As women we are blessed with a myriad of ever cycling chemical messengers that manage and control our menstrual cycle, mood and behaviour. When they are in balance we tend to not really know they are there. When they are disrupted, out of balance, we get symptoms ranging from severe to minor. Some of these symptoms can suggest dysfunction of a particular hormone. Ask yourself these questions as a start in uncovering if any hormonal imbalances exist within your body.
How long is your cycle?
Typically the normal menstrual cycle length is between 28-35 days numbered from the first day you bleed to the day before your next day 1. If your period is shorter then this it may suggest impairment to the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle, the time where progesterone needs to be relatively high compared with estrogen. If you’re skipping months or having a long cycle length this may also suggest disruption in estrogen / progesterone balance.
From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective (TCM) this might translate to qi deficiency and issues with the Spleen, an organ responsible for producing energy and impaired by chronic anxiety and the Liver, an organ responsible for energy distribution and hormone metabolism.
Cramps are not normal. Seriously. Even if it “runs in your family” or you’ve had them since your first ever period they represent possible underlying hormone issues and/or mineral imbalance or both. Calcium dis-regulation can play a role in this and can be linked to hyperparathyroidism and vitamin D deficiency. Decreasing or managing inflammation can often provide results. Staying away from inflammation causing foods (refined sugars, caffeine, trans fat, high carb) and finding out your unique food sensitivity profile is also helpful in relieving this disruption of your menstrual cycle.
Are your emotions overwhelming?
Depression or irritability periodically throughout the month linked to your menstrual cycle – also not normal. Really. Moodiness, depression, and sugar cravings may be suggestive of estrogen imbalance. Moodiness with anxiety, insomnia etc may point the finger at progesterone imbalance. Moodiness related to rage and irritability may be related to Liver qi stagnation from a TCM perspective.
Hormones are signal molecules. Similar to a transit system, hormones need to cover a wide landscape, be reliable and communicate with other departments to work properly. If it’s not working, you need to figure out why.
- Is it because there are no resources to maintain these networks (ie your body is busy fighting stress)?
- Is it because there is shift to the landscapes (ie developmental changes like puberty / menopause or too much pseudo hormone intake through toxins or fat accumulation)?
- Is it because the buses aren’t being made properly (poor building blocks for hormonal development)?
There are of course many more reasons why your menstrual cycle, hormones, and their signalling could be off and understanding yours is an individual journey.
Remember always try and get to the root of the problem and use your symptoms to guide you there.
Dr. Sarah Kent blends traditional knowledge with current scientiﬁc understanding to generate wellness within her patients. She has received specialized training in naturopathic sports medicine, applying the principles and tools of naturopathic care in treating athletes. With these skills she’s helped patients improve their sport performance, rehabilitate & prevent injury.