Hormones represent an integral communication system. They are chemical messages that are made in one part of your body and sent through your blood stream to coordinate everything from digestion to ovulation. They even make it possible for you to sleep. They are essential to your health and wellness. Yet most people don’t realize that they also impact how you feel. Your energy level, your hunger even your physical attractions are profoundly impacted by what is happening in your body hormonally. Although we may not think of this delicate balance when we’re at our peak of fitness; people often have a strong sense of “imbalance” they’re not doing well. Yet these symptoms are often overlooked when they can actually provide tremendous insights into what’s going wrong as well as provide strategies to improved health and quality-of-life. By paying attention to your symptoms, you can feel better while boosting your chances of conceiving as well as improve the health of your baby. Here’s how it works.
There are over 200 hormones that can be circulating through your blood stream at any given time and new ones are being discovered every month. I like to think of these hormones in groups according to their function. Most people have heard of the fight-or-flight hormones associated with the stress response. The other groups to consider are tend-and-befriend, rest-and-digest, mate-and-relate. Think of them as if they are different elements on a mobile in a dynamic state of equilibrium; an imbalance in one group can cause an imbalance in another. If you have too much stress hormone for instance, it can cause digestive problems, difficulty with sleep and infertility problems.
Some of the most exciting research in this field is shedding light on the dual role some hormones can play. For instance, one study recently demonstrated that the same hormone—called oxytocin—which is responsible for promoting feelings of love and affection can also contribute to jealousy and envy. Some imbalances can be ominous. For instance, another recent study demonstrated that women with even slightly reduced levels of thyroid hormone during pregnancy are associated with blood pressure problems during pregnancy. That’s why I feel it is so important to consider how hormones interact with one another.
I’ve spent a decade and a half now studying symptoms and how they relate to hormone balance. In my books, I’ve tried to use questionnaires in order to help people gain insight into their own hormone milieu as well as provide practical tips on how they can restore harmony when problems occur. I encourage you to check out PERFECT HORMONE BALANCE FOR FERTILITY and PERFECT HORMONE BALANCE FOR PREGNANCY in order to learn more about how you can optimize how you feel as well as maximize your chance of success. And please check back here as I update this blog with the latest research in this exciting field.
4 thoughts on “Do your hormones feel out of balance?”
I just read your book. I suspect I have a testosterone problem partly due to my sudden onset of adult acne 2 years ago. Can omega 3 supplements increase testosterone? I feel like my acne got worse when I tried adding that supplement to my diet. Thanks!
Sorry to learn of the acne breakout. I can reassure you that there is no data suggesting that omega-3 fatty acids can trigger an imbalance of testosterone. More importantly, I can’t even theorize how that could happen. Typically, any change in testosterone that triggers acne would take several months to manifest. What may have changed several months ago? That may be a better consideration. The fact that you note that this occurred suddenly suggests that the timing with your omega-3 is more coincidental.
Robert Greene, MD, FACOG
I’m in my first trimester and currently reading your book “Perfect Hormone Balance for Pregnancy” and have been pleased to find reinforcement for some of what I’ve learned through trial and error (when I eat protein I feel great – but, if I eat sweets I crash and feel sick in a way that I’ve never experienced before), as well as learning new pointers (eg, the importance of iodized salt). As a vegetarian, your recommendations on eating naturally resonate with me. I’m wondering if you know of any research into the effects of magnesium supplementation on managing morning sickness symptoms? I had horrible all-day morning sickness, and had read that symptoms might abate through magnesium supplementation. I began with topical supplementation, and immediately my queasiness lessened. Over the course of a week, I increased the amount of magnesium I was supplementing with (both orally and topically), and now I’m up to 800 – 1,000 mg / day (with no stomach upset). With each increase, I felt better. (For example, at 400mg / day, my nausea had greatly subsided but my appetite had not returned and neither had bowel regularity). Now my nausea is 90% gone, I’m not vomiting, my appetite has begun to return, I’ve been able to exercise again, I’m sleeping a good 8 hours a night, and my bowel regularity has returned. I almost feel like old self again! Now, I do still feel queasiness when I let my stomach get too empty or I make the mistake of eating food low in protein. I started this experiment in week 9. I’m currently at about 11 weeks, and still feel great. Most important, I am eating healthy whole foods again, and the depression I had started to feel when my morning sickness was at its worst is gone (I mostly attribute it to the horrible physical symptoms, and going from someone who was physically active to someone who would mostly only lay on the couch due to overwhelming and constant nausea). It seems almost crazy to me that a single supplement can make such a huge difference in life quality, but it has truly turned my life around. Could it be that morning sickness symptoms are mostly caused by magnesium deficiency? I have mostly seen anecdotal reports of women having success, and have not seen any exploration of this from the medical community.
Thank you for kind comments and for seeking my input. Unfortunately, I have not seen any such data or experience with magnesium. However, magnesium does influence intestinal motility so you may be on to something. I would encourage you to speak with your OB/GYN and to consider having some labs drawn simply to assure that your electrolytes are not out of balance. Too much magnesium can have a detrimental impact upon calcium for instance. All in all, it is wise to listen to your symptoms and your response but the labs can also provide reassurance that your baby will not be negatively impacted.
Robert Greene, MD, FACOG