What are your hormones trying to tell you? Use our quiz to find out how to tap into them and enrich your life
Hands up if at some point in the last month, you’ve blamed your hormones for something. Have you been a bit moody and held PMS responsible? Or have you had a craving for chocolate, and put it down to being on your period? So many of us are used to, and have accepted, the idea that our hormones control us. However, this can stop us from getting support for genuine health issues. So, what exactly are hormones and why should we stop blaming them? In a nutshell, they’re chemical messengers that are transported to the tissues around our body through the bloodstream. There are at least 50 different hormones and they all help to regulate most of our major bodily functions, from hunger, growth, hydration and sleep, to happiness and reproduction. When we typically hold our hormones accountable, we usually mean our major reproductive ones: oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These can have a powerful effect on our day-to-day life, depending on which part of our menstrual cycle we’re currently in. In the first half, a few days after we finish our period, our oestrogen begins to rise, followed by testosterone shortly after. This typically leads to a rise in energy, a positive mood, better skin and a higher libido. After ovulation, in the second half of our menstrual cycle, progesterone begins to rise, alongside a second smaller peak in oestrogen. This leads to a calmer mood and better sleep. If we don’t fertilise the egg that gets released, oestrogen and progesterone levels can start to drop, which, if there is an imbalance between these two hormones, can lead to PMS symptoms including depression, anxiety, cravings, pain and bloating.
1. How’s your mood?
A. I get terribly moody right before my period, swinging between being overly emotional to feeling low.
B. I find myself getting really angry or anxious before my period.
C. My mood tends to be quite even all through my menstrual cycle.
2. What are your energy levels like?
A. I struggle to wake up in the morning and I rely on coffee to get me going.
B. I get extremely tired and lethargic right before my period.
C. My energy is really good. I feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed most of the time!
3. How do you sleep?
A. I struggle to get to sleep, but once I do, I stay asleep all night.
B. My sleep is easily disrupted.
C. I don’t have any issues nodding off. I sleep like a log most nights.
4. Let’s talk about our bodies. how do they feel?
A. My breasts get so tender right before my period.
B. I get so bloated when I’m on my period that I struggle to do up my trousers!
C. I don’t notice any difference in my breasts; they pretty much stay the same all through my menstrual cycle.
5. How’s your menstrual flow?
A. My periods have gotten heavier as I’ve gotten older. I have to change my tampon/pad at least every two hours!
B. My periods are really light and short. They don’t last longer than two days.
C. My periods are between four to seven days long. I might have one slightly heavier day.
6. Do you get headaches?
A. I sometimes get migraines before or during my period.
B. I get headaches right before my period, but they clear up as soon as my menstruation starts.
C. I only occasionally get a headache when I’m stressed or tired.
Mostly As: Oestrogen dominance/High oestrogen in relation to progesterone
If you’ve chosen at least three As, you might have more oestrogen in relation to progesterone. Oestrogen and progesterone need to be in balance: imagine them sitting on opposite ends of a see-saw, rising and falling across the menstrual cycle. When oestrogen is consistently higher than progesterone, this can lead to some of the symptoms we went through in the quiz. There are many reasons for this, including related conditions such as fibroids, endometriosis and adenomyosis. Dietary changes can have a huge impact on the amount of oestrogen we have and the process of removing it. High-fibre foods, including leafy green vegetables, crucifers such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles support the liver and gut in breaking down oestrogen and making sure we have regular bowel movements. Constipation can have a very negative impact on hormone health as this is how we remove the oestrogen the body has used and broken down. A bowel movement once a day does you good!
Mostly Bs: Low progesterone
If you chose at least three Bs, you might not be making enough progesterone when you ovulate. Progesterone is released from the corpus luteum, which is the by-product of ovulation. If you’re not ovulating every menstrual cycle, you could feel the effects of low progesterone. This is common when women go through the perimenopause or in a condition called luteal phase defect, where the ovaries don’t produce enough progesterone after ovulation, leading to a shorter luteal phase. If you’ve had these symptoms for a while, it’s important to speak to your GP. You can get your progesterone levels tested at two points in your menstrual cycle: on day two to three, when it should be at its lowest point, and again seven days after you ovulate (around day 21-25, depending on the length of your cycle).
Mostly Cs: Good to go!
Your menstrual cycle is normal and you don’t have any regular symptoms, apart from the odd twinge or cramp here or there.
Le’nise Brothers is a registered nutritionist, women’s health expert, hormone and menstruation coach and is the host of the Period Story podcast. She set up her practice, Eat Love Move, to help empower and educate women to understand their bodies, as well as advocate for better healthcare and healing. Find out more at, eatlovemove.com
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