I know this is a long and overdue subject. I also know that hormones and anxiety have been hot topics in the media, but for good reason. I wanted to share a part of my story to help others and give insight.
This is not going to be a short story, so bear with me.
My journey with hormones started just a few years ago although, my body would say otherwise. For as long as I can remember I've had anxiety. Mostly stemming from my childhood. I was a very anxious child and held a lot of stress but it became my norm. Stress and anxiety tremendously affect your hormones. The more cortisol (stress hormone) your body is producing the more your body goes into fight or flight mode. Being in flight or fight mode, your body essentially runs as if it's in high power, shutting off the digestive system and other functions to the brain to focus on keeping you alive.
I grew up biting my nails until they bled. Twirling my hair until I had bald spots and shaking like a leaf. I didn't even realize how severe my habits were until someone pointed them out. I was twirling my hair in my sleep. I remember experiencing severe stomach pains as a child and constantly having trouble going to the bathroom. My biggest nightmare was enemas and at one point, I was getting them every week to help me go.
I experienced the same symptoms for years but again, it became my norm and I had too many other things to worry about.
I would say that I became aware that something was really "off" when I was a junior in high school. I started experiencing pelvic pain and if you've read my PCOS post, then you know that I've never had a natural period. This was obviously a big red flag but it was something I told myself would happen later. Well, later never came and