The Southern Side of the Endocrine System: Endocrine Disruption puts the ‘OOOOH’ in Ovaries
We women are complicated. (Alrighty men…. I can hear your “amens” from here! ). Truly though, it’s better that we just clear the air and state the truth. We.ARE.complicated! All throughout the body and endocrine system, clues are not generally gender specific… until now. Guys, this would be a good time to retreat to your man cave, unless of course you’d like to know a little more about the inner workings of your gal!
One of the most eye opening eras in my pharmacy career happened about 10 years ago. Someone very close to me came to the brink of suicide, and almost did not live through it. The growing signs of distress had been going on for years, and while I was starting to suspect a hormonal imbalance, I didn’t yet know enough outside the realm of western medicine to help her ask the questions that needed to be asked of her medical providers, or to request the labs that would ultimately reveal the root causes of her despair. Certainly, she had stress going on in her life too, and so the doctors gave her prescriptions for depression, anxiety, and sleep. All of the “blame” was laid on stress and emotional angst, and no digging for the root cause was ever done, until it was literally almost too late. It took a functional medicine team skilled in mind, body and spirit repair in a crisis situation to discover her imbalance in thyroid and sex hormones, as well as nutritional deficiencies, gut dysbiosis, and an inefficient immune system, all of which contributed to the direness of the situation. Frankly, if she had ended up in the hands of standard western medicine, I doubt she would still be alive. It took many many months for the body and mind to heal with the help of these skilled professionals.
Approximately 18% of all adult women in the USA take antidepressants, and 10% use anti anxiety medications. This number is roughly double that seen in men. While there are assuredly socio economic factors which come into play, the waxing and waning monthly rhythm of our environmentally influenced hormones are the largest reason women reach for a prescription bottle of any kind. Western medicine has failed women terribly by using these medications as bandaids for a body that has lost its balance.
After this event, I began researching women’s health in earnest….. looking for the reasons so many women had fallen between the cracks of healing care and seeking alternative wellness tools western medicine has chosen to overlook. As I filled new prescriptions for women recently diagnosed with depression or anxiety, I would ask if they had also been given orders for lab work prior to receiving their prescription for one (or more) of these medications. Shockingly, it was a rare woman who said that they had. Thorough (and I emphasize the word thorough!) lab work and subsequent (thorough!) analysis is key to circumventing the adverse effects of hormone imbalance. Those results are hard data which affirms the clues your body is giving you. One of the beauties of a woman’s menstrual cycle is that it is truly a monthly report card reflecting a woman’s health. Normal monthly cycles should not be felt to the extreme, either emotionally or physically. If they are, the body is waving a flag. As with men, endocrine disruption is a real and enormous problem to our individual and collective health. In women, endocrine disruption affects the reproductive cycle in ways that become “diagnoses”, which then often result in pharmaceutical bandaids that ultimately lead to secondary problems.
Endocrine disruption commonly results in something called estrogen dominance. It is the result of excessive estrogen production (and incoming estrogen like toxins from the environment), not enough progesterone produced by the ovaries or a combination of both issues. As with men (and children!), endocrine disruption happens quietly on little cat’s feet through small “daily dose” exposure to toxins found in plastic water bottles and food containers, pesticides, petroleum based products, soaps, body care products, commercial air fresheners, foods that have been exposed to hormones and many more. Estrogen dominance can also be aggravated by excessive body fat, chronic stress, and impaired gut and liver function.
Some signs symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
More rapidly aging skin
Aggravation of allergies and asthma (abnormally high levels of estrogen affects the body’s immune response)
Nipple tenderness, especially prior to periods
Hair thinning or hair loss
Body fat gains around the midsection, creating an “apple” or “pear” shaped torso. (Note that “apple shaped” weight gain can be a clue of possible PCOS in addition to estrogen dominance). Additional PCOS clues include abnormal body hair growth, insulin resistance, and darkened skin in the folds of the neck and armpits.
Headaches and migraines (estrogen dominance is one of the most common causes of headaches in women)
Irregular periods (may be light, heavy, or irregular in timing)
Water retention and bloating
A sluggish metabolism
Endometrial hyperplasia – caused by too much estrogen or not enough progesterone, or a combination of both. Left unaddressed, it may lead to cancer.
Long term, unmitigated estrogen dominance contributes to:
Hormonal cancers (breast, endometrial and uterine and prostate in men)
Infertility – Infertility currently affects more than 10% of women in the US of childbearing potential.
Lupus, Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune diseases – sharp fluctuations of estrogen as is seen around childbirth and menopause appear to contribute to autoimmune disorders.
Osteoporosis and osteopenia
Dementia and decreased brain function
Estrogen dominance is no laughing matter, and is arguably one of the biggest health concerns (and clues) of our time. Heavens! This alone is reason enough to make the safe, health supportive, and effective Young Living essential oils (and diffusers), body care products, and the entire Thieves Household cleaning products line standard wellness tools in every home! I often get asked “where do I start” in my wellness journey. The answer is here. Today! … begin detoxing your home and personal world if you haven’t already.
Oddly, one of the biggest contributors to our estrogen dominant selves is rarely talked about. It directly affects nearly 2/3rds of women of childbearing years in the USA, and indirectly affects the rest of us as it is flushed daily into the nation’s water supply.
Birth control pills.
Are birth control pills as safe as we’ve been led to believe? That’s the next clue. Tell the guys to continue cleaning their guns and watching football…. We’ve got a bit more to chat about!