If you’ve never had hormonal issues then you are one of the lucky ones. But if you have, then you’re one of many and you know they are pretty complex. The most talked about hormones that men and women produce are estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. That’s right ladies, testosterone isn’t just for the guys. In women, the ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone which rise and fall with ovulation. Testosterone on the other hand, is produced in various parts of a woman’s body, including in the ovaries and adrenal glands. Stress, trauma, poor diet, lack of exercise, medications and the xenoestrogens in some plastics can alter our hormone balance. More often than not, when a woman has a hormone imbalance, she generally has too much estrogen and/or not enough progesterone, but one that isn’t talked about too often, that is still quite common, is when a woman has too much testosterone.
Some signs you have too much testosterone includes:
- excess hair on face and/or nipples
- menstrual irregularity or absent menstrual cycle
- cystic acne along the jaw line and/or neck
- increased sex drive
- PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- balding near the hairline at the forehead
There are various contributing factors to increased testosterone, including medications, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), blood sugar imbalance and/or diabetes, thyroid issues, and you guessed it – stress.
There are a few things you can do to get your hormones in check. First off, you can get a blood test and/or hormone test through your naturopath to determine if your hormones are out of whack. Once you have that confirmation, you can work on your hormones in a few ways.
1) Eat a whole food diet: Remove refined sugars and processed and unhealthy carbohydrates. Our hormones work in conjunction with blood sugar – high insulin levels (from high sugar intake) can contribute to the ovaries producing more testosterone. Focus more on organic fruit and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and either grass-fed proteins and/or unrefined plant-proteins.
2) Get your Omega-3’s: Omega-3’s have been known to help lower testosterone in women. Flaxseed provides a good amount of Omega-3’s, in addition to algae oil or fish oil. Plus, algae/fish oils are great for helping with menstrual cramps because they are a blood thinner.
3) Supplement: There are a few supplements you can add that have been known to lower testosterone. Chaste tree, I3C (inositol-3-carbinol), saw palmetto, dong quai, and spearmint have all been known to assist with female hormone balance and can provide anti-androgenic effects. These are ingredients you can look for in hormone supplements, like Life Choice Balanced Female. As always, consult a practitioner to make sure these supplements are right for you.
4) Lifestyle changes: Avoid stress (we know it’s easier said than done) or at least reduce it by practicing mindfulness, meditation, breathing techniques or yoga. Incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine (YouTube “30 minute HIIT workout” and you won’t be disappointed) and ensure you’re getting 8 hours of sleep a night.
To get your hormones in control when they are imbalance can be a lot of work, but once they are, it’s so worth it. Combining lifestyle changes, a healthy diet and supplementation where needed will certainly gear you in the right direction.