Ah, balance… We strive to find it in almost every aspect of our lives. From work, social, home and health-life, we are constantly seeking balance to make our lives better. Even our hormones have to find a perfect harmony!
But what exactly is a “hormone balance” and how can you achieve it? We thought we would break it down to the basics to help make it easier to achieve “hormone harmony!”
Which hormones should be in balance?
If you’re already in touch with your cycle, you probably know there are two main players in the hormone balance game: estrogen and progesterone. These two are equally important and each get their own time to shine during different parts of your cycle.
During the first half of your cycle, the follicular phase, estrogen is the star while progesterone levels are low. Estrogen, which is produced by growing follicles before ovulation occurs, is responsible for controlling the growth of the uterine lining during the first half of the cycle. It also naturally increases energy levels and heightens awareness.
The second phase of the cycle – the luteal phase – starts after ovulation. This is where estrogen drops and progesterone rises. Progesterone is produced by the empty follicle after an egg is released. It is responsible for balancing out the uterine lining growth done by estrogen in the first half of the cycle and prepares the lining for implantation, should conception occur. Progesterone also helps you feel calmer than you did in the first half of your cycle. You can read more about the stages of your cycle here.
At the end of the luteal phase, if conception has not occurred, progesterone drops, menstruation beings, and the whole cycle repeats. Each phase, estrogen and progesterone seesaw: one rises, the other falls, and vice versa. This is hormone balance!
Why is balancing your hormones important?
Hormones are the foundation for every function in your body. Your reproductive hormones play a huge role in your energy levels, mood, appetite, weight, and sleep, among others. Essentially, a balanced amount of hormones keeps you feeling good, allowing you to be the best possible version of yourself!
A useful way to get insights around the effect of your hormones on your body (and mind!) is to track your cycle. You can use a cycle tracking app or something like the Bellabeat fitness trackers. These types of tools can support you to optimise your health and lifestyle around your hormone fluctuations.
What are the signs and symptoms of a hormone imbalance?
When either estrogen or progesterone are too high when they should be low or too low when they should be high, there is hormonal imbalance. Due to all the important roles these hormones play in the body, an imbalance can lead to various symptoms:
- Heavy or irregular periods
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Mood swings or irritability
- Unexplained weight gain
- Fatigue or irregular sleep patterns
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal dryness
- Loss of libido
It’s important to remember that every woman is different and may experience different symptoms.
How can I check if I have a hormone imbalance?
While your doctor is a great place to go to for hormone testing, it is often easier (and cheaper) to start with at-home hormone testing options, like Proov. Proov is the first FDA cleared PdG test kit for ovulation confirmation. PdG is the urine metabolite of progesterone and is only metabolised in urine when progesterone is present in blood.
Now, we know what you may be thinking: How does confirming ovulation help detect a hormone imbalance? For ovulation to be considered “successful,” sufficient hormone levels must be present to give an egg the best chance at conception.
While a single positive Proov test confirms ovulation, four positive Proov tests days 7-10 after suspected ovulation confirms successful ovulation has occurred. If all Proov tests are positive during this window, then post-ovulation hormone levels are sufficient and act to properly balance the pre-ovulatory hormones. However, if one or more Proov tests are negative, this could be a sign of “weak” ovulation that can lead to estrogen dominance, so we recommend visiting your doctor to check that your hormones are good to go. Additionally, if you never get a positive Proov test, this could be a sign of anovulation and we recommend consulting your doctor.
How do I get my hormones back in balance?
If all of your Proov tests were negative, or other tests from your doctor showed an imbalance, you may need prescription strength medication or supplements. If you are interested in a prescription supplement regardless of results, we recommend consulting your doctor.
However, if a few of your Proov tests were negative or slightly negative, there are several natural, at-home options you can try:
Seed Cycling: Seed cycling involves eating certain seeds during each phase of your cycle to promote hormone production. During the follicular phase, you eat raw flax and pumpkin seeds to promote estrogen production and during the luteal phase, you switch to raw sunflower and sesame seeds for progesterone production. If you’re looking for a creative and tasty way to get your seeds in, check out this recipe!
Herbals: Herbals such as vitex (or chasteberry), maca, and red raspberry leaf can help boost progesterone levels, while black cohosh, vitex, and evening primrose oil have been shown to increase estrogen levels.
Diet: If you’re low on estrogen, many foods contain phytoestrogens which mimic estrogen in the body. Some foods to add to your grocery list include soy products, dried fruits, garlic, and peaches. On the other hand, while progesterone isn’t naturally present in foods, there are some foods that help stimulate progesterone production. If you need an extra progesterone boost, stay on the lookout for beans, broccoli, pumpkin, brussel sprouts, kale, and nuts.
The sooner you detect and treat any hormonal issues, the sooner you can be back to the best version of yourself! Have questions about Proov or hormone imbalances? Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!