Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hormones, continued

Wow!  I didn't think everyone would feel so strongly about hormones.

Since Andrea asked, I'll tell you some of my personal problems.   Then I'll go into some of my notes from the book.

My problems mostly started after the birth of my second child.  Prior to Brynne's birth I cycled about every 35 days and was somewhat predictable.  I used no hormone-controlled birth control after her birth (as opposed to something like a condom).  But then I had a hard time getting pregnant with Logan.  I had a miscarriage.  My cycle ran crazily long - I'd have between 3-6 periods a year.  I attributed it to stress.  We moved a lot, I had an early-morning paper route for awhile, etc.  I was able to get pregnant a year after the miscarriage.  After Logan's birth my doctor convinced me to try Depo-Provera - which is the 3 month birth control shot.  I had it twice.  The second time my period started and never stopped.  When I went to the doctor about it they said that I was having a "reaction" and I would have to wait for all the hormones to go out of my body before my body went back to normal.  I was ready to have another baby anyway, so I wasn't too concerned about the birth control cycle being done.  My body never went back to normal.  My cycles ran anywhere from 2-9 months - totally unpredictable.  After 3 years of trying to have a baby I went to see a different doctor (we'd moved).  He suggested we try to regulate my cycle.  Since I wanted to have a baby he put me on progestin.  It didn't work at all in the way he said it would work.  Among other things, I had terrible hormonal issues for 2 weeks out of every month.  It felt like morning sickness times 10.  After six months I decided I'd had enough of that.  I stopped the drug.  A month later I got pregnant quite by accident/surprise.  I was thrilled.  Kenna is 4.5 years younger than Logan.  After Kenna was born I decided NO MORE  HORMONE BIRTH CONTROL of any sort.  I wanted to give my body a chance.  I'd only used hormone birth control for a combined total of 7 months out of my entire marriage.  It wasn't excessive.  But it wasn't a good thing for my body.  Anyway, I got pregnant again a month after I stopped nursing Kenna. 

I stopped nursing Natalie in January of this year.  I'm still having those crazy cycles.  I think it was a blessing from Heavenly Father to be able to have her so soon after Kenna.  But those two pregnancies back to back wore me out, so I'm currently using the copper-T IUD because it does not have any hormones.  I would love to do natural family planning, but since I have no predictability to my cycle, I'm trying to get that more regular before I move away from the IUD.  I have mixed feelings about birth control.   I know there are people who think it's a totally evil thing.  I think the hormone ones can be bad for our bodies, but I don't think it's necessary evil for people to - with spiritual guidance - control the size of their families.  But that's a whole separate topic.  I had problems before I even tried the depo-provera, but I do blame the depo-provera for making my problems worse.

I don't have PMS very much.  I do have a family history of women with fibroids and hysterectomies, which I am trying to avoid.   I also have irregular and anovulatory cycles.

So on to the book:

Chapter 1: PMS is not a natural or inevitable part of life, but rather one created by our culture, lifestyles, and environment.   It is a result of hormone imbalances, most of them caused by an excess of the hormone estrogen and a deficiency of the hormone progesterone.  It's also about women being out of touch with the cycles and rhythms of their bodies, their feelings, and their souls.

Chapter 3: excess or a deficiency of estrogens can make a world of difference in a woman's outlook on life and her overall health and well-being.  Excessive estrogen can cause cancer.  Estrogen dominance is 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.  Symptoms of estrogen dominance:
acceleration of aging process
allergy symptoms, including asthma, hives, rashes, sinus congestion
autoimmune disorders
breast cancer
breast tenderness
cervical dysplasia
cold hands and feet as a symptom of thyroid dysfunction
copper excess
decreased sex drive
depression with anxiety or agitation
dry eyes
early onset menstruation
endometrial cancer
fat gain
fibrocystic breasts
foggy thinking
gallbladder disease
hair loss
increased blood clotting
irregular menstrual periods
magnesium deficiency
memory loss
mood swings
polycystic ovaries
premenopausal bone loss
prostate cancer
sluggish metabolism
thyroid dysfunction mimicking hypothyroidism
uterine cancer
uterine fibroids
water retention/bloating
zinc deficiency

causes of estrogen dominance include the environment: pesticides, plastics, waste products, car exhaust, meat, soaps, and other solvents.  All called xenohormones.  Most noticeable symptom is lack of ovulation.

If you have your hormone levels tested, be sure progesterone levels are tested to in order to compare to estrogen.  Estrogen levels by themselves don't signify much.

Chapter 4: progesterone
evils of synthetic progesterones and progestins.  Natural progesterone is cheap and fairly safe to use.  Hard to overdose on.  Chapter 16 goes into greater detail on it's actual uses and how to find a good one.  It is NOT prescription.  Usually can find in health food stores - but there are ones that you should NOT buy.  the book details what to look for and gives some suggestions of reputable brands in the appendix.  It's fairly safe to experiment with on your own, but you can see your doctor to have lab work done.  There's a section on the testing - what sorts of results you'll get and how to interpret them.  And notes that hormone levels fluctuate greatly - even over the course of a day - so the best indicator is symptoms, not lab tests, and they treat the symptoms to get you feeling good.

Chapter 5: disturbing effects of xenohormones in environment -
undersized penises of boys who's mothers were exposed to PCBs
50% decrease in sperm count since 1938
increased incidence of testicular and prostate cancer
endometrial cancer
cervical cancer in women who mothers were given DES (which is synthetic estrogen)
postmenopausal osteoporosis
change in sexual orientation
estrogen dominance syndrome
increases in breast cancer

Osteoporosis is more prevalent now, and more severe, and is occurring 15 years or more before menopause.
(My insert - and this in a country where dairy consumption - the supposed cure for osteoporosis - is higher than any other country)
Chapter 8 - a whole chapter devoted to PMS
The most important physical influences on PMS are hormonal imbalances caused by stress, diet, and environmental toxins.  Natural increase in sensitivity in a woman premenstrually,.
Healing PMS -
*correct estrogen dominance with natural progesterone cream
*take a daily multivitamin that includes zinc, B complex, vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin E, etc.  take additional vitamin B6
*Eat a plant-based, fiber-rich diet of fresh, organic vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes
*eat fish at least twice a week
*try herbal formula for PMS that includes some or all of: peony root, milk thistle, Vitex, wild yam, dandelion root, yarrow, and nettle
*manage stress
*get some exercise every day
*keep a journal and allow yourself to nitice the deeper levels of your anger and pain.  seek to resolve unresolved issues the rest of the month

what to avoid:
*birth control pills
*unopposed estrogen
*situations that cause anovulatory cycles
*sugar and refined carbs
*rancid unsaturated oils and dydrogenated oils
*feed-lots meats
*pesticides of all kinds
*chronic stress

Chapter 14 - Nutrition
There isn't one right way that works for everyone.  Get to know your body.  In general - organic, fresh, whole-grains.  Fish in moderation is good for you.  Less sugar and refined carbs.  Plenty of fresh air, exercise, and STRETCHING!  think of processed foods as the enemy. ;-)   Identify problem foods - you can have too much of a good thing.  yeast - importance of probiotics, proper vitamins.


There you have it!  I got the book from my library, but it's pretty cheap at Amazon.  Lots more information, of course and some of it is pretty technical.  One doctor spent much of his career studying the effects of progesterone on women, so he's basing his knowledge on research that he conducted himself.  The female doctor likes to use both traditional and non-traditional healing techniques, which I personally like, to help people have happy, balanced, healthy lives.  She's spent her career treating women.

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