Yearly physical exams…we all detest them, but we ALL need them! A friend’s bad report prompted my own visit to the doctor this week. One of the things discussed at the appointment was PMS and hormone imbalance—there is a connection between the two. PMS is not just something that happens randomly to women without cause or remedy. Many times there is a hormone imbalance that needs to be checked in order to correct it.
Hormones need to be in balance, so ask your doctor to do a hormone profile to see what your levels are for thyroid hormone, DHEA, cortisol, estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. If one of these is out of kilter, the others are affected too and pre-menstrual symptoms could get out of hand. A hormone specialist, or even your personal doctor, should know how to test you, or you can now order home test kits and take the results to your doctor. Home test kits usually work with saliva or urine samples, and some are tests that require a "blood spot" requiring a little finger prick.
Both women who have suffered from PMS and women who have suffered from menopausal symptoms, will identify with the main symptoms of estrogen dominance: weight gain, bloating, mood swings, irritability, tender breasts, headaches, fatigue, depression, hypoglycemia, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and fibrocystic breasts. Estrogen dominance is known to cause and/or contribute to cancer of the breast, ovary and endometrium (uterus).
In the ten to fifteen years before menopause, many women regularly have anovulatory cycles in which they make enough estrogen to create menstruation, but they don't make any progesterone, which can set the stage for estrogen dominance. Using progesterone cream during anovulatory months can help prevent the symptoms of PMS. Using a natural progesterone cream has personally worked for me and has reduced my PMS symptoms dramatically. Ask your doctor how often and how much to use for your personal situation. Most of the time the progesterone cream is applied to the skin once a day during days 14-28 of the cycle.
Sometimes women often try to supplement randomly with herbs and vitamins in an effort to generate production of one of the hormones, but it's not wise. Too much of a good thing could fuel growth of cancer cells. Additionally, you might grow hair in places you shouldn't (like your chest) and lose it places you want to keep it (like your head).
There are natural remedies you can try, but be sure to check with your doctor to make sure it is safe for you to include these in your health regimen. If you feel irritable or moody, you could try a little bit of magnesium (magnesium glycinate or citrate, about 200-300 mg once or twice daily). Combinations that contain calcium are fine, too. The Siberian herb Rhodiola Rosea is calming, taking about 50-100 mg twice daily. Since tearfulness can be a problem, magnesium could be particularly helpful, as well as St. John's Wort or 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). These may also help you sleep better. Ask your doctor about these last two, especially if you take medications for anxiety, bipolar disorder or depression. Natural remedies and medications do not always mix, so check it out first.
Using some flax seeds on your food can help curtail the effects of excessive estrogens in the body. Fish oil (with meals) has been shown to help reduce cramping and inflammation. Green tea contains a substance that's instantly calming.
Hormones can play such a vital role in maintenance of health that knowledge of an imbalance in any one or more hormones can help bring to light the cause of health problems and provide a rational basis for correcting or managing the imbalance through diet, exercise, or hormone supplementation.