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3 Completely Unknown Side Effects of Birth Control Pills

 

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Hello, how’s it going? I’m Kendra Perry from Kendra Kendra Perry Nutrition, and I’m coming to you from my very cold house.

 

It’s getting into October now and I didn’t feel like making a fire because I was lazy so I’ve got my toque on I got my … jacket on and I even got my booties on, those are my favorite little booties, but anyways, today we’re going to be talking about a very very important topic and also maybe a bit of a controversial topic because I know a lot of you ladies out there take the birth control pill and you’re getting a lot of benefits from it

 

You know you don’t have to think much and you’re not getting pregnant you don’t have to worry about that which is awesome.

 

But of course that does come with some side effects,  and that’s what we’re going to be talking about today; three unknown very very commonly unknown side effects that are very long-term and these side effects can affect you even if you were on the birth control years ago and you’ve been off it for years, so maybe it’s something you took in your 20s and it’s been five or ten years since you’ve been off of it.

 

Unfortunately, some of these side effects can still be affecting you and I’m going to get into that a little bit today. So if this is your first time joining in for one of my videos. Welcome, I’m Kendra Perry from Kendra Perry Nutrition like I mentioned before and I’m a functional diagnostic nutritionist and what I do is I help women generally in their 30s and 40s.

 

I help them balance their hormones so they can stop feeling fatigued, crazy overweight and super unsexy and they can start feeling awesome, so that’s what I do and if you haven’t already I have an awesome freebie right now if you are wondering what’s up with your hormones? If maybe you suspect your hormones have to do some of the symptoms that you’re experiencing lately,

 

I have a free self-test it’s pinned to the top of this page and you can use that to get a good idea if you might be at risk for a specific hormone imbalance and which imbalance that might be, okay.

 

So let’s get into it, but before we get started, I just want to ask you guys a question and please answer even if you’re just watching this video if even if you’re just watching the replay of this video.

 

I know there’s a bunch of you guys with me live today but even if you’re watching the replay I come back and look at these comments for weeks, so please answer so I just want to know and this is a bit of a personal question but sometimes

 

I like to get personal, let me know if you are currently taking the birth control pill and if so, what’s the reason that you are taking it is it to avoid pregnancy, or is it some other reason?

 

Maybe you’re taking it to regulate a hormone imbalance that your doctor said you have or maybe it’s to regulate a very irregular cycle?

 

Just let me know drop it in the comments box below, and that would be great, okay? So let’s first kind of talk about the birth control what’s actually kind of happening in the body so of course this like starts with what the female cycle is really supposed to look like okay, so in a woman who’s not taking any hormone, so no birth control typically what happens is estrogen is very dominant in the first half of the cycle so days 1 to 14.

 

Estrogen is what’s considered, it’s a growth hormone so it makes things grow and what it does is it grows the lining of the uterus it starts to grow that lining and basically, that’s your body preparing for pregnancy because if you were to say get pregnant or if there was a sperm and it connected with that egg in your body which is terrifying, but anyway is that they connect that egg will go into your uterus and implant on the wall, and that’s where it’ll start to grow and eventually turn into a baby.

 

So that’s what happens in day 1 to 14 is estrogen is pumping and then at some point around ovulation so that usually happens around day 14 middle of the cycle an egg is released from the ovaries and that ovary or that that egg basically is looking for a sperm to fertilize it and if it doesn’t get fertilized it actually starts to break down and degrade because we don’t need it anymore so your body gets rid of it.

 

And as that egg breaks down and degrades it actually releases a significant amount of progesterone, and that’s why progesterone is very important in the second half of the menstrual cycle, so estrogen goes down progesterone goes up as that a starts to degrade and then when it comes up to your period that’s actually when hormones drop super low so they’re at their lowest and that’s actually what triggers the menstrual cycle is a drop in both estrogen and progesterone, okay.

 

So what happens when you were on the pill? So basically the pill kind of hijacks your hormone control, so it dumps a bunch of synthetic estrogen and progesterone into the body in really high amounts which actually mimics pregnancy so when you’re pregnant your hormones are just pumping right, these things help maintain the pregnancy and keep a fetus healthy so the hormones are just kind of going off the radar they’re super high and that’s what hormonal birth control does is it lets these hormones become super high with synthetic hormones.

 

And it actually tricks the body into thinking that you’re pregnant so that’s why if you end up with another sperm inside your body because you’re still having sex there’s not going to be any eggs released because the body thinks you’re already pregnant.

 

So that’s what happens when you take that pill every single day and the same is true for IUD’s and also the patch or the ring I know there’s a lot of different types of birth control methods out there right now, but basically, they are pumping hormones and hijacking control of your hormones.

 

And then what happens when you get the period so that’s when you start taking those sugar pills, right? So what happens is you’re not actually getting a real period you’re actually getting what’s called sort of breakthrough bleeding. So you’re stopping those pills and that basically causes your hormones to drop and suddenly the body can’t maintain that lining anymore, so it starts to shed it so you’re kind of getting I guess what’s more like an artificial period you’re not actually getting a real period okay.

 

And this is a big reason why a lot of women take birth control pills even if it has nothing to do with preventing pregnancy so I know a lot of women take them because you know they have a very heavy period or maybe they have a very irregular cycle, maybe they have severe period cramps those are a lot of reasons people or women take birth control pills that really has nothing to do with actually not being, not getting pregnant, okay.

 

And the reason and so you know being on the pill is going to alleviate a lot of those symptoms because it does hijack hormone control and regulate things but it doesn’t actually fix the root cause so what a lot of women find is they feel really good on the pill.

 

But at some point they’re gonna want to go off it maybe because they want to get pregnant or they’ve just been on it. Too long and those hormone issues will come back and often with a vengeance because it’s basically just masking hormonal issues, so I think you know and that that I find quite unnerving.

 

You know I was like you I was on birth control for a really long time I think from the time I was 16 she about 23, so I guess what’s that 7 years? Maybe even longer than that and you know I got a ton of hormonal issues when I got off the pill and you know it’s because it sort of masks these hormonal issues, and they continue to persist in your body but unknown to you because you feel great while you’re on the pill, okay.

 

Anyways, I’m getting a bit off-track here But I want to get into those 3 reasons why? Or those 3 long-term side effects of birth control pills and again use can affect you even if you’ve been off the birth control pill for many years, even 10 or 15 years, and I’m gonna give you one bonus piece of info at the end.

 

So if you stay till the end, I’m gonna give you one complete and total shocker, it’s gonna blow your fucking head off! Seriously. It’s crazy when I learned about this I was completely shocked. Ok, so number one is it disrupts your gut flora, so the pill you know it doesn’t only have synthetic hormones in there, but it also has a lot of other synthetic additives and you take the pill in your mouth orally, and it actually kills your gut flora ok

 

And if you are someone who knows about gut health and knows the importance of the microbiome we know, this is a big problem so the microbiome is basically a bacterial community that you have living in your gut andwe have billions and billions and billions of these species in our gut and they play a huge role in our digestion our mood and pretty much a lot of our internal gut physiology and beyond. So it’s very very important to have healthy gut flora but you are taking a pill every single day that is killing the gut flora okay?

 

And this is probably one of the big reasons that women who are on birth control pills are significantly more likely to have issues with Candida.

