receptor.
- Progesterone binds to the progesterone receptor.
- Testosterone binds to the testosterone receptor .
- There is no cross-reactivity.
Synthetic progesterone acts differently on the body:
- Progestins do not limit binding with just the progesterone receptor, but many other receptors as well.
- When a synthetic hormone binds to the wrong receptor, that receptor may convey inaccurate signals, which throws the body off balance.
Because synthetic hormones may bind to the wrong receptors, birth control pills may cause hormone imbalances and detrimental side effects. Not all women experience these problems, but for those that do side effects can be quite miserable.
What Are The Types Of Birth Control Pills
There are two different types of birth control pills. Both types contain hormones that prevent pregnancy.
- Combination pills contain estrogen and progestin.
- Progestin-only pills are also called the minipill. Theyre better for some women, such as those who are breastfeeding or have a history of blood clots and strokes and shouldnt take estrogen.
The pill comes in different dosing packets from 21-day pill packs to 90-day pill packs, to even 365 days of active pills. Traditionally, depending on the brand and dose, you take at least three weeks of active pills followed by two to seven days of hormone-free pills. This is called cyclical dosing. Most women have a menstrual period during the inactive pills. Some brands do not provide any inactive pills at all in the pack . With the 21-day packs a woman does not take any pills for a week. During this time, youll have your period, similar to what happens when taking the inactive, hormone-free pills.
Some formulations offer continuous dosing, which means you do not have any inactive pills, and a woman takes an active pill daily. Alternatively, extended cycle dosing is when inactive pills or breaks in the active pill regimen only occur three to four times per year. Skipping the inactive pills prevents menstruation. Your healthcare provider can discuss the best option for you.
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What Happens To Your Body On Birth Control
Hormonal birth control works by shutting down your natural hormone fluctuations. The natural increase and decrease of the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, is replaced with a specific dose of synthetic hormones that prevent ovulation. The suppression of ovulation is what makes it successful in the prevention of pregnancy.
Hormonal birth control effectively shuts down your reproductive system. The synthetic hormones do a great job mimicking your bodys real hormones. Although, eventually your body thinks it has enough of those hormones in circulation and stops producing its own. Your body also no longer goes through the luteal or follicular phases of a menstrual cycle.
An Acne Story By Emily
I havent let someone take my picture in over 3 years, 26-year-old Emily confessed at her first visit. She came to see me with one burning question Whats the best birth control for acne, can birth control pills help acne or am I doomed to have hide from every camera I see?
Emily had tried several pills with varying degree of success. And while some had reduced the number of breakouts, none of them gave her the clear skin her doctor had promised.
Like many women, Emily was prescribed the pill to treat a symptomher acne. Her acne was a symptom of something deeper, I explained.
Her doctor had told her that the pill would help her balance the hormones he believed was causing her to break out.
But the pill doesnt balance hormonesit masks them.
So here Emily was, on the pill without any relief from her acne and instead experiencing mild depression and an absent sex drive.
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Hormone Balance And Tummy Trouble
Cells lining the gastrointestinal tract have receptors for both estrogen and progesterone. Levels of these hormones change throughout the course of a womans monthly menstrual cycle. When they do, they impact the function of the gastrointestinal system. Women often experience abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, and nausea before or during their periods. These symptoms can also occur with many other conditions. If a woman experiences them along with mood changes and fatigue before or during her period, it may be more likely that the GI disturbances are occurring due to monthly hormonal fluctuations.
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Breast Changes Might Be An Estrogen Imbalance
Estrogen that is too high or too low may lead to changes in breast tissues. High estrogen may cause lumpy or dense breast tissue, even cysts. Estrogen levels that are too low may cause decreased breast tissue density. In one study, postmenopausal women who took estrogen plus progesterone hormone replacement therapy experienced an increase in breast density compared to women who took a placebo. Xenoestrogens are compounds that mimic estrogen function in the body. They are naturally occurring in some plants and fungi but they are also found in some drugs, industrial by-products, and pesticides. Non-naturally occurring xenoestrogens may produce a number of harmful effects in the body, including effects on breast density and the risk of breast cancer. They may also disrupt the endocrine system. If you notice any breast changes or are concerned about your estrogen levels, see your doctor for an evaluation.
