Your Hormones, Your Health


Feeling bloated, irritable, or just not your best? A hormone imbalance could be to blame. Hormones are chemical “messengers” that impact the way your cells and organs function. It’s normal for your levels to shift at different times of your life, such as before and during your period or a pregnancy, or during menopause. But some medications and health issues can cause them to go up or down, too.

Irregular Periods


Most women’s periods come every 21 to 35 days. If yours doesn’t arrive around the same time every month, or you skip some months, it might mean that you have too much or too little of certain hormones (estrogen and progesterone). If you’re in your 40s or early 50s — the reason can be perimenopause — the time before menopause. But irregular periods can be a symptom of health problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Talk to your doctor.
Sleep Problems



If you aren’t getting enough shut-eye, or if the sleep you get isn’t good, your hormones could be at play. Progesterone, a hormone released by your ovaries, helps you catch Zzz’s. If your levels are lower than usual, that can make it hard to fall and stay asleep. Low estrogen can trigger hot flashes and night sweats, both of which can make it tough to get the rest you need.

Chronic Acne


A breakout before or during your period is normal. But acne that won’t clear up can be a symptom of hormone problems. An excess of androgens (“male” hormones that both men and women have) can cause your oil glands to overwork. Androgens also affect the skin cells in and around your hair follicles. Both of those things can clog your pores and cause acne.

Memory Fog


Experts aren’t sure exactly how hormones impact your brain. What they do know is that changes in estrogen and progesterone can make your head feel “foggy” and make it harder for you to remember things. Some experts think estrogen might impact brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Attention and memory problems are especially common during perimenopause and menopause. But they can also be a symptom of other hormone-related conditions, like thyroid disease. Let your doctor know if you’re having trouble thinking clearly.

Belly Problems


Your gut is lined with tiny cells called receptors that respond to estrogen and progesterone. When these hormones are higher or lower than usual, you might notice changes in how you’re digesting food. That’s why diarrhea, stomach pain, bloating, and nausea can crop up or get worse before and during your period. If you’re having digestive woes as well as issues like acne and fatigue, your hormone levels might be off.

Ongoing Fatigue



Are you tired all the time? Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a hormone imbalance. Excess progesterone can make you sleepy. And if your thyroid — the butterfly-shaped gland in your neck — makes too little thyroid hormone, it can sap your energy. A simple blood test called a thyroid panel can tell you if your levels are too low. If they are, you can get treated for that.
chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. But other hormones, that travel the same paths as neurotransmitters, also play a part in how you feel.

Mood Swings and Depression


Researchers think drops in hormones or fast changes in their levels can cause moodiness and the blues. Estrogen affects key brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. But other hormones, that travel the same paths as neurotransmitters, also play a part in how you feel.

Appetite and Weight Gain



When you’re feeling blue or irritated, as you can be when your estrogen levels dip, you may want to eat more. That might be why drops in the hormone are linked to weight gain. The estrogen dip can also impact your body’s levels of leptin, a hunger-revving hormone.

Headaches


Lots of things can trigger these. But for some women, drops in estrogen bring them on. That’s why it’s common for headaches to strike right before or during your period, when estrogen is on the decline. Regular headaches or ones that often surface around the same time each month can be a clue that your levels of this hormone might be shifting.
Caginal Dryness


It’s normal to have this occasionally. But if you often notice that you’re dry or irritated down there, low estrogen may be the reason. The hormone helps vaginal tissue stay moist and comfortable. If your estrogen drops because of an imbalance, it can reduce vaginal fluids and cause tightness.

Loss of Libido


Most people think of testosterone as a male hormone, but women’s bodies make it, too. If your testosterone levels are lower than usual, you might have less of an interest in sex than you usually do.
Breast Changes


A drop in estrogen can make your breast tissue less dense. And an increase in the hormone can thicken this tissue, even causing new lumps or cysts. Talk to your doctor if you notice breast changes, even if you don’t have any other symptoms that concern you.

Your Hormones, Your Health

Feeling bloated, irritable, or just not your best? A hormone imbalance could be to blame. Hormones are chemical “messengers” that impact the way your cells and organs function. It’s normal for your levels to shift at different times of your life, such as before and during your period or a pregnancy, or during menopause. But some medications and health issues can cause them to go up or down, too.
 

Fasting- A Cautionary Tale

THE STARVING THYROID?
If you have been diagnosed or suggested that you may have under active thyroid – READ THIS STORY.

Jason was a very successful personal trainer and like many others in the field, he was a self-experimenting. He had typical symptoms of Thyroid fatigue. He was practicing intermittent fasting and was also going through some very stressful times in his life.
Could these factors have been the cause of his symptoms and lab results? A little bit of fasting here and there shouldn’t cause this, but if you take it to the extreme, it’s definitely possible.

Our bodies sense starvation in times of extreme caloric deficit. When this perceived starvation happens, one way that the body protects itself and preserves energy is by lowering energy expenditure via the thyroid.
Normally, a healthy thyroid converts T4 hormone to T3 (which, again, is the active form of thyroid hormone). A sick thyroid often converts T4 to reverse T3 instead.
This might be happening to Jason.

To prove this was happening he stopped fasting and ate more, had lab tests while he was on the T3 (Cytomel) thyroid replacement. On the T3 replacement, his symptoms were variable, but overall better than they had been before replacement.
The tests and assessments
ordered the same thyroid panel as before.

RESULTS
Now, only T4 was abnormal. As expected, since normally a thyroid gland secretes mostly T4 (inactive compared to T3) with only some T3. The T4 is then converted to the active T3 in other parts of the body. Since Jason was taking exogenous T3 (Cytomel), his body wasn’t making the T4 anymore, which is why it shows as low.

Time to test the thyroid fatigue hypothesis.
The prescription
PART 1: WEAN OFF THE CYTOMEL
This would be the tough part. Cytomel (T3 – liothyronine) was the only thing during Jason’s illness that made him feel better.

PART 2: FIX THE DIET
I thought Jason’s problems were caused by low calories (and maybe even carbohydrates too). He needed to stop the long fasts and consistently eat at least his calculated caloric needs for the day.
We couldn’t fix the underlying problem without this step.

THE OUTCOME
After 2 months, more labs tests.
While Jason was somewhat discouraged with these lab findings, He was going in the right direction. He continued to eat well and maybe even take it easy in the gym for the next month.
He took NO T3, no matter what. The next set of labs had to be accurate.
After 2 more months he had more lab tests.
Jason was off T3, and his symptoms were mostly resolved.

SUMMARY
Jason was complaining of fatigue. He’d been to multiple doctors who diagnosed him with various conditions. He was inappropriately started on thyroid replacement without fixing the underlying cause.
By addressing the real problems — metabolic down-regulation because of stress and inadequate food intake — Jason was able to come off medication and on to a new, healthier path.

What can we learn from Jason’s story?
If you are constantly fatigued, see your doctor.

Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) may be a symptom of something else, and it doesn’t always have to be treated with thyroid replacement.

Find the actual problem.
In Jason’s case it wasn’t his thyroid, it was his low calorie intake.

Look at your allostatic load — the sum total of all the mental, physical, and emotional stressors in your life. You may be more stressed out than you realize — and if so, your body will give you clues.

Listen to your body..