 

Okay, so Candida is a yeast that naturally lives in the large intestine, and it’s always naturally there but when the gut floor is healthy it’s largely kept in check and it kind of just exists in those dark dark like deep corners of the large intestine but when that gut flora gets imbalance then the Candida can over grow and it can thrive and that can cause a lot of issues.

 

You know a lot of people are pretty familiar with the issues associated with Candida, but you know weight gain, fatigue, sugar cravings can be a really big one. It can cause a lot of issues because it causes a lot of inflammation it secretes a lot of toxins and it really does reduce your ability to digest and absorb nutrients.

 

So that’s a really big one so the way that it damages your gut flora and when your gut flora is not a good place so you just don’t have those healthy communities it puts you at risk for not only candida but also a lot of other gut infections so things like parasites and also other nasty bacteria because we are exposed to these things all the time, you know we don’t have to go to a third world country to get exposed to something like a parasite.

 

But when your gut flora is healthy it’s not a big deal because your immune system kind of deals with it it gets out you know overcrowded by the other healthy communities around it, so these things can tend to just get flushed out or at least kept …

 

There we go, sorry my timer, I need to put the turkey in the oven it’s Thanksgiving here in Canada. And I had to set myself a timer so i got to get that turkey and we’re having a big big dinner probably tonight and my boyfriend will kill me if I forget anyways, okay, so talking about yeah, so you just put risk for a lot of infections when your gut flora is disrupted and once your gut flora is disrupted you know a lot of things can happen and it can really set the stage for you know long-term chronic health problems specifically mood and digestive problems.

So a lot of women you know they were on birth control pills in their 20s and they find in their 30s; they have a ton of GI symptoms, and they don’t really know what’s going on and a big part of that is the fact that they’ve spent many years depleting their incredibly important and sensitive gut flora.

 

So that’s the first way that birth control can really harm you for the long term.

 

Number two is relatively unknown, but this one is insane. Okay, so I see so I’m going to tell you about copper toxicity so birth controls really push up copper in your body, okay, and copper toxicity is something that I see in almost every woman is crazy and so when I work with women

 

I always want a hair mineral analysis. I’m really big into remineralizing the body right now. And so when I do this I tend to see in the results that their copper is completely imbalanced. It’s through the roof and copper toxicity can cause a significant amount of issues.

 

I’m just going to read you off some of the symptoms here because you might be able to relate to this but hypothyroid, mind racing, mood swing, diet, dry skin, depression, feeling of loss of control, chocolate cravings, constipation, adverse reaction to vitamin and minerals b12 deficiency, iron deficiency,haemorrhoids, osteoporosis, fatigue, anemia, decrease in white blood cells, problems of concentration, memory, acne, paranoia, arthritis it goes on and on and on and these are all issues of copper imbalance.

 

And it is crazy how much birth control pills can dis regulate your copper, and there are people out there so one of the experts that trained under for hair mineral analysis his name’s Rick Mulder it’s his opinion, and I mean he’s been doing this for 30 to 40 years, he’s tested tens of thousands of people and it’s his opinion that copper imbalance is the main cause of the majority of the health problems that we experienced because copper really needs to be tightly controlled in the body.

 

You don’t want too much, but you don’t want too little you have too much or too little you’re going to have health problems and so it’s really interesting, so sometimes so what happened so sorry I’m getting a little off track here, but I really want to tell you about this, it’s really interesting, so the birth control pill can put a lot of stress on the adrenals on the thyroid and when the adrenals and the thyroid are sluggish this actually reduces your body’s ability to make something called ceruloplasmin and ceruloplasmin is basically a compound in the body that allows you to use copper so you get into the situation where you know your thyroid and adrenal are sluggish from you know maybe they’ve always been a bit sluggish and now the birth control is making them more sluggish.

 

So and then on top of this the birth control pill is also pushing up copper so you end up in a situation where you’re totally copper toxic!

 

Because the birth control is pushing up copper but you’re also copper deficient because you have now a limited ability to produce ceruloplasmin and which means you have a limited ability to use copper and this is actually the most common situation i’ve seen and women who’ve been on birth control even if it was like 15 years ago is they have this severe copper imbalance where they’re totally copper toxic the body is storing copper in the tissues in the organs especially the liver and the kidneys and then because they can’t use it they’re completely copper deficient, so they have symptoms of both.

 

And it takes years to detox copper from the body it can take a really long time so I’ve seen this in women who have only been on birth control for a year and now we’re doing this test ten years later, but it’s gonna be even more crazy in women who’ve been on birth control pills for multiple years because it pushes up your copper and then another really interesting thing about copper is copper pushes up estrogen levels so when your copper is high your estrogen will be high, so taking birth control pills pushes up copper which can then push up your estrogen which leads to estrogen dominance.

 

And I’ve talked a lot about estrogen dominance I’ve written about a lot of it on my website Kendraperry.net but this is one of the nastiest hormone imbalances that you can have and it’s also one of the most common I see in women over 30 and even some women over 25 between like 25 and 30.

 

And so when your estrogen dominant it really does predispose you for estrogen dominant cancers things like cervical cancer, endometrial cancer, breast cancer, it also gives you crazy PMS, tender breast, bloating, acne, irritability, insomnia around your period, it just kind of makes you miserable.

 

And it’s just really crazy how much birth control pill can really lead to a long-term copper issue and thus estrogen dominant issue and sometimes this estrogen dominance won’t show up on a test and I’ve seen this again where we won’t see it in the test, but because it’s the copper that’s pushing up estrogen during certain times of the month we actually will never find the estrogen so we just have to go with the copper toxicity and assume estrogen dominance.

 

And I think another way that birth control can really affect your copper level is the fact that actually depletes a zinc so zinc is a very important mineral for the immune system, so when zinc goes down you start to have more issues with infections you get sick all the time and of course that does put you a bigger risk for things like parasites and candida as well.

 

But zinc and copper are antagonists so as one goes up the other goes down. So as zinc goes down copper goes up. So not only is birth control pushing more copper into your system but it’s also depleting zinc which naturally will make your copper levels more high and unless you address copper toxicity directly and you start to detox copper from the body. These issues and these symptoms and that list that I mentioned can affect you for the rest of your life

 

It’s crazy, so that’s a really big one, okay. So number three is magnesium deficiency so birth control pills deplete magnesium. It’s well known it’s been shown in a ton of research and magnesium and you might know that it’s super important, so it’s involved in over 300 different enzyme reactions in the entire body, you need it to relax the entire nervous system you need sleep you need it to feel calm and not totally crazy and stressed out and birth control pills actually deplete magnesium and so this is a really big issue as well.

 

Another thing that happens is because magnesium is an antagonist with cut with calcium so as magnesium goes down calcium goes up and if calcium gets too high in your system your body does start to store it in different parts of the body and it can lead to a lot of joint pain, and it can actually really change your personality and lead to a lot of mood disorders as well, so magnesium is huge. We’re already deficient in it, and then if you’re taking birth control pills. You’re gonna be even more magnesium deficient okay, so that’s number three is in the way that magnesium causes or sorry birth control causes magnesium deficiency.

 

So I just want to quickly recap and then I’m gonna give you the bonus side effect the one that’s gonna just like blow your head off. It’s crazy! I can’t even believe this is a thing but anyways, So number one is birth control pills will deplete your gut flora so it does lead to long-term mood disorders and GI problems, does increase your likelihood for getting a parasite or candida.

