I’ve been on a wellness journey for years as I know many of you have too. Today I want to talk about female HORMONES. This is a topic I have learned a lot about over the past four years and continue to every day. It all started prior to me getting pregnant with Ford AND has come full circle after having West. I mentioned on Instagram that I would be sharing my experience and the response I received was crazy!! So many of you have gone through figuring out hormones/postpartum and feel like this conversation should happen MORE often. I agree.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. This is MY understanding of hormones after talking with numerous doctors, listening to podcasts and reading many articles as well as MY personal experience. Please seek out the care of a doctor for any questions you have.
Let’s first start with the basics…
Estrogen – In women, estrogen is produced in the ovaries and is responsible for functions like ovulation, menstruation, breast development, and increasing bone and cartilage density. Having too little estrogen can cause weakened bones, menstrual problems, fertility issues, and mood disorders.
Progesterone – Like estrogen, progesterone plays a key part in the menstrual cycle. It helps prepare the uterus for pregnancy and is an important factor in the early stages of pregnancy – more about my experience with this below! Low progesterone levels can cause heavy and irregular menstrual periods and fertility problems as well as decreased sex drive and additional weight gain.
Testosterone – Women produce testosterone (not just men) in the ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat cells. This hormone contributes to sex drive, fat distribution, muscle strength, bone mass and red blood cell production. Females who have too much testosterone may have thinning hair on their heads, excess body hair, facial hair, acne, more body fat, low libido, and smaller breasts.
DHEAS – Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone that your body naturally produces in the adrenal gland. DHEAS helps produce other hormones, including testosterone and estrogen. Essentially, the amount of DHEAS in your blood stream correlates with how well your adrenal glands are working. Mine are EXTREMELY low hence my adrenal glands being burnt out.
Cortisol – This hormone is produced by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear. It has many responsibilities that keep you healthy and energetic. Cortisol is responsible for helping regulate metabolism, regulating blood pressure, acting as an anti-inflammatory and controls your sleep/wake cycle. Low levels can cause weakness, fatigue and low blood pressure. High cortisol can result in the deposition of fat, often in the middle section of the body as well as menstrual cycle issues, thinning hair, acne and night sweats.
I did two tests prior to trying to get pregnant. The reasoning was to have a baseline of my “female” health in case we were not successful. I had my blood taken to check my egg count (highly recommend & very easy for your OBGYN to do) as well as a saliva spit test.
Luckily I listened to a specific episode of a podcast (The Lady Gang) with Candace Burch, a hormone doctor, where she explained how low progesterone causes many miscarriages. This is WHY I decided to have my hormones checked. Here is the link to her website with more info.
Once I got my results back, all my levels where normal except my progesterone. I had a consultation with Dr. Burch over the phone where she provided me with a ton of information, and prescribed me an all-natural cream. The goal was to elevate my progesterone prior to trying to get pregnant. I did this for a few months, Luke and I then started to try and I got pregnant soon after. I’m very glad I got ahead of figuring out my hormones before carrying a baby.
After three years of being pregnant and/or breastfeeding my body has been feeling drained. Not to mention my mental health has taken a toll. Overall my energy has been down and my anxiety has increased. I’m aware there are other factors involved: becoming a new mom, lack of sleep, Covid world, etc. However I knew it was something more, so I found a local Naturopath doctor about 2 months ago.
Right away I started on herbs to support the areas of my body that were lacking. I also took another hormone salvia test. We got the result back last week and my Doc said to me, “they are in the basement – no wonder you’re feeling this way”. I was not surprised and to be honest, relieved. Deep breath… I COULD do something about it!
I am now on a program to help support my ovaries and adrenal glands, which will help balance my hormones. To be clear, I’m not taking actual hormones but rather supporting the parts of my body that naturally create them. For 90 days I’m going to follow my doctors program, and then test again to see where I’m at.
Remember, hormones can affect physical AND mental health. Each person is very different, so make sure to figure out what works for YOU.
Note: I did not have my thyroid tested but have heard many stories from women where this was their issue postpartum.
The Skinny Confidential Podcast – Lauryn Balancing Hormones After Pregnancy
Dr. Candace Burch Hormone Expert – at-home Saliva Test Kits