Hormone Imbalance: Recognizing and Resolving It Naturally

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Written by Sharon Kaufman, Contributing Writer

Note: Because so many readers of Keeper of the Home are of childbearing age, it is important to clarify that hormonal imbalance is not exclusive to older women. Even teenagers can be affected by it, PMS being one of the symptoms. Please keep reading.

Me? Imbalanced?

A little over ten years ago, I encountered premenopausal problems that included, emotional ups and downs, sleepless nights, difficulties with my cycle, hot flashes and more. At one point I thought I might be pregnant. Being fifty at the time, after the shear panic wore off a little, I rushed to the drugstore, purchased for the first time in my life a pregnancy test kit, flew home and to my relief, tested negative. (It threw me off momentarily, but had I tested positive I would have happily accepted it as God’s will.)

My 19 year-old daughter, the youngest child, came home shortly after this excitement and found the pregnancy-test package. In sheer disbelief that her aged mother could ever bear any more children and equally alarmed that she might be wrong about that, she came running out of the bathroom, box in hand, to investigate. Her single question, “Who was THIS for Mom!!!?”, confirmed her suspicions that I was the “testee” and then she writhed in agony until I told her that the results were negative. (Now I’ll vindicate my daughter. She absolutely adores children and, at the time, was only concerned because I’d had additional health problems.)

For six years I had followed a regimen of hormone replacement therapy which was supposed to have helped. But my cycle had gradually become quite unbearable with profuse bleeding and clotting. (Please bear with me. If you are suffering hormone imbalance, you need details so you can begin to heal.) As it turned out, I had uterine fibroid tumors, ovarian cysts and symptoms that mimicked ovarian cancer.

YamWild

Natural progesterone is derived from the wild yam plant. Although processed in a lab, the resulting hormone is molecularly identical to what our bodies make and is used by our bodies in the same way.

Image by marthamagenta

Saved from an unnecessary surgery

Not yet aware that the typical processed American diet destroys health, I followed the herd, listening to the popular medical media concerning diet, nutrition and everything else. When my gynecologist recommended surgery, it was only by the grace of God (through a good friend) that I was prevented from getting a hysterectomy which would have further compromised my health.

My gynecologist had prescribed both estrogen and oral progesterone. Now, six years later, after growing progressively worse, it became apparent to me that  my symptoms escalated when I put on a new estrogen patch. That’s when my friend, Mary, being ten years older than me and informed about menopause, came to my rescue by giving me a book – What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause – Balance Your Hormones and Your Life from Thirty to Fifity, by John R. Lee and Jesse Hanley, both medical doctors.

Recognizing and reeducating myself about hormonal imbalance

As I read, it became obvious that to me my symptoms were caused by an estrogen overload in my body, just the opposite of what I had been led to believe by doctors, magazine articles, and the popular media, etc.

Explaining that women of all ages suffer from estrogen dominance, the book revealed that our environment exposes us to estrogen through foods we eat, plastics, pesticides, car exhaust, soaps, carpeting, furniture, etc. But I read that estrogen dominance can even involve low estrogen levels. Basically, estrogen dominance “describes a condition where a woman can have deficient, normal or excessive estrogen but has little or no progesterone to balance its effects in the body” (p. 45), so estrogen dominates.

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Women of all ages suffer from hormone imbalance.

Now, you’d think that since I was taking progesterone that my hormones would have balanced out, but it was not so. I learned that the “hormone” that I had been taking wasn’t progesterone at all, but a chemical analog of progesterone, called a “progestin”, which is very different from the progesterone my body makes. In fact, it is not produced by nature anywhere – only in pharmaceutical laboratories. That is what I had been putting into my body for six years.

Reading further, I was stunned to discover that progestins are very different from the natural progesterone our bodies make. Dr. Lee explains, “…progestins inhibit normal progesterone production and compete for progesterone receptors, thus effectively blocking one’s own natural progesterone” (p. 71). Illustrating the dissimilarity between progesterone and progestins, Dr. Lee asks, “…why is it that an ample supply of progesterone is essential for a healthy pregnancy, while even tiny amounts of progestins are contraindicated during pregnancy because they cause birth defects?”. No wonder I’d had so many problems!

Resolving my hormone imbalance

Long story shorter…I began using natural progesterone cream to balance the estrogen overload (specifically Emerita brand; for a list of quality brands please visit Dr. Lee’s website). Within two months, my cycle had ceased never to return, the fibroids began shrinking, the cysts disappeared, and all the symptoms vanished. I continued using the cream for several years until I began developing a progesterone dominance. Now, 10 years later, I am still symptom and problem-free.

Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance

Since women of all ages can develop estrogen dominance, it is important to know the symptoms, which include:

PMS, breast tenderness, decreased sex drive, fatigue, headaches, dry eyes, irritability, uterine fibroids, insomnia, breast tenderness, infertility, early onset of menstruation, depression, memory loss, foggy thinking, thyroid dysfunction, fat gain, mood swings, polycystic ovaries, water retention, gallbladder disease, hypoglycemia, irregular menstrual periods, hair loss, osteoporosis, magnesium deficiency, and more. (Go here for a comprehensive list of symptoms.)

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A word of caution to the wise

If you suspect that you are suffering from a hormonal imbalance, please start by getting Dr. Lee’s book, which lays out how you should use the cream. It is not just a matter of rubbing some on whenever you feel like it. The cream must be used very specifically to mimic your body’s own production of progesterone (for instance, 3 weeks of the month using the cream one week off.) If the cream is misused, it can create more problems. To further educate yourself please refer to this website.

One last thing…

When you purchase natural progesterone cream, you may notice a warning about cancer on the label. This is required by law in the state of California because progesterone’s chemical analog (progestin) actually does cause cancer. Since progestins are referred to as  “progesterone”, natural progesterone was implicated also. To be assured that natural progesterone is a safe product to use, please go here to read more.

Are any of the estrogen-dominance symptoms familiar to you in your experience? How have you been treated for hormone imbalance?

About Sharon Kaufman

Sharon has enjoyed being Robert’s helper for 34 years. She has also loved her role of being mom to their children – one son and three daughters (now all grown) – and “Granny” to seven, and soon to be nine delightful grandchildren. She is passionate about encouraging and equipping women in her church and beyond and also through her blogs (The Good Woman) and (Franziska's Pantry) to embrace and delight in their divinely-designed occupation as helpers.

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Comments

  1. Carissa Vasile says:

    Thank you for this article. I need to get my hormones tested, although I don’t know what can be done since I am currently breastfeeding my almost 7 month old. My mom had hormonal imbalance issues and I KNOW I have them too. I suffered from PPD after each pregnancy and it has never really gone away. After #3, my OBGYN started me on Zoloft to combat the depression. However the prescription ran out and then we changed health insurance carriers and I haven’t been able to get back on. I feel completely not in control of myself. Everything comes out as a yell. I am depressed, my anger goes from 0-100 in no time flat, I am always anxious and sleep terrible (although that is contributed to by the baby of course). My heart rate always feels elevated due to the anxiety. One scream from any of the kids and I just want to go off on someone. I hate it. My husband and I are in marital counseling but I know I need help with my hormones as well. I just don’t want to give up breastfeeding for treatment. We do not vaccinate and I want to be able to provide my baby with the best I can for as long as I can.

    Help?

  2. Thanks for this article!! I just turned 25 and have been using natural progesterone (from Arbonne) to balance out my estrogen dominance for half a year now. I have adrenal fatigue from several years of major stresses/traumas/moving, and that stress combined with being on the birth control pill I think messed up my hormones. I got tested last fall and my estrogen is low, but my progesterone was almost nonexistent!! I’m so happy to read stories from other women who have the same problems I do. It’s tough waiting and trying to get back into balance but I’m so glad I figured out what was wrong with me! I will say it is quite challenging trying to figure out when to use progesterone if you aren’t having a normal cycle though – I’m very interested in checking out the links you recommended.

  3. Hi, I’m 25 and I feel like I’m kind of loosing my mind. I’m have some fairly severe mood swings and irritablitiy, sleep comes and goes, my breat tenderness has increased dramatically in the last few months, some depression. The list goes on but I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for posting it is really helpful to hear others stories and know I’m not alone in loosing my mind :)
    I’m excited to start making some changes and start making myself better.

  4. Mercedes says:

    Hi, I’m wondering if anyone can help identify what I’ve been going through. I’m 30, and for the past 2 or 3 years have not been doing well (depression, not able to think well, not feeling good or like myself, acne, etc. but regular periods), but then I feel better, think better, feel more grounded and in reality, like myself again two to three days before my period starts and the first few days of my period, then it goes away again, same cycle every month. At one point I thought hormone imbalance, and went to an OB/GYN who didn’t test me just wanted to put me on protestin birth control which I didn’t take, then I went to another OB/GYN who did test my estrogen and said fine, but I didn’t do the progesterone test, I guess I got depressed, and often don’t know what I’m doing day to day. He seemed disbelieving that I had a problem and referred me to my psychiatrist. The psychiatrist is more accepting of all possible factors, but I had been trying some medication to help, for ADD, antipsychotic/Abilify to help me think better. I know of the wild yam progesterone but haven’t tried yet because I don’t know much else about hormones and wasn’t certain if that is the issue. I will go get some and try now. I just wanted to know if anyone knew if the symptoms I have do sound like estrogen dominance or progesterone deficiency. Thank you and wish you all well : )

    • Mercedes, you sound just like me! I have the same exact symptoms and timing as you’ve described. I don’t know if you will see this, but I’m wondering if you’ve tried the progesterone cream or anything yet. I’m also looking for answers. This is no fun!