 

Number two is that birth control will cause copper imbalance so it can make you deficient and toxic at the same time that leads to a ton of symptoms, very hard to get out of the body if your body can’t use it, it can’t move it out and then you are just copper toxic and dealing with so many health problems that you can’t connect to anything for the rest of your life.

 

And number three is magnesium deficiency, so it does push down your magnesium, okay. And now for the bonus so the bonus so I heard this from dr.

 

Sarah Gottfried so she is an MD who does a lot of work with hormones, but more for women who are postmenopausal, But she said in a podcast that I was listening to that birth control pills reduce the size of clitores by twenty to thirty percent.

 

They shrink your clit. That’s crazy. It’s crazy, and I was pretty skeptical about this, so I looked it up, and I did find a research study on PubMed that did indicate that the birth control pill can actually shrink your clitoris.

 

Which is shocking, it’s just shocking like that is horrible right? I mean the reason we have sex is for pleasure and enjoyment and being on the birth control pillcan actually shrink your clitoris, and you know I was on the birth control pill for probably seven or eight years

 

I wish I had measured. I have no idea if mine is smaller than it used to be but I think that’s pretty significant and these are side effects that nobody is talking about and your you will never hear this from your doctor when you go on the pill they will tell you that maybe you have a higher risk for blood clots, but that you have a lower risk for certain types of cancer, and you know nobody’s gonna tell you about deficient gut flora, no one’s going to tell you about copper imbalance and nobody’s gonna tell you about magnesium deficiency, and I know nobody is gonna tell you about clit shrinkage, okay, so you know you really need to take these things into consideration when making a decision to go on the pill.

 

You know I understand that there’s times in your life where you absolutely do not want to get pregnant and I get that but you know 60 to 70 percent of women go on the pill for reasons that have nothing to do with avoiding pregnancy and they are not told about these side-effects.

 

They have no idea and you know as someone who works with women’s health, I mean it is crazy how often I work with women who have come off the birth control pill, and they are a mess. You know, it’s just it’s crazy, and we’re just not being given the proper information.

 

You know if you want to make the decision to go on birth control knowing those side effects that’s good, because you’re making an informed decision but most of us aren’t even making informed decisions because we never get the information to begin with okay, so I hope you found this video helpful

 

I love bringing you these live videos. I love hanging out with you, so if you like this video give me the hearts give me the likes

 

I love these, it shows Facebook that you like my content and it will help me reach more women because my mission is to help as many women as possible heal from hormonal imbalance, so they can take control of their bodies again because when your hormones are out of whack you feel like you have no control, it changes your personality

 

You’re on edge and you know you’re fatigued you’re gaining weight and you just can’t live that incredible life that you absolutely deserve to live so give me a like and let me know if you’d like this video if you have any questions even if you’re not with me live today

 

I will answer them. I keep checking these comments for weeks and weeks and weeks and if you haven’t done so already pick up my freebie is pinned to the top of this page

 

It’s my hormone imbalance self-test cheat sheet, and you can learn in five minutes or less if you might have a hormone imbalance and which imbalance you might be at risk for one more thing join my group. I have a free Facebook group called hormonal Imbalance with Kendra Perry

 

I give free weekly master classes. I answer all your questions. There are a ton of women in there we’re growing every day, and if you want to connect and get some support this is a great place

 

I know when my hormones were a mess I felt super alone I felt that nobody cared or understood what I was going through but in this group everyone understands what you’re going through so make sure to join my group as well.

 

That’s it for me. I hope you guys, if you’re in Canada Happy Thanksgiving!

 

I hope you have a delicious turkey dinner, and if you’re elsewhere. I hope you just have a fantastic weekend

 

I will see you next week.

 

I’m going to be coming to you live four times next week Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday.

 

So I’m gonna be talking about lots of hot topics so I will see you guys all next week. Bye!

3 Mind Blowing (Yet Relatively Unknown) Reasons You Can’t Get Pregnant

If you are asking, “Why can’t I get pregnant?!” you are not alone. In a healthy, perfectly fertile woman, the chance of achieving a successful pregnancy is only about 25% – even if you have sex every day.

 

On top of that, infertility is on the rise. Currently, 6.1 million couples in the United States are struggling to get pregnant the natural way.

 

The infertility services market, from infertility clinics and sperm banks to fertility drugs and surrogacy programs, now tops $3.5 billion, up four-fold from 25 years ago, according to a recent study from research firm Marketdata.

 

Nearly $2 billion of that total comes from spending on in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which egg and sperm are fertilized in a laboratory to create an embryo that can be implanted in a woman’s uterus, hopefully resulting in a successful pregnancy.

 

Overall, growth in the infertility market is projected to continue at a 3.6% annual clip, hitting $4 billion by 2018.

 

Unfortunately, success rates of fertility treatments are not always significant. IVF only has a 40% success rate in women under 35 and costs thousands of dollars per round.

 

Fertility drugs can often cause a multiple pregnancy (like twins or triplets) or Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome leading to multiple symptoms and even dealth.

 

Infertility is not a random thing. It is your body telling you that something isn’t right. It’s your body saying, “Nope. Now is not the right time to get pregnant.”

 

Remember that everything in the female body revolves around a cycle which prepares you to get pregnant every single month. If you are struggling to get pregnant that there is some deeper imbalance standing in your way.

 

Your overall health plays a massive role in your fertility. Most know that eating a healthy, whole foods diet, getting regular exercise and reducing stress are crucial to maintaining health. These things are also important in achieving healthy pregnancy.

 

But there are certain imbalances involved in infertility that most doctors don’t know about and fail to address in their patients.

 

The key to reversing infertility is to improve your overall health and addressing hidden imbalances that are blocking your pregnancy efforts. Here are three unknown reasons that may be affecting your fertility and preventing you from achieving your baby dreams.

 

1. Hormone Imbalance

 

Did you know that the hormones surging through your body every minute of the day influence or even control many of the most important bodily processes—including the ability to get pregnant?

 

In almost every case of infertility I have seen (and I have seen hundreds of cases), there has always been an underlying or even hidden hormone imbalance that is preventing women from conceiving.

 

There are several hormones that play a direct role in your fertility. If these hormones are too high or too low or out of balance with each other, getting pregnant will be no easy task.

 

“As stressful and upsetting as it may be, it’s important to remember that 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age will experience difficulty conceiving. And, in many of these cases, hormonal imbalances are at least part of the problem,” remarks board-certified reproductive endocrinologist Rachana Garde, M.D., of SGF’s Woodbridge and Annandale, VA locations.

 

There are several hormones involved in not only your capacity to get pregnant but your ability to maintain a healthy pregnancy to term.

 

Some of the hormones that will most significantly impact your ability to become pregnant are:

 

  1. Thyroid – Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located on the front of your neck. Many know it as the regulator of your metabolism but it has many other important functions including energy production, bowel transit time AND your ability to conceive naturally. Having an underactive thyroid is a leading reason why some women are infertile. The thyroid is part of the endocrine (hormonal) system and is under control of the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland in the brain. The thyroid is contained in this feedback loop which also is connected to your sex, your stress hormones, and your ovaries. You can think of all of these glands — hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, ovaries, adrenals — as being a part of a spider’s web. When something happens at one part of the web, it’s felt through the entire web. Thus, imbalances anywhere in this system will influence the other glands and hormones, including your thyroid, in the system.

