Hormone Health & Your Monthly Cycle

Troubles with energy levels, craving foods or feeling irritable? Could hormones be playing a bigger role than you may think?

 

Many women are aware that food choices, sleep quality and physical activity levels help with how we feel each day in terms of energy levels but also our mood. Hormone health, or an imbalance of female sex hormones also has a role to play in our general well-being as women. Before we address an imbalance, we first need to understand what a normal cycle looks like.

 

The monthly cycle

 For women, fertility means ovulation and a regular cycle and while many of us may wish our periods away each month it really is a wonderful thing that this monthly visit occurs. Why? There is no period without ovulation (in most cases) and there is no period without a harmonising dance between 2 dominant female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.

 

It’s these 2 hormones that make fertility so much more than conceiving, as these hormones have additional health benefits such as:

  • Oestrogen: Increases appetite, metabolic rate, libido and is protective against degenerative bone disease (osteoporosis)
  • Progesterone: Reduces anxiety and stress and is involved in the production of other hormones by the adrenal glands

If oestrogen makes you confident, increases your libido and energy levels and then progesterone provides calming mood benefits can you see how the presence of these hormones is essential for a women’s wellbeing?

 

Not having a normal cycle?

  Amenorrhea (absence of periods), painful or irregular periods can all be signs that perhaps those hormones aren’t dancing as they should, and diet and lifestyle factors absolutely have a role to play in our period health. There is also strong evidence to suggest that certain hormonal contraception choices increase feelings of depression and anxiety in some women and if you feel that this could be true for you then speaking with your GP about contraception options is a great idea.

 

What can I do to help promote a normal monthly cycle and improve my hormone health?  

  • Stress management: Increased release of stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol tell our brain that it is not safe to reproduce this month and your hypothalamus will prevent ovulation and therefore reduce oestrogen levels. Day-to-day management of stress is important and considering what daily practices you can introduce (gentle movement such as walking or yoga, deep belly or diaphragmatic breathing or even herbal tea and reading in the evening).
  • Magnesium rich foods or supplementation: Magnesium is a key nutrient in the synthesis of steroid hormones including sex hormones. Foods rich in magnesium include dark leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds and even dark chocolate. In some cases, supplementation can be helpful but should be individualised.
  • Reduce caffeine: caffeine promotes the release of stress hormones making your heart beat faster, your eyes widen and down regulating ovulation. Aim to stick to no more than 200mg of caffeine per day which is the equivalent of 1 espresso coffee, and certainly none after midday. Is coffee more about the break from your desk or feeling like you have treated yourself? Try a ten minute walk in the fresh air rather than coffee number 2 in your work day and see if you notice the difference.

If you want to know more about how food choices, sleep quality and stress management improve period health then we would love to hear from you.

Date

04.04.2019

Published By

Sara Widdowson

Category

Articles

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