  5. I’m only 37. But, after having 5 children, 4 miscarriages,breast feeding,losing and gaining weight…my body had been through the wringer in a 10 year time period. I was having very irregular, heavy periods, a severe migraine every month,and many of the other symptoms associated with low progesterone. I went to an alternative medicine dr after my regular dr tested me, and said that my hormone levels were fine.
    This new dr. told me that she was shocked I wasn’t worse off, because my progesterone level was at .10/almost non-existent. I cried on the way home from her office; so relieved that I had an answer to why I felt so bad all the time! I started on a natural progesterone cream that I use a couple of weeks out of the month. I no longer have a migraine when I start my period, my pms symptoms are hardly noticeable anymore, I sleep better, I’ve been able to lose weight….
    I will say also that I’ve adopted a “clean” eating approach to life too, which has helped tremendously. I’m curious if anyone else who is on natural progesterone cream has had trouble with breaking out. This is one thing that I can’t figure out. My face is broken out all around my chin, scalp,etc. Everything I’ve researched leads to hormonal stuff. Does anyone have anything to share on this?

  6. Hi my name is Mrs Jenny Ann Folco
    I am married to the love of my life now almost 13 years and together 15 . We have 2 beautiful children Nico James is 6 & Giada Marie is almost 5 this july 25th. I myself started peri menopause or early pre mature ovary failure which started at 24 I woke up one day and felt like I fell off the face of the earth, at 26 my levels had dropped more so I saw a endocrinologist at lahey cllinic whom tested me and told me I had the hormone levels of a 70 yr old & wanted me to start hormone replacement & I considered it but bought the pills and threw them out with a family history of cancer I had to pass.

    Soon after my levels dropped again at 27 by this time I had been begging doctors to test me for early menopause the hot flashes bed soaking so bad I could ring out my clothes 4 times a night my memory was and still is bad sex drive non existent for years I was laughed at finally I found women to women in yarmouth maine who tested me and confirmed I was in early menopause 100% and I was taken off birth control forever at 28 and started vivelle .75 estrogen patch and progesterone pills daily by 28.5 I got pregnant we were trying but not really & I thought I would struggle with hormone issues so I had to stop treatment , I restarted treatment after my son was born the when he was 10 months old I had a cyst block my ovary and was pregnant with my daughter & cried bad why oh why 18 months apart omg . my daughter was 3 months old when my periods stopped she will be 5 God blessed me with her because he knew I would not get the chance. I stuck it out for 2 years driving to maine and finally the last year I switched back to the same guy at the lahey clinic who had treated me years prior or tried to any how when I refused to start hormone therapy.

    My problem is now I am on 0.1 vivelle. estrogen patch the highest dose 2 times a week and just had my estrogen pills switched from 2 weeks on 2 weeks off to every other day because my memory still not so good , my sex drive comes and goes like the weather etc etc I was still very imbalanced spotting from the pills when on and off them so they switched me its been about may 20th almost a month but I still feel so awful the spotting has calmed down but my memory still my sex drive hot flashes are sneaking in again . I am so desperate to be me again I am now 35 years old ill be 36 this august I have been dealing with this for such a long time & my hubby is a saint he sticks in with me comes to all my appointments helps me voice my issues even though I keep track of them on the online calendar from sadness to spotting to sex drive ,insomnia , I even signed up for luminosity.com brian games I feel that dumb sometimes does any one have any idea what could help me get balanced out hormonally please I have let all my friend go seeing they do not understand what I am going through started my website for many reasons my daycare that keeps me thriving to blogs about so many things including starting my own class meets for early menopause http://www.jennyorganizedmom.com leave me comments please any help I would really appreciate so much . With love jenny .

  7. I personally have PCOS and was estrogen dominate. Since I started using Progressence Plus and Endoflex from Young Living Essential Oils, my hormones are in balance, I’ve had normal cycles, and am loosing weight! That is one thing that has worked for me and I’ve used everyything!!!

  8. I am 25 years old and have a 6 year old child. I have always had relatively thin hair but over the past year it has gotten so thin I can see my scalp and when I run my fingers through my hair, my hair barely covers my hand. I also have had issues with weight. I went and got a complete thyroid panel test and it came back saying I am normal. My last resort is to believe I have a hormonal imbalance. I recently started drinking Apple Cider Vinegar and water mix, taking iron, folic acid, b-12, maca powder, fish oil and biotin supplements. I don’t want to get hormone replacement therapy if I can fix it naturally. I will be starting the Nutrisystem diet in a week or so on top of all of that. Can anyone help me?

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