 

  1. Progesterone – Progesterone is essential to maintaining a healthy pregnancy to full term. If a woman has levels of progesterone that are too low, she will often have a very short luteal phase which is the length of time between ovulation and the beginning of the menstrual period. A short luteal phase means that fertilized eggs are not able to properly implant in the uterus, and miscarriage can easily occur.

 

  1. Estrogen – Estrogen is the hormone responsible for building the uterine lining in the first half of the menstrual cycle. Estrogen is the goldilocks hormones. You don’t want too little and you don’t want too much. You want it to be just right. Too little estrogen and the uterine lining may be too thin for an egg to properly implant after fertilization. Too much estrogen and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) may be suppressed. FSH controls the production of eggs in the ovaries and without it eggs will no be released properly.

 

  1. Testosterone – Elevated testosterone can lead to a condition called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in the Western World. In PCOS, cysts can build up on the ovaries and burst which may cause irreversible damage to the reproductive organs. Additionally, too many male hormones in your body can interfere with those precious female hormones that you need for ovulation. If ovulation doesn’t occur then there will be no egg for a sperm to fertilize.

 

This list just scratches the surface of the hormones in your body which affect fertility. Research has also shown that insulin excess (from eating too much sugar and refined carbohydrates) can interfere with pregnancy hormones as can excess cortisol or cortisol deficiency.

 

Standard blood tests are not an effective measure to assess hormones levels. Hormones that are in the blood are in transit and are bound up in protein carriers. They are not active or usable in the cell. For that reason, the most common outcome of blood testing is a false negative. Your hormones will look completely normal even though they are depleted or in excess on a deeper cellular level.

 

Saliva and urine testing is the best option for diagnostic testing of hormones. Unfortunately, these are expensive and not covered by insurance. The good news is that you can get an idea of your risk for a particular hormone imbalance based off of some of the symptoms you might be experiencing. 

 

Make sure to pick up my FREE Hormone Imbalance Self Test so that you can determine if you have an imbalance in 5 minutes or less. The key to finally getting pregnant and fulfilling your dreams of a happy, healthy family, always starts with re-balancing your hormone levels. 

 

 

2. Heavy Metal Toxicity

 

Heavy metals are natural components in the Earth’s crust. However, they are poisonous to the body even in small quantities.

 

They enter our food and water supply by industrial and consumer waste, or even from acidic rain breaking down soils and releasing heavy metals into streams, lakes, rivers, and groundwater.

 

Heavy metals are also added to medicines as well as thousands of different food products, household products, personal products and an unknown number of industrial products and chemicals. They are everywhere!

 

More and more heavy metals are being added to our environment every single year. Currently there are 84,000 chemicals in our world and only 1% have been tested for safety. Because of this, no person is spared exposure. Even those who live away from civilization, high in the mountains are still dealing with some level of toxicity.

 

It’s not a question of “do you have heavy metals?” it’s a question of “How many do you have and is your body able to detox them?”

 

Those of us who don’t detox well (due to mineral deficiencies, gut imbalances or chronic stress) or who those who don’t get enough nutrients and minerals in their diet are significantly more likely to hold onto heavy metals. 

 

What does this mean for fertility?

 

Heavy metals can easily accumulate in the body, get stored in various organs and tissues and then easily disrupt metabolic function. They also are strong antagonists to many minerals which cause minerals to be displaced and lost from the body.

 

Minerals are the spark plugs of the body and are critical for virtually every single chemical reaction in the body. Mineral deficiency can virtually cause any symptom, including fatigue, weight gain, insomnia and the inability to get pregnant. Additionally, certain metal toxicities like copper, lead, and mercury can directly impact fertility by interfering with the endocrine function and damaging sperm.

 

Toxic heavy metals cannot be degraded or destroyed and are dangerous because they tend to bioaccumulate. Bioaccumulation means an increase in the concentration of a chemical in the body over time, compared to the chemical’s concentration in the environment.

 

They are immediately absorbed and due to their highly toxic potential are quickly and deeply stored away in tissues such as the brain, liver, kidneys and bones to prevent immediate harm as they are not easily broken down, metabolized or excreted by the body.

 

The problem is that due to their inability to be easily metabolized and excreted they tend to accumulate further causing metabolic disruptions which can quickly lead to infertility, poor sperm production, and miscarriages.

 

Heavy metal testing and removing metals from the body is a complex task. It should ONLY be performed with the help of an experienced practitioner. If you are interested in detoxing your body (and your partners) prior to conceiving (which will not only increase your chances of conceiving easily but will also drastically improve the health of your child), please book a FREE 30 minute call with me to discuss my functional detox coaching program.

 

 

3. Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth

 

Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition where healthy and normal bacteria of the large intestine travel up the intestine into the small intestine where they don’t belong.

 

The large intestine is meant to contain a significant amount of organisms, about 100 billion organisms for every ml of fluid. The small intestine, conversely, is meant to be relatively sterile, only containing 100,000 organisms for every ml of fluid.

 

Intestinal nerve damage, abdominal adhesions from injury or ileocecal valve dysfunction (the valve that connects the large intestine to the small intestine) can result in the ability of bacteria from the large intestine to travel upwards into the small intestine where they don’t belong. 

 

Once in the small intestine, these bacteria end up consuming and fermenting all the food that you eat. This causes a buildup of methane and hydrogen gas levels which often leads to bloating, gas, burping, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea. It can also cause skin issues, fatigue, and brain fog.

 

The overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine means that you can no longer digest, absorb and assimilate much of the food you consume.

 

The elevated gas levels also cause inflammation and leaky gut. Leaky gut is a condition where the gut lining becomes increasingly permeable and toxins, pathogens, and metals can easily leak into the bloodstream and negatively affect all your cells, organs and tissues.

 

How does SIBO affect your fertility levels?

 

Mineral deficiency, as a result of bacterial malabsorption, is a main cause of the inability to get pregnant. Since minerals are needed to make hormones, mineral deficiency can block production and make it impossible to conceive. When SIBO is blocking your ability to use the food that you eat, mineral deficiency can easily develop.

 

SIBO has also been implicated in almost 80% of cases of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is a condition that results in chronic digestive issues. There is no treatment for IBS and sufferers are often left to deal with it on their own.

 

Several studies have shown that IBS greatly increases the change of miscarriage in the first trimester. For that reason, SIBO is a huge risk factor for early miscarriage. If you have dealt with several early miscarriages, SIBO might be your problem.

 

If you are dealing with chronic IBS or ongoing digestive issues (like gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation or belly pain), you should consider running a test for SIBO. To learn more about SIBO testing, please book a FREE 30 minute call with me.

 

Final Thoughts

 

Achieving great reproductive health isn’t an impossible goal. I have seen many women reverse their infertility in my clinical practice simply by adopting better diet and lifestyle practices and uncovering hidden fertility blocking factors, like toxic metals and infections, with the help of functional lab testing.

