18 October 2021
Female Hormones Guide: PMS, Fertility and Menopause
Balancing Female Hormones Naturally From Teens To Post Menopause
Female hormones can cause a rollercoaster of emotions and symptoms for so many women – from the start of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in teen years, to fertility issues, to the hot sweats and mood imbalances associated with the peri-menopause.
PMS, fertility issues and menopausal symptoms can be signs of an imbalance in your sex hormones. Our hormones include our blood sugar, thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones.
They work together, a bit like the players in an orchestra, and they all have to play together in a symphony. If one of them is out of balance, it can have a knock on effect on the others resulting in disharmony. Dietary and lifestyle changes can be effective at helping to rebalance our hormones and alleviating some of the debilitating symptoms that many women suffer from.
What can you do to balance your female hormones naturally?
Fibre is essential for supporting detoxification pathways in the liver which help regulate hormone levels. Increase your intake of fibre through wholegrains:
- oats, brown rice and quinoa
- fruit and vegetables
- nuts, seeds and pulses
Balance Sugar Levels
Keep your blood sugar levels balanced by ensuring protein at each meal and avoid sugary foods such as cakes, biscuits and chocolate. High sugar intake can create spikes and subsequent dips in blood sugar levels which can then in turn contribute to female hormone imbalances.
If you get a sugar craving, snack on fruit, nuts and seeds or eat a small piece of good quality dark chocolate.
Phytoestrogens are substances that occur naturally in foods which can have a balancing effect on oestrogen. For example, research has shown that phytoestrogens appear to reduce the frequency of hot flushes in menopausal women (Chen et al. 2015). (Make sure any soya products you buy are made from the whole soya bean and are organic – avoid raw and genetically modified soya products and those made from soya protein isolates.)
Foods which contain phytoestrogens include:
- Tofu, tempeh, miso
- Lentils, beans, chickpeas
- Flaxseeds, brown rice, and oats
- Cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower)
Essential Fatty Acids
Increase your intake of essential fatty acids found in oily fish, nuts and seeds. Essential fats are needed to balance hormones.
Oily fish includes salmon, mackerel, sardines, fresh tuna, herrings and trout. Snack on walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds or add to salads or porridge.
Find something you love — running, dance, walking, weight training or HIIT workouts. Exercise is vital for hormone balance as it can help reduce stress levels and support blood sugar function. It also helps to keep your bowels moving so you can excrete old hormones more efficiently, and promotes good bone and cardiovascular health.
Take measures to reduce stress as chronic stress can exacerbate hormone imbalances. There is a wealth of free online resources available now from breathing techniques to yoga. Or consider some form of therapy or counselling to help you deal with underlying emotional issues.
Insufficient sleep can adversely impact PMS and menopausal symptoms. Practice good sleep hygiene such as no screens at least an hour before bed, creating some time to unwind before bed such as a warm bath and a good book, practice breathing techniques or gentle yoga, and avoiding caffeine after lunch.
The DUTCH test is a urine hormone profile that measures hormones and hormone metabolites in a dried urine sample (carried out at home). It provides a very useful overall picture of what might be going on with your hormones which can be taken into account when creating your tailored health plan.
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