Sex Hormones’ effect on PMS
While many people believe that hormonal imbalance is the primary culprit that causes PMS, laboratory tests do not always back up that idea. In fact, routine laboratory tests indicate that women who suffer from PMS often have normal hormone levels. Testing can be misleading.
Multiple studies have indicated that women who suffer from PMS and PMDD may be more sensitive to changing hormone levels in particular estrogen and progesterone than other women are even when hormone levels appear to be adequate. Link to the study document here: Cause of PMS, sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone
Hormones are chemical messengers formed by your body. They stimulate or curtail actions by cells within your body. Hormones are impacted by many factors, including stress, age, and diet. The human body produces over 60 different hormones. Your body uses many of the same building blocks to form vastly different hormones. There are hormones which impact mood, fluid balance, food cravings, perception of pain and all other mental, emotional, and physical processes. Hormones must be correctly balanced. Simply having adequate amounts of hormones doesn’t ensure that you won’t experience symptoms of PMS. The hormones must be balanced in proportion to each other. They must be easily circulated and eliminated efficiently. If nutrients are lacking or if stress has depleted the building blocks of hormones, then the hormones which impact PMS may be altered or deficient.
Hormone levels are constantly in flux. They change at puberty, during pregnancy and as menopause approaches and occurs. Menstruating women experience frequent changes in hormone levels throughout the monthly cycle. Hormones rely on the entire body to function well. If circulation is impaired, they won’t get to tissues efficiently. If the liver isn’t functioning optimally, excess hormone levels may cause imbalance.
Dance of your Hormones
Let’s take a look at how your hormones impact PMS. Please keep in mind that this is a very simplified description of the complex processes which take place.
Gonadotropin hormones (GH) are formed in the hypothalamus of your brain. GH target the pituitary gland in your head. One of the hormones produced by the pituitary in response to GH is follicle stimulating hormone. (FSH). FSH helps your body to produce follicles, immature eggs. In your ovaries. Each month, 1 follicle matures to become an egg. It is released by the ovary. Follicles produce estrogen. Estrogen levels increase during the first half of your menstrual cycle until the egg is released.
GH also stimulates production of Luteinizing hormone (LH). LH is made and produced by your pituitary gland too. After the mature egg is released by your ovary each cycle, LH stimulates a structure, the corpus luteum, which formerly housed the mature egg, to produce progesterone. After the egg is released each cycle, your progesterone levels rise.
Bio-Identical Hormones are Key to Relief
Progesterone is particularly sensitive to stress. The building blocks of progesterone are also used to make hormones which relieve stress. If you experience a lot of stress, your body may essentially “run out” of the materials it needs to make adequate amounts of progesterone. This can result in mood swings, and a multitude of other PMS symptoms. Anything that interferes with hormone levels or the synchronization of hormone production, release, or metabolism can predispose you to suffering from PMS. The relationship of the hormones is much like a dance. Precise timing and hormones working together are essential for optimal health.
Herbs and bio-identical natural hormone therapies are an important part of an effective treatment plan which reduces the likelihood of your “running out “of progesterone and prevents PMS. Bio-identical hormone products relieve headaches, moods swings, and many other PMS symptoms. Look for formulas that are organic and preservative free. Bio- identical hormone creams are made of phytoestrogen rich herbs, including wild yam. They may include other herbs which improve their effectiveness. It’s important to use a product that delivers the correct dose of the cream. I recommend 20 mg of Micronized 2% Bioidentical Progesterone daily. Check out our Bountiful Bird natural progesterone cream for PMS relief
Symptoms of PMS are impacted by many hormones. For example, hormones that impact fluid balance may determine whether or not you get bloated or not each month. Oxytocin is a “feel good “hormone that is often depleted by stress. You may be more likely to suffer from emotional upsets if you are subjected to ongoing stress.
Excess Estrogen is a Problem!
Your body makes 3 types of estrogen. They are quite different from each other. They need to be balanced with each other. Some of the estrogens that your body produce keep your healthy, while other types can be harmful if they are imbalanced or excessive. The estrogens also need to be carefully balanced with progesterone levels. Disruption may result in physical, emotional, or mental distress.
We have too much Estrogen!
We are exposed to excess estrogen every single day. Estrogens from the environment are called exogenous estrogens. These types of estrogen are particularly harmful
Toxins from plastics, pesticides, and body care products expose us to unhealthy synthetic estrogens. Pollutants which disrupt hormones can be found in some seafood and poultry products.
If you take birth control pills, or use other hormonally based contraceptives, you are being exposed to potentially harmful artificial hormones. Read the product labels and you will see the risk factors associated with these powerful drugs. Some medical providers prescribe contraceptives to ease PMS symptoms. This practice actually disrupts hormones further.
Did you know that if you consume dairy products, you are ingesting estrogens? Some of the hormones are naturally found in products like milk. Unethical large scale farmers inject their cows with artificial hormones so that they produce larger quantities of milk. In many jurisdictions, these products are not required to be labeled as originating from animals treated with artificial hormones.
Since girls are maturing at younger ages, they are exposed to estrogen for a longer time than if menarche occurred later. This means that total estrogen exposure and production is higher. Health problems related to estrogen exposure increase.
Other Factors which Worsen PMS
Biochemical changes within the brain many play a role in the presence of PMS. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies make PMS symptoms worse. Consuming excess salt, caffeine and alcohol worsen PMS. Shift work and lack of sleep certainly exacerbate PMS symptoms. Hormones and other bodily functions are impacted.
What Can I do to Reduce PMS Symptoms and have Healthy Hormones?
You can protect your body from hormonal problems by eating a clean diet, getting rest and exercise, and taking a stance against hormone disrupting products and practices. Staying hydrated and eating fiber rich foods helps circulate hormones and eliminate hormone disrupters. Certain herbs contain compounds which occupy hormonal receptor sites in the body, thereby protecting the body from exposure to unhealthy hormones and reestablishing healthy levels of non-toxic hormones. As stated above, using bio- identical hormones is a key strategy.
PMS results from a combination of factors. You can change many factors that can turn up or turn down symptoms of PMS.
Aurora graduated as a medical herbalist in 2011 with areas of interests in mental health, women’s health, and nutrition – specifically how to use nutrition in combination with herbal medicine. I have always been interested in botany and gardening, but it became full time passion (read obsession) when I realised I could use this interest to help people with herbal remedies.