 

If you are interested in learning how functional lab testing can improve your fertility and help you achieve a healthy, sustainable pregnancy, please book a FREE call with me.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22373726

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/761575

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3949258/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5347643/

 

 

Testosterone Metabolism – Why You Have Symptoms of High Testosterone When Your Lab Tests Are Normal

 

The past few weeks on the blog, I have been writing about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a condition that causes weight gain, infertility, facial hair growth, acne and irregular menstrual cycles.

 

If you want to learn more about this condition and its risk factors, you can read the full article here. I also recently wrote about the PCOS diet, lifestyle and supplement protocol that can help you reverse this condition and boost your fertility. You can read that article here.

 

PCOS is generally characterized by elevated testosterone, irregular or absent cycles and cystic ovaries. But there are many women out there who have regular cycles and no ovarian cysts but are struggling with symptoms of high testosterone.

 

If you know your testosterone is elevated but you don’t have a PCOS diagnosis, you can still benefit from following the PCOS protocol. But what if your testosterone is “normal” and you are still struggling with the typical symptoms of testosterone dominance? These include;

 

  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Loss of scalp hair
  • Excessive facial & body hair growth
  • Acne
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Deepening voice

 

This is an interesting thing. It is possible to have normal or even lower testosterone but also have a testosterone dominance.
 

How is this possible?

 
Today I want to talk about testosterone metabolism. If your testosterone appears normal on a saliva or blood test but you still have these typical symptoms of too much testosterone than your metabolism may be to blame.

 

Let’s start at the top. Pregnenolone is your master hormone. It is the building block for all your other steroid sex hormones including progesterone, cortisol, estrogen, DHEA and testosterone.

 

pathways photo

 

Pregnenolone is derived primarily from cholesterol. Yep, remember cholesterol? The big bad cholesterol that clogs your arteries and gives you heart disease?

 

What the government and general public are finally starting to learn is that cholesterol is crucial, not only for hormone production but also for the health of your brain.

 

Without cholesterol you cannot make sex hormones. And without sex hormones you are in trouble. 75% of your body’s cholesterol is produced in your liver but 25% comes from your diet. Therefore, getting enough cholesterol in your diet is crucial to your hormones. Cholesterol comes from animal products.

 

Pregnenolone can be converted into progesterone which can then be broken down to produce cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone. Pregnenolone is also a precursor for Dehyroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA can then be broken down into either testosterone or estrone. Estrone can then be converted to estradiol (your body’s most potent estrogen) which can be converted to estriol.

 

But hormone metabolism doesn’t stop there. Both testosterone and estrogen are broken down further into metabolites. Today we will focus on the main metabolites of testosterone and what this means for you and your hormone health.

 

After testosterone is formed, it can be broken down via two different pathways; the alpha pathway and the beta pathway. The beta pathway, also called the Etiocholanolone metabolite, is a less androgenic pathway. This means that when you metabolize your testosterone down this pathway, it reduces the effects of testosterone.

 

In this case, you could have high blood or saliva testosterone but if you push primarily down the beta pathway than you may not exhibit any symptoms of high testosterone.

 

The alpha pathway, also know as the dehyrotestosterone (DHT) pathway, is a significantly more androgenic pathway. This means that if you tend to metabolize more of your testosterone down the DHT pathway then actions of testosterone become increasingly stronger in your system.

 

This is because DHT metabolites bind about 3 times more strongly to androgen receptors than Etiocholanolone metabolites. 5 alpha reductase is the enzyme that pushes the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Everyone will push some testosterone down the DHT pathway but some people push significantly more of their testosterone in this direction meaning that their testosterone becomes extra potent.

 

What this means for you is that you may have “normal” or even lower testosterone that becomes increasingly potent as it is being metabolized. This is why your testosterone may look normal but your symptoms tell you otherwise.
 

What Would Someone Prefer the DHT Pathway?

 
There is usually an insulin issue at play. Insulin, the hormone needed to regulate blood sugar and fat storage, enhances the actions of the DHT pathway. The more insulin you have, the more 5-alpha reductase you have (the enzyme that pushes DHT production). Women with acne, PCOS and obesity have significantly more 5-alpha reductase than women without these issues.

 

Managing your blood sugar and reducing excess insulin are key to reducing DHT activity. Again, you can learn more about insulin resistance and what to do about it in this article and this article.

 

Progesterone, on the other hand, reduces 5 alpha reductase activity, at least in vitro, according to this study. Often times when I see elevated DHT metabolites in a client, I also see depleted progesterone levels.

 

Being aware of the DHT pathway is especially important for those struggling with infertility (elevated testosterone is a huge cause of infertility in the Western world), acne and obesity.
 

Testing for DHT

 
If this article resonates with you and some of your recent experience, I recommend getting your testosterone metabolism evaluated. You can do this by getting a urine hormone panel. The best hormone panel that I currently run is the Precision Analytical Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH). This test will not only evaluate your testosterone metabolism but also the metabolism of your other steroid hormones including; progesterone, estrogen and cortisol.

 

If you are interested in getting a full hormone evaluation to get to the bottom of your ongoing infertility, painful acne breakouts, explainable scalp hair loss or your complete inability to lose weight, please schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation with me. You can do that here and choose the service labeled, “FREE Discovery Session.”
 

How to Decrease 5-alpha Reductase Activity

 
Blood Sugar Management. I feel like a broken record here but having healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day is not only important for your testosterone metabolism but is crucial for your health in every other way.

 

The Paleo Diet is a fantastic way to manage blood sugar. You should also consider buying a glucometer and actively checking your blood sugar throughout the day.

 

Before meals, your glucometer should ready 80-90 mg/dl. If it is lower than this, you waited to long to eat that meal or didn’t eat enough at your previous meal. Add more whole foods or include an extra snack.

 

The post-prandial measurement is a fantastic way to assess your carbohydrate sensitivity. If you are carb sensitive, the more carbs you eat, the more you increase your insulin and make it more likely have a testosterone metabolism issue. 2 hours after a meal, your blood sugar should be under 120 mg/dl (but ideally under 100 mg/dl). If you are above this, you ate way too many carbohydrates or sugar at that previous meal and you need to reduce accordingly.

 

EPA & DHA. These are fatty acids that come from Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. These come from cold water fatty fish and shellfish. I recommend supplementing with a high quality fish oil supplement derived from mackerel, sardines and/or anchovies. EPA and DHA have a positive effect on insulin and also reduce inflammation which can push up blood sugar levels.

 

Saw Palmetto. This herb can have potent effects on the DHT pathway. It effectively shifts metabolism from the alpha to beta pathway. Be wary that higher doses of saw palmetto can reduce DHT too much and throw of your testosterone levels. If you are using saw palmetto, you should be monitoring your levels regularly.

 

Exercise. Exercise is known to increase sensitivity to insulin. When your cells are insulin sensitive, you need less insulin. Less insulin has a positive effect on DHT.

 

Nettle. Stinging nettle tea increases Sex Hormone Binding Globulin in your blood. This can bind to excess testosterone and decrease the levels of testosterone that need to be metabolized, and thus reducing the effects of DHT.

 

Zinc. According to this study which was performed on human skin in vitro, zinc can have a reducing effect on 5-alpha reductase when used in combination with Vitamin B6. This is promising but there has been some conflicting research. Clinically, I see Zinc boost testosterone production and improve metabolism.
 

