Hormonal imbalances can lead to irregular cycles, amenorrhea (no menstrual cycle) and abnormal ovulation.
- FSH: High Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) can be indicative of declining ovarian reserve. The body steadily increases FSH seeking to stimulate maturation of the follicles in the ovaries. The reading is high due to the decreased number of follicles responding.
- LH: Lutenizing Hormone is given off by the Pituitary gland at the same time that FSH is. A surge of LH mid-cycle is what causes ovulation to occur. LH is generally checked on Cycle day 3 and compared to FSH levels. They should be close to a 1:1 ratio. Higher LH can indicate PCOS.
- TSH: Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), either too low or high, can impact prolactin production and lead to cycle irregularities or anovulation.
- Progesterone: Progesterone is produced post ovulation and is important in maintaining pregnancy. Progesterone helps the uterine lining to thicken and prepare for pregnancy. Low progesterone will prevent the uterine lining from thickening and may cause early menstruation or a shortened Luteal phase. Other signs of low progesterone can include foggy thinking, dry skin, fatigue and headaches.
- Estrogen: Low estrogen can impact ovulation, sometimes by extending the follicular phase of the cycle (pre-ovulation) or leading to no ovulation occurring. Too high of estrogen could mean you have low ovarian reserve. It could also mean that it’s impacting FSH levels by falsely suppressing it. Either can lead to issues with infertility.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine:
Acupuncture helps regulate and balance hormones. Research concluded that, “acupuncture modulates endogenous regulatory systems, including the sympathetic nervous system, the endocrine system, and the neuroendocrine system.”
Sometimes used to regulate the menstrual cycle and support follicular and luteal phases.
Here are some ways to use food to regulate your hormones:
- Eat foods high in Omega 3 fats. These are fats that reduce inflammation and help balance estrogen.
- These foods support progesterone production: beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage cauliflower, kale, nuts, pumpkin, spinach and whole grains.
- Foods with naturally occurring phytoestrogens (plant based compounds that mimic estrogen) which bind to estrogen receptor sites and help the body excrete excess estrogen.
- Eliminate foods that were raised or processed with hormones, like certain meat or dairy products. Try to eat only organic or locally raised.
Stress increases cortisol. Cortisol then impacts blood sugar levels, sex drive and cause irregular cycles. Meditation and moderate exercise help to calm the central nervous system and moderate cortisol levels.
written by Andrea Iwi'ula in the Bellevue office