Recovery is Possible - Assuming You Know What's Really Wrong... Part 5 - Symptoms vs Tests – Oestrogen Dominance

Sorry for the delay…I’ve been working on the gut blog and it’s taking a while.

A short one for today – I’m going to tackle oestrogen.

I must start this by saying that everyone is different. As I’m female I can’t really talk about male hormones.

My journey to feeling better actually began here. I was very lucky I changed two things and it made an enormous difference to me BUT I have these characteristics and I know a good proportion of women don’t.

First off I don’t have polycystic ovaries, fibroids, endometriosis or anything irregular in relation to my reproductive system.

This is important. If you have any of these things or others I’m pretty sure what I’m going to say may be irrelevant to you.

My reproductive system has always been rock solid, predictable and one of the things I HAVEN”T had to worry about.

1.Prior to getting Hashimoto’s thyroiditis my periods were regular and normal – 28 days/ 5 days long

2.I got some cramps and flow was normal

3.From a PMT point of view I got tired the week before and tense 2-3 days before (including some teariness)

4.I got pregnant easily (first try both times) and my pregnancies and deliveries were both textbook.

It’s nice to be able to write that something works without struggle! I feel very lucky to able to do that.

After childbirth (when Hashimoto’s kicked in) things changed

1.My cycle shortened to 24 days (an acupuncturist said that he sees this a lot). It was still regular like clockwork.

2.PMT got much worse. Specifically I got horrible constipation a week before for ~ 3 days. PMT became brutal (full head-swivel, anger, teary, cramps – full swamp creature!)

I rode these changes out. I didn’t really think too hard about them but they got worse.

At this stage I should mention age.

My mother had children at 36, 37 and hit menopause at 52. I had my first child at 37, second at 38. My guess is I’m peri-menopausal at the moment.

I haven’t done a full hormone panel yet but will in the next month or so.

As my DHEA levels are compromised (see previous blog on Adrenals for more) production of sex hormones has to be out of whack.

Back to symptoms.

The PMT symptoms got worse over time but I didn’t really register (think frog in water that’s being heated up slowly.)

BUT I now realise I became almost impossible to live with. My mood swings became intolerable for me and my husband but it took time. It’s always easy to justify your behaviour by looking at the world around you and blaming it for what’s wrong. This is human nature. I’m not perfect. Neither’s my husband but I was plague with anger and resentment. On some level I remember thinking ‘what’s going on? This isn’t me’. I tried to correct my behaviour but the gaps between the peaks and troughs were few and far between and the feeling of all-consuming tension never let up. It was like having PMT 3 out of 4 weeks.

I had zero libido and zero tolerance.

I can’t quite remember how I came to ask the question that prompted me to dig deeper and look at my hormone balance.

Anyhow I started reading – discovered progesterone was the ‘happy hormone’ and that oestrogen dominance existed.

I know – there are loads of you out there who already know about this. I filled out the symptom checker for oestrogen dominance. I had all the symptoms. Somewhere a penny dropped. I wanted things to change.

Around this time I’d been for a breast scan. My breasts were agony 2out of 4 weeks. One of the doctors suggested starflower or evening primrose oil. Her exact words were – we don’t know why it works but sometimes it does.

I looked them up. Both contain gamma linoleic acid – a good form of omega 6.

I like this reference nccam.nih.gov/health/evenin...

I tried evening primrose oil (1g/day) The breast pain went.

At the same time I started taking a supplement called Premular (Flordis) it contains vitex agnus castus (Chastain) equiv 180mg dry root. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitex... This supplement is used widely in Germany to treat PMS.

Within 10 days ALL my symptoms had gone. I still get slight symptoms 3 days before my period but that’s better than 3 weeks before!! My husband was staggered. So was I. I’m back to being my ‘normal’ self mood-wise.

My views on this…

I was only interested in taking natural remedies. I couldn’t do anything else without the help of an endocrinologist but my training makes me VERY wary of messing around with sex hormone balances. The only way I’d consider actual medication would be after long thought and debate, even if an endocrinologist suggested it. It needs very careful monitoring. I’d have to really trust my doctor.

I know this is unlikely to make a difference to many people but I’d urge you to consider oestrogen dominance if your moods are see-sawing uncontrollably. Menopause is often the diagnosis we’re handed if we’re a woman of a certain age but I had NONE of those symptoms.

After my next spit test I intend to do a proper hormone panel and assess where things are at. In the meantime I thought I’d share that this worked for me. Also - I did this BEFORE I changed anything to do with thyroid/adrenals etc. I think it’s interesting it had such a profound effect. In many ways if it hadn’t I’m not sure I could have made it through the past 2 months as I’ve changed how I treat my thyroid/adrenals/gut. Clearly everything needs to balance out…and in the absence of happy adrenals my sex hormones are going to be challenged at best.