Final Thoughts

 
Looking at single hormone markers can be helpful but never gives you the full picture of what is happening. Just because your testosterone is “normal,” does not mean you are in the clear from the potent side effects of too much testosterone. If you are suffering from the symptoms elevated above but your doctor says your levels are “normal,” consider your metabolism. Click here to schedule a free meeting with me to see if comprehensive hormone testing is a fit for you.

 

Are you struggling with testosterone dominance or any of the symptoms mentioned above? Please feel free to comment with your experience below.

 

 

 

 

The PCOS Protocol – How to Reverse PCOS and Take Back Your Fertility

 

This week on the blog we are talking about PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Last week I discussed this condition in detail and how it is the leading cause of infertility in women in the Western world. If you want to get all the details about PCOS, you can read the article here.

 

According to statistics, PCOS effects up to 20% of women in childbearing years. Unfortunately, it is not completely clear what causes this condition and this is still up for heavy debate in the scientific community.

 

The medical industry has put its focus on treating the symptoms of this condition through medication, like the birth control pills and metformin, rather than addressing the root cause. This has led to the misconception that PCOS is an unpreventable and incurable disease. This simply is not true. If you have PCOS, do not feel hopeless and please do not give up all your dreams of having children. PCOS is not only treatable, it is preventable, and it may even be curable in many women.

 

What is PCOS?

 

To be diagnosed with PCOS, you must meet two of these three criteria;

• Irregular or absent periods
• Elevated androgenic hormones (DHEA, testosterone)
• Cystic ovaries

 

Having PCOS is not fun. Often times women have a hard time losing weight, acne breakouts, facial hair growth, oily skin and hair, infertility and issues with anger and irritability.
We still don’t know what the definitive cause of PCOS is but it tends to come hand in hand with insulin resistance.

 

Insulin (the blood sugar hormone) is released into our bodies in response to sugar in the bloodstream. Its purpose is to grab this sugar from the blood and get it into the cells so that it can be burned for energy or stored as fat. Now, when we’re eating healthy complex carbohydrates, these break down gradually keeping our insulin and sugar levels balanced with only slight increases after meals. But when we eat unhealthy refined, or simple sugars (think cake and cookies, white bread, white rice) these break down much more quickly causing a dramatic spike in our insulin levels.

 

That huge spike that occurs when we eat refined sugars causes sugar to get pulled from the blood too quickly. The result is a dramatic drop blood sugar levels which then causes intense sugar cravings to normalize blood sugar again. This is known as the blood sugar roller coaster and for many people they ride it all day long.

 

It goes a little bit like this: High sugar/carbohydrate breakfast. Flood of insulin to reduce blood sugar. Blood sugar goes to low. You experience dizziness, fatigue, “hangryness,” and intense sugar cravings. You reach for more sugar/carbohydrates (ie. pastry, donut, bread, etc.) Blood sugar spikes again and you start the cycle all over again.

 

How Can Insulin Be Harmful?

 

Eventually, if you continue with this vicious cycle, your body will develop insulin resistance. Extreme fluctuations of blood sugar is not normal. Previous to one hundred years ago, people did not have unlimited access to sugar and refined carbohydrates. This is not a normal situation. As insulin continues to knock on the doors of the cells and force sugar through the door, the cells stop hearing insulin. They become resistant. If the cells won’t let sugar into the blood, insulin then is forced to bring the sugar to the liver where it can be converted to fat.

 

This is bad because:

 

1. Most women who have insulin resistance also have high testosterone and DHEA. For some reason insulin resistance seems to drive the androgen pathway, leading to elevated androgen levels.

 

2. Excess insulin causes the liver to make less sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), the main protein that binds testosterone and keeps it from exerting its potent effects. This leads to extra free testosterone in the blood.

 

3. Insulin resistance increases the enzyme, aromatase. Aromatase causes the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. This can create estrogen dominance and lead to a whole host of nasty symptoms. Learn more about estrogen dominance here.

 

4. Insulin is a fat storage hormone which means you gain weight, typically around the abdomen.

 

5. Fat is found to act like an endocrine organ in itself. Excess fat can release excess testosterone, estrogen and cortisol. Too much of any of these hormones can block the pituitary from making enough Follicle Stimulating Hormone. This means FSH is not longer in balance with Lutenizing Hormone (LH). Too little FSH means that follicles in your ovaries cannot mature as usual. The dominant egg is never formed and instead the many immature follicles end up becoming cysts in your ovaries.

 

How to Reverse PCOS

 

So now that you have a pretty good idea what’s going on, you are probably wondering, “How the heck do I fix this?!” It is completely possible to fix this issue but it does mean taking a careful look at your diet and lifestyle. Good things don’t come easy but with a little bit of love and attention you can bring your body and your hormones back into balance. Here is where to start:

 

1. Eat a low sugar diet – when it comes to PCOS, the most important thing to get under control is your diet. The quickest way to fix insulin resistance is to start pulling sugar and refined carbohydrates out of the diet. This can be hard at first since it is the norm to eat a diet high in these things. Ditch the refined sugar but also be wary of high sugar health foods like dried fruit, tropical fruits, honey, maple syrup and agave.

 

Make sure to have a high protein breakfast with lots of healthy fat. Try to keep sugar and carbohydrates as low as possible. Great choices for breakfast are eggs, free range meat, avocado and non-starchy vegetables (ie. greens, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.).

 

If you are insulin resistant, you may be extra sensitive to sugar. You really need to remove it from your diet as much as possible. If you continue to struggle with sugar cravings despite reducing it in your diet, you can try this supplement or eat low sugar fruit like berries and apples. Coconut butter is also a delicious treat to help curb your cravings.

 

2. Eat FibreA high fibre diet may help pull excess testosterone out of the body. Cholesterol based hormones like estrogen and testosterone are secreted with the bile produced by the liver. Fibre can bind to hormone containing bile in the gut and be excreted in the stool. It isn’t known how much fibre can actually bind to fibre but there is likely some amount of binding which may reduce re-absorption of cholesterol-based hormones back into the blood. Too little fibre in the diet may lead to excess androgens circulating the blood and exerting their powerful effects.

 

Try to eat 35-50 grams of fibre a day in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables. The highest fibre foods include berries, apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, asparagus, squash, zucchini and broccoli.

 

3. Omega-3’sAccording to this study, Omega 3’s may help reduce serum testosterone levels in the blood without a significant effect on Sex Hormone Binding Globule and insulin levels. The best way to do this is to include wild salmon in your diet or take a high quality fish oil supplement.

 

When it comes to supplementing with fish oil, quality matters the most. Many brands are not processed well and the result in rancid oil hiding in a capsule. Want to know if your fish oil supplement is any good? Open one of your capsules and smell it. If it’s gone bad, you will know. I generally recommend sticking to fish oil supplements made with mackerel, sardines and anchovies. My current favorite is Thorne Research Fish Oil and Orthomolecular Orthomega.

 

4. Vitamin DA 2011 study concluded that most women with PCOS are deficient in Vitamin D. In another study, 67-85% of women struggling with infertility were also vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D, which is actually a hormone, is crucial for your immune system, bone development and muscle function. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with insulin resistance, obesity and inflammation, all drivers of PCOS. Make sure you get enough unfiltered natural sunlight every day if possible. The amount of time you should spend in the sun depends on your skin tone. Fair skinned persons may only need 15-20 minutes of unfiltered sun exposure daily, whereas dark skinned individuals may need as much as an hour or more.