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The Naturopaths Approach To Balancing Female Hormones
The endocrine system consists of glands that produce hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that send instructions to the various organ systems in order to regulate vital bodily functions. A high stress lifestyle combined with poor eating habits can wreak havoc on a womens delicately balanced hormonal function. Even healthy women with a good diet can end up with hormones unbalanced.
Symptoms of hormonal imbalance may include PMS, uterine fibroids, osteoporosis, reduced sex drive, allergies,weight gain, changes in the skin, fatigue, water retention, hair loss, facial hair growth and sometimes anxiety and depression.
A naturopath takes time to review a patients medical history in detail and tailor a herbal mix and provide dietary and lifestyle advice specific to the patient. Below are some suggested tips and a selection of herbs for treating hormonal imbalances.
You Had Easy Breezy Periods And Little To No Hormonal Concerns Pre
The envy of many, you may experience some breakouts or mild anxiety as your body weans off its daily dose of synthetic oestrogen, but youll likely be fine to stop taking the pill and see how you go.
Supporting your body to start ovulating and producing its own natural progesterone again will help to soothe any low moods or anxiety, and promote regular, symptom-free cycles.
To help your body ovulate ASAP, make sure to:
- Get plenty of sleep and manage your stress levels. Easier said than done, we know. Try cutting back on additional stressors such as over exercising, caffeine and alcohol.
- Make sure to eat plenty of nutrient-dense wholefoods, and include a good balance of healthy fats, quality proteins and the right kind of carbs in your diet.
- Keep your nutrient stores tip-top, particularly zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. These key nutrients nourish the ovaries and support ovulation – find these all in our beloved Take Me With The Pill
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Incorporate Stress Reduction Techniques
No surprise here. Stress causes your body to go into fight or flight modeits just the way were wired. And when were stressed, cortisol rises. In turn, elevated cortisol affects your hormones, including ovulation. Chronic stress can lead to late periods. From stress-relieving yoga poses to stress-reducing teas, there are a variety of ways to bring more om into your life. Making time to de-stress does wonders for your mind, body, and hormones.
Image by Teal Thomsen
What Causes Hormonal Acne
As Dr. Jennifer MacGregor of Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York explained, its typically related to a womans menstrual cycle and the fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone that come along with it. In an article published by Self last year, Miami-based dermatologist S. Manjula Jegasothy said that these hormonal fluctuations are believed to cause increased oil production in pores, which could result in breakouts. Additionally, Jegasothy said the ratio of progesterone to estrogen can also have an effect on a womans testosterone levels, which can contribute to acne.
Hormonal acne occurs or gets worse in cyclic flares along with monthly menstrual cycles, MacGregor said. Its typically worst during the week right before your period starts, when progesterone is at its peak.
Women may experience hormonal breakouts during menopause as well, as female hormone levels drop during this time, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
If youre trying to figure out whether youre dealing with this type of acne, some signs to look out for, MacGregor said, are cyclic flares each month, distribution along the lower face, jawline and/or around the mouth and deeper, painful pimples .
If you have oily skin, T-zone acne, blackheads and/or whiteheads, then probably not hormonal acne, she said.
Another factor that may contribute to hormonal breakouts is stress.
Stress makes all inflammatory skin conditions worse! MacGregor said. This includes all types of acne.
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S To Balance Hormones Naturally
Hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, adrenaline and insulin are extremely important chemical messengers that affect many aspects of your overall health.
Conventional treatments for hormonal imbalances typically include synthetic hormone replacement therapies, birth control pills, insulin injections, thyroid medications and more. Unfortunately, for the majority of people suffering from hormonal disorders, relying on these types of synthetic treatments often does three things:
Is it possible to balance hormones naturally? The good news is: yes, in many cases it is. Below youll learn about some root causes of hormonal problems, as well as about treatment options to help you balance your hormones naturally.