On that note – I’m going to do gut next. I have test results here and insights that made me change the way I manage my diet and the supplements I take…

In the meantime go well and as always – I’m happy to take questions…

14 Replies

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  • skyfall, did you ever read Dr. John Lee's " Natural Progesterone- The Multiple Roles of A Remarkable Hormone" which is the book he wrote for medical people. Are you familiar with Dr. Ellen Grant? PR

  • Hello there I've dipped into both of these but they deserve more attention from me...very useful suggestion - Easter holiday reading!

  • When you say 'spit test' do you mean a salivary adrenal stress test with at least 4 samples? PR

  • Yes - think I wrote it out in full in an earlier blog but will make sure I make that clear in future. Thanks...

  • I can relate to some of that. I have always had heavy painful periods. When I was 14 I was prescribed a low dose of progesterone and that made such a huge difference. When I was about 18 I went on the combined pill instead which seemed to help control things too. After my first pregnancy everything seemed to settle down and I didn't feel the need for any help in the female hormone department, however after my daughter was born everything went back to how it was previously. I went back on the pill to see if it helped but I just couldn't find one that suited me any more.

    Eventually my blood pressure started rising and, given family history, it was decided a progesterone only pill would be better. It was. Within a few weeks I was feeling so much more normal and have been ever since.

    I am very interested in the supplements you suggest, although I have been told I shouldn't take evening primrose oil because I have epilepsy. I would much rather do this the natural way if possible. This oestrogen dominance situation leads me to wonder how long my adrenals have been out of whack and how bad they really are. I will have to save some pennies to get the tests done as I doubt my GP will oblige. It will be worth doing them though :)

    Thanks for posting :)

    Carolyn x

  • Carolyn - the G

    enova spit test is a good adrenal test. You need a practitioner. I can put you in touch with one if you like.

  • Why do you need a practitioner?

    thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/testin...

  • Sorry, Rod. I didn't see that you had already replied :)

  • You don't need a practitioner for Genova. They are happy for Thyroid UK to be quoted as a practitioner. This is an arrangement I am quite happy with so I may take your advice and get their adrenal test. It would be worth knowing for sure, especially as I am getting dips in blood pressure and salt cravings again.

    C x

  • Sorry - you can't order the Genova saliva adrenal stress test directly as a patient plus it's a good thing to get a Practitioner to have a look at the results. Just a suggestion though.

  • I'm sorry, but you are wrong. If you read through the information on our website, link provided by Helvella, you will see that people can give Thyroid UK as their Practitioner. They can then not only have the tests done, they will also get a copy of their results which they can then take to whatever healthcare professional they wish.

    We, of course, would not dispute the wisdom of having a knowledgeable person look over the results.

    However, in some cases, simply posting them on this site has proven quite helpful for people.

    Louise

    For the sake of clarity and transparency - Thyroid UK receives a small contribution to our funds for every test ordered via Genova Diagnostics and Blue Horizon Medicals. This is clearly stated on both companies' information.

  • Yes I ordered this directly from Genova and put TUK as the practionner. I received the report and posted the results on here and got some vey useful and helpful feedback :)

  • We've been ordering tests from Genova through TUK for years. Never any problems and always very prompt. Jane x

  • Hi skyfall - this is a very interesting blog, thank you.

    I have always had horrendously painful and heavy periods from the moment they started up until I went hyper when they became 'normal' and then again since I had my thyroidectomy. Over the years I've tried all sorts of things that haven't helped.

    I bought some natural progesterone cream but decided I really can't play around with my hormones knowing what a sensitive balance is needed.

    A few months back I got some info from a reflexologist with things that could help, some of which I have already tried with no change such as evening primrose oil, but some things that I think have made a difference are:

    * Omega-3 fats from fish oil – apparently diets low in Omega-3 have been associated with menstrual pain. I have never eaten fish but I decided I could do it in capsule form if it helps and I swear it started to help within a couple of cycles.

    * Magnesium - the uterus, being muscle tissue, responds well to magnesium, which helps it to relax. I have been using Epsom bath salts too. Again I really think this helps.

    * B Complex – have been shown to exhibit an anti-inflammatory and painkilling action.

    Vitex agnus castus one thing on the list that I haven’t tried – from the info I have it helps as it acts on the pituitary gland to regulate the production of ovarian hormones (oestrogen and progesterone). This, in turn, helps to normalise the menstrual cycle, preventing many of the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, including period pain.

    The main reason I haven’t tried it yet is because apparently it can make things worse before making them better and I haven’t found a time where I can put myself through that! It looks like that didn’t happen for you though, which makes me think I should give it a go.

    I thought I had a question when I started writing but now I’ve written so much I’ve forgotten what I was going to ask!

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