 

If you have PCOS, it is a good idea to supplement with vitamin D. Make sure you purchase a Vitamin D3/K2 combo, without K2 you won’t absorb much vitamin D. The Vitamin D counsel recommends that you take a minimum of 1000 IU per 25 lbs of body weight. I personally take 10,000 IU’s a day because I was found to be significantly deficient in my last blood test.

 

5. Chromium – chromium is a mineral that promotes proper insulin utilization and helps with blood-glucose management. This is one of my favorite supplements for blood sugar control. Chromium can be found in a wide range of foods – Broccoli, sweet potatoes, grass-fed beef, raw onions, and eggs are all good sources. You can also supplement with 200mcg of chromium picolinate a day.

 

6. Exercise – This is important. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity. Make sure to get a little bit of exercise every single day. Be mindful of your activity levels. You want to be active but you also do not want to go overboard. Too much exercise can lead to excess cortisol levels. High cortisol leads to high blood sugar levels. Exercise should make you feel energized, not exhausted. If you feel exhausted after exercise, take it down a notch.

 

7. Acupuncture – I am a huge proponent of acupuncture for reproductive health. I know many women who have regulated their cycles and gotten pregnant after introducing acupuncture into their lives. Acupuncture is a powerful thing. Give it a try before taking any prescription drugs or surgery.

 

Final Thoughts

 

If you were to look at what the medical industry has to say about PCOS, you would think it was an unavoidable incurable genetically contracted disease. I do not believe this is anywhere near the truth.

 

Remember that families share a lot more than just genes. They share meals, habits, lifestyle and environment. They may also share their love of Chinese takeout, Netflix and inactivity. To say that genetics is the main cause of PCOS is to say that you have no role in your condition. This ignores all of the things you can start doing right now to get to the root cause of PCOS and reverse it.

 

When a woman hears that she has been diagnosed with an incurable disease that was handed down to her, her options for treatment immediately become limited. In a condition like PCOS, where a woman’s lifestyle and food choices are such a huge component, I urge all women to at least consider all their options before resorting to drugs or invasive medical procedures.

 

What helped you overcome PCOS? Please tell me about your experience below.

 

Do you want to hear me talk about this article in a video? Check it out below.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – Everything You Need to Know

 

What is PCOS? PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and to be diagnosed you must have at least two of the following criteria;

• Irregular or absent menstrual periods
• Elevated testosterone or other androgens
• Cystic ovaries

 

Up to 15% of women suffer from this condition. It is considered the leading cause of infertility in women in the Western world.

 

This condition is not very fun and I truly feel for every woman who is struggling with it. According to conventional medicine there is no cure for PCOS. Generally a physician will prescribe birth control pills to regulate sex hormone production. Birth control pills can also reduce free testosterone which can alleviate symptoms from increased androgen production.

 

If the woman is attempting to become pregnant, she may be referred to a fertility specialist.

 

Some women may undergo surgery to remove ovarian cysts. While this process may reduce testosterone levels and regulate ovulation, it may leave damaging scar tissue and many times the effects of the surgery only last a few months.

 

Unfortunately, none of these options addresses the root cause of the condition and the progression of the disease will continue if no interventions are made.

 

While testosterone and other male hormones are a huge driver of PCOS, estrogen and progesterone are important as well. They need to be in proper balance with testosterone in order to effectively regulate the menstrual cycle.
 

 

How Do You Know You Have PCOS?

 
Common symptoms associated with PCOS include;

• Infertility
• Irregular or Absent periods
• Scalp hair loss
• Acne
• Facial hair growth
• Inability to lose weight
• Oily skin and/or hair
• Irritability and/or anger

 

How PCOS Disrupts the Menstrual Cycle

 
In order to understand how this condition affects a woman’s cycle, it is important to understand how a normal, healthy cycle progresses throughout the month.

 

The first day of the menstrual cycle is the bleeding phase. During a woman’s period, estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest levels. During this time, the lining of the uterus is shed for the first 3-7 days of the first half of the menstrual cycle. The first half of the menstrual cycle, from Day 1-14, is called the Follicular Phase.

 

After bleeding stops, estrogen begins to rise. Estrogen, which is a growth hormone, begins to build and thicken the uterine lining. During this phase the Pituitary gland secretes the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) which causes the growth of between 3 and 30 follicles, each of which contains an egg.

 

Eventually FSH starts to decline and only one of the follicles continues to grow. The other follicles decay and breakdown.

 

When the Pituitary detects this shift, it secretes Lutenizing Hormone (LH), which causes the follicle to rupture and release the egg inside. This occurs at day 14 and is called Ovulation. During ovulation, testosterone surges and estrogen begins to drop.

 

If that egg is not fertilized after 24 hours then the egg turns into the corpus luteum and begins to break down. As it breaks down, it secretes progesterone, making it the dominant hormone of the second half of the menstrual cycle. This phase is called the luteal phase. As progesterone levels begin to fall, this triggers the shedding of the lining and the cycle starts over again.

 

The cycle generally lasts 28 days but can be up to 35 days in some women.

 

 

How Does PCOS Mess With This cycle?

 
It’s not completely clear how this occurs but there are a few ways depending on the woman in question.

 

1. Women with PCOS typically have low levels of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). SHBG is responsible for binding to hormones and making them inactive. This could result in increased levels of testosterone. Low levels of SHBG decrease the rate of conversion from testosterone to estrogen. Low levels of estrogen may result in poor signalling to the Pituitary gland leading to irregular cycles.

 

2. High levels of testosterone can also block the effects of progesterone and estrogen, disrupting the cycle.

 

3. If there is a Pituitary problem present, FSH and LH may not be secreted as they normally should. Typically, the ratio of FSH to LH is 1:2 but in women with PCOS it is 2:1.

 

The mechanism driving PCOS likely varies for each woman. What we do know is that insulin resistance plays a large role in PCOS. Whether the PCOS causes the insulin resistance or insulin resistance drives PCOS is unclear.

 

Insulin resistance plays a huge role in androgen metabolism, causing a women to prefer androgen production over estrogen production. Anytime I see elevated DHEA or testosterone in a woman on a hormone panel, I always focus on blood sugar control.

 

70% of women diagnosed with PCOS are also insulin resistant according to this study. PCOS needs to be taken seriously as it predisposes women for coronary artery disease later in life.

 

 

What is Insulin Resistance?

 
Insulin is a hormone made in the beta cells of the pancreas. Although it has many jobs, it is known for its ability to manage blood sugar levels. When you eat a meal, sugar levels rise in your blood. Insulin is then secreted to usher sugar into the cells where it can be used for energy.

 

Without insulin, you would die. Insulin is the only way for sugar in your blood to get into the cells where it can be used. Insulin becomes an issue when you continually eat foods that push the blood sugar too high. Refined sugar and processed carbohydrates require little breakdown and go straight into the blood, elevating blood sugar levels higher than what the body likes. The body overcompensates by pushing out extra insulin which can then drop blood sugar levels too low, causing you to crash and crave more sugar and carbs, starting the cycle over again.

