Sometimes it seems that hormone imbalance in women can be blamed for any and all emotional unbalances women may have. If we have a bad day there is always someone who accuses us of having PMS. If we have acne, hormones. If we are tired, hormones. If we have a bad hair day…OK, so maybe bad hair days can’t be blamed on hormone imbalance in women but perhaps the restless night we had before it can?
A lot of my patients complain from a variety of symptoms and also have mild to severe side effects from fertility treatment protocols. Why? Because their hormones (endocrine system) and nervous system are unbalanced. This leads to an unbalanced blood and ki circulatory system.
So what is the endocrine system and where exactly is it?
The endocrine system refers to the collection of glands of an organism that secrete hormones directly into the circulatory system to be carried towards a distant target organ. This system regulates metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things. Hormones relating to the female cycle are produced in five key areas of the body: the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the ovaries, the ovarian follicle and the egg. Each area is part of a delicate symphony, increasing or decreasing hormones in harmony. PMS should, in theory, be non existent and it should, from a hormonal standpoint, be easy to get pregnant when all is in working order within the female cycle. This is not always the case though.
So let’s talk a little more about the endocrine system:
The hypothalamus is usually defined as the part of the brain that coordinates both the autonomic nervous system and triggers the pituitary Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). It specifically controls body temperature, thirst, hunger, and other homeostatic systems. It is also involved in sleep and emotional activity.
The pituitary gland is a major endocrine gland. This pea-sized gland is attached to the base of the brain (see picture below). It is important in controlling growth and development and the functioning of the other endocrine glands. The pituitary gland produces Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which triggers the follicle to mature and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) which triggers ovulation of the follicle.
Within the ovaries (follicle) the maturing follicle produces Estrogen (E2). Estrogen signals the brain to slow down the FSH production and start LH production in pituitary glands. It also thickens the uterine wall.
The corpus luteum is the empty follicle from which the egg was released. It produces Progesterone. Progesterone signals the brain to stop producing LH. Progesterone also works to thicken the uterine lining and produces vaginal mucus to help the sperm swim up to the egg. Last but not least, hCG is produced by a developing embryo which tells the corpus luteum to continue to produce Progesterone and Estrogen. If these two hormone levels are low than menses is triggered and the cycle starts all over again. When high they help to maintain pregnancy.
(the above picture is courtesy of PCOSdiva.com)
A balanced nervous system produces a balanced endocrine system which in turn creates a balanced circulatory and ki system. While this may sound like a top down system, it is not. One in-balance in the system can lead to an untuned mess. Something akin to the ugly step sister singing at the piano in Cinderella.
So what are the clues that your system is out of tune? And what can you do to fix it?
A simple blood test will give you the cold hard facts about your hormone levels. Your doctor will probably ask you to get them regularly if you are undergoing fertility treatment. An irregular period, restless sleep, acne, little to no vaginal discharge, facial hair, thinning hair and heavy perspiration are just some of the symptoms of an unbalanced endocrine system.
To be honest, identifying hormone imbalance in women is the easy part. Rebalancing your body can take several months or even years and it will require a bit of hard work on your part. The first thing you need to think about is what are the factors the set your body on this topsy turvy path. Do you sleep enough and at the right time? Are you eating acidic, cold foods and/or overeating? Do you over stimulate your body with outside, digital influences while neglecting to work out? Is your body stiff from lack of movement? All of these things prevent the body from making, sending and receiving hormones. It is hard to say if an unbalanced body and lifestyle cause friction with the endocrine system, or if it is the other way around.
So here are the top five things I recommend you do towards your journey of health and rejuvenation:
1) Walk! Walk everyday 30 min./day without a bag. Swing your arms and really extend your legs back. Enjoy the sky and trees. Listen to the birds. Reconnect with the world! Walking not only is a great stress relief but it also helps the body to circulate more freely and stretches the muscles around the pelvic. Loose muscles = happy life.
2) Get acupuncture at least 1/week. Acupuncture helps you to realign your body. Think of it as a spring cleaning that you do inside your body on a weekly basis.
3) Do moxibustion (heat treatment) at home. Ask your acupuncturist the best points for your body to improve you overall.
4) Get in bed early and rise early. This may be the most important thing so pay attention: Nothing is better than a good nights sleep to reset your entire system, including the endocrine.
5) Eat, laugh and meditate. A happy, relaxed and well fed body has almost no choice other than to be healthy.
Until next time…
Heather Maya Suzuki
Pictures from: pcosdiva.com