A Delicate Balance: The Dance of Your Hormones
There is certainly no question in my mind that hormonal imbalances in the body are a major contributor to the majority of modern health concerns – including and certainly not limited to all of the reproductive conditions: trouble conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy, menstrual irregularities and PMS symptoms, menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, changes in libido, erectile dysfunction, PCOS, uterine fibroids, endometriosis… I could go on all day.
The truth is, there are more than 100 hormones circulating in your body. Reproductive hormones, metabolic hormones, stress hormones, and sex hormones are constantly sending messages from the brain to the body, the body to the brain, and between all of the organs and tissues like little messengers-that-could. It is the equilibrium, or balance, of all these hormones in relation to each other that allows our bodies to perform optimally. And, unfortunately for those trying to conceive, the human body has priorities. From way back in our ‘survival-mode’ days, evolutionarily speaking, our bodies have been conditioned to prioritize those systems and pathways that are associated with our ability to keep living albeit at the expense of our more delicate reproductive pathways. A body under stress will favor the systems that help us cope with the stressor – blood and nutrients are shunted away from digestive and reproductive organs and toward the brain for focus and clarity, the large muscles for escape from danger, and the vital organs like the heart and lungs.
It's a vast and complicated system - how these hormones interact with one another and with the organs and tissues. And we (collectively) have only a very small amount of knowledge on the subject. But it's an amazing topic to study, is one of the keys to taking control of reproductive issues, and is certainly one of my passions.
Not until we rebalance these delicate hormonal systems can we allow the body to focus on the reproductive pathways in order to achieve and sustain a healthy pregnancy, or quit sending us monthly PMS messages that something’s not right, or waking us up at 3am with a hot flash just to remind us it’s not happy with the hormone situation. The most interesting thing is - we don't always work on the reproductive hormones in order to balance the reproductive system! Sometimes it's the thyroid that is tipping everything out, sometimes it's the adrenals, sometimes it's something less tangible. It takes a thorough history, physical exam, and often some lab work to determine the true cause of the imbalance - but once we rebalance the true cause, like dominoes the rest of the hormonal systems fall into place.
The diagram attached to this post was taken from Dr. Robert Greene’s book Perfect Hormone Balance For Fertility. It’s a great representation of this delicate balance, and also a reminder that the processes of fertility and reproduction ("relate and mate") cannot be balanced unless all the other hormonal systems are balanced first.
Hormonal imbalance is the reason stress is a major factor in fertility. And why sleep is critical. It’s the reason your thyroid is crucially important, as are your digestive and eliminative pathways. It’s also the reason that when you visit us at Acubalance, your health picture is considered from head to toe – yes, we’ll ask you about your sleep and your bowel movements. And why we’ll want to do more extensive blood work and in-office testing than your typical health care provider. We want to know what your missing link is – because when we restore the ultimate cause of the imbalance, your amazing body will reset your hormones into perfect balance.
Wishing you a happy and balanced weekend.
Dr. Kali MacIsaac ND