 

If a person continues to consume sugar and carbs, the cells are constantly being bombarded by insulin knocking on the door trying to push sugar in. At some point, the cells stop listening to insulin knocking and become resistant. This means sugar levels rise in the blood and the cells don’t receive it for energy.

 

So that sugar levels don’t get dangerously high, sugar is then sent to the liver to be converted in triglycerides. That can lead to increased weight gain, especially around the abdomen.

 

A sign that you might have insulin resistance is getting sleepy after a meal. The conversion of sugar into triglycerides uses a lot of resources and the result is your energy levels crashing.

 

Any treatment plan for PCOS needs to involve careful attention to blood sugar levels and unwinding insulin resistance. How do you do this?

 

I plan to discuss solutions for PCOS in next week’s blog post. See you then!

Estrogen Dominance – The Hormonal Condition that Causes Weight Gain, Infertility, Insomnia & More

 

Do these Symptoms Sound Familiar to You?

– Weight gain (that won’t come off not matter what you eat)
– Fatigue
– Infertility (you have been trying for year with no luck)
– Varicose veins
– Mood swings before or during your period
– Swollen or painful breasts
– Variations or skipped cycles
– Vaginal dryness or itchiness (it just doesn’t make you feel very sexy)
– Excessive or scanty blood flow during periods
– Cyclic insomnia & hot flashes

 

What is Estrogen Dominance and What Causes it?

 

Estrogen is a potent hormone. For this reason it should be cleared from the blood immediately after it completes its job. This is one of your livers jobs. If you liver is sluggish or congested with excess toxins, estrogen is allowed to build up in the blood. Too much estrogen can be a nightmare for many women, causing all the symptoms listed above plus greatly increasing your susceptibility to breast cancers.

 

Excess Estrogen from a Sluggish Liver, which reduces estrogen clearence: In order to detoxify appropriately the liver needs all the necessary co-factors including an abundance of proteins and vitamins. Your liver may be struggling due to a lack of co-factors or because it simply has too many other toxins to remove from the body. If estrogen can’t be removed, it recirculates in the body causing dysfunction. This makes protein especially important for the liver. B-vitamins, selenium, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Vitamin A are also necessary for proper detoxification.

 

Environmental Estrogens. Unfortunately many estrogens come into the body from external sources. Personal care and beauty products are a huge culprit. As women, we rub numerous products on our bodies such as moisturizers, creams, body washes, make-up etc. Sometimes one of the quickest ways to lower your estrogen is to switch to a natural skincare regime. Estrogen can also come into the body from BPA plastic so make sure you drink you water out of stainless steel or glass.

 

Excess Phytoestrogen Consumption. Foods like soy, flax and sweet potatoes contain isoflavones which are considered phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen). While these may not be an issue in small amounts, some people overdo it. This is common in women eating a vegan/vegetarian diet. If you eat a plant-based diet, be careful not to eat these things in excess (especially soy products).

 

Low Progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone need to be in proper balance. While estrogen is a potent, feisty hormone, progesterone is the mellow, soothing hormone that balances estrogen out. Chronic stress and poor diet can deplete progesterone causing estrogen to be dominant over progesterone. Your estrogen may not necessarily be high but if it is too high compared to progesterone, then estrogen can take over. This balance is important. Progesterone needs cholesterol to be made effectively (yep, I said cholesterol) as well as Vitamin A and T3 (a thyroid hormone).

 

Chronic stress. The adrenal glands, which make a significant amount of your sex hormones, also make the stress hormone, Cortisol. If you are chronically stressed (this is not only mental/emotional stress but also hidden internal stress) then your body makes Cortisol at the expense of your sex hormone. Progesterone is commonly depleted this way.

 

Birth Control Pills. The addition of synthetic estrogen to your body will boost estrogen. This is a common reason why women gain weight when starting on the pill.

 

Aging. Estrogen levels generally decline with age, especially during menopause.

 

How to Tell if You Have Estrogen Dominance?

 

I always recommend testing to confirm this. In my experience, testing hundreds of women, something I have learned is that generally what you think is going on with your hormones, isn’t. Even if you have many of the symptoms listed above, this does not guarantee that you have estrogen dominance.We are all unique and not everyone follows the typical pattern.

 

Never confirm estrogen dominance with a blood test. Blood can only tell you about total estrogen. You cannot differentiate from estrogen which is free and usable and that which is bound up in proteins (and not usable). The best way to check for estrogen dominance is a saliva or urine hormone panel. My favorite test for looking at sex hormones at the moment is the Precision Analytical Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones.

 

Luckily if you suspect you may have estrogen dominance but can’t afford testing, there is still a lot you can do to improve your situation.

 

How To Reverse Estrogen Dominance

 

Nurture Your Metabolism

 

Stop the low-fat dieting and calorie counting. One of the crucial building blocks for hormones is dietary fat. If you eat a low fat diet than you are doing yourself a huge disservice. Often times introducing healthy fat back into the diet is enough to jump start a missing menstrual cycle and boost progesterone production.

 

Making sure you are eating enough is also necessary for healthy hormone production. Starvation can act as a huge stress on the body, causing your body to pump out cortisol instead of creating those sweet sex hormones. You can determine if you are eating enough food by taking your waking body temperature. Take your temperature under your arm and ideally you should fall between 97.8-98.2 F. If you are less than that, eat more food!

 

Keep in mind that a consistently low body temperature can also indicate low thyroid. To rule this out, have you doctor do a comprehensive thyroid panel that includes T3, T4, TSH, rT3, TPO antibodies and TBG.

 

Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable

 

Low blood sugar can also act as a stressor and deplete your hormones. You can keep your blood sugar stable by eating meals high in protein and healthy fat. Don’t overdo it on the carbohydrates. If you feel “hangry,” irritable, dizzy or shaky in between meals than you will need u your snacks or eat more frequently.

 

Love Your Liver

 

Make sure you are eating enough protein. Ideally you should be eating 0.4-0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, go for 0.4 grams and if you are a high performing athlete, go for the 0.7 grams. Note that 100 grams of chicken does not contain 100 grams of protein. Read labels to determine this.

 

Make sure to include eggs, dairy (if tolerated), fish, gelatin and shellfish to balance muscle meats (chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, etc). Eating the whole animal is important. Don’t shy away from fat, skin and bone broth (my favorite!).

 

Reduce your exposure to chemical skincare/beauty products and household cleaning products. Check out the toxicity of your favorite products here.

 

Emphasize liver friendly foods like turmeric, dandelion, lemon, asparagus, grapefruit, watercress and radicchio.

 

If you are going to take a liver support supplement, make sure to take one that supports both Phase 1 & Phase 2. Many liver support products only include components that support phase 1 liver detox. Make sure you also see Phase 2 supports like sulfur, cysteine, methionine and milk thistle.

 

Reduce Stress

 

Stress can be caused by mental/emotional distress, lack of sleep, over exercise, poor diet or burning the candle at both ends. Take a good look at your life and see what you can improve. Sometimes small changes make the biggest difference.

 

Do things that you love. While meditation and deep breathing are fantastic, I believe one of the greatest ways to reduce stress is to have fun and laugh. So many of us don’t take enough time for ourselves. So stop being so serious. Get out there and have as much fun as you can. Do it now!

 

Do you struggle with estrogen dominance? Please share in the comments!