The most common hormonal imbalance I see after stress is oestrogen dominance. It sounds really complicated and overly medical but nearly every woman I have worked with has experienced it at some point in their life. Oestrogen dominance simply means that oestrogen is too high in comparison to progesterone at the point in the cycle where progesterone should be high (e.g. the luteal phase).
This could mean that:
Oestrogen levels are normal, but your progesterone is too low.
Oestrogen levels are low and progesterone levels are even lower.
Oestrogen levels are high and progesterone levels are normal or low.
There is a test that can be done for the progesterone:E2 ratio that will tell you this, but if you are in the UK, you are likely to have to pay for this to be done privately.
However, there are some clear signs that this is happening to you that doesn't require testing is:
Bloating around your period
Dark, heavy periods
Long periods (more than 5 days)
Spotting around ovulation
Short luteal phase (less than 12 days in particular)
Moodswings around your period
Eventually, long periods of time in-between your periods
If you are reading this and thinking "this is me", then here are a few tips to get your started on getting your oestrogen levels in check.
1. Get Your Stress Levels Sorted
Stress, particularly chronic long term stress, delays and prevents ovulation. It is the first step to getting your hormones under control. Most women know what is causing them to feel stressed, it is the doing something about it that poses the biggest challenge.
2. Start Eating Plenty of Dark Green Leafy Veggies
Particularly cruciferous vegetables. Most people need around 3 portions a day (one cupful) in order to maintain good health. But if you aren't eating this much regularly, this can cause a lot of gas until your gut catches up, so increase your intake gradually.
There are lots of ways to get your greens. I know many people do green smoothies which is great. I prefer them cooked and if you have any thyroid conditions or suspect you do, you must cook them first as this lowers the goitrogen content.
3. Up Your Fibre Intake
All plant based food: vegetables, nuts, beans, seeds and fruits contain fibre which is important for making us regular. With oestrogen, we should be using it once and then excreting it out. If you aren't going to the toilet around 3 times a day, the chances are you are re-absorbing the oestrogen leading to oestrogen dominance. Eating enough fibre and water will help with excreting and eliminating this oestrogen. Again, if you aren't eating that much currently, you need to increase this gradually.
4. Drink Plenty Of Water
This is essential for helping you pass stools as you need lubrication to pass them easily and effectively. I can really help with the oestrogen detox.
5. Reduce Your Xeno-Oestrogen Load
Xeno-oestrogens are oestrogen like chemicals in our environment that our body can't tell are not real oestrogen. These can include glyphosate, which is a weedkiller sprayed on genetically modified crops, plastics, particularly those containing bisphenol A (think plastic food containers), and fake fragrances used in personal care and scened products (think scented candles and body wash.
It can be so easy to stress yourself out over exposure to a lot of these things but there are so many that we can avoid such as plastic bags, till receipts, scented candles without too much difficulty and start with those to see if your symptoms improve.
Find Out More
Read About How Sleep Affects Your Menstrual Cycle & Hormones
Read More About Tips For Coming Off The Pill or Other Hormonal Birth Control
Read More About How Your Poop Can Affect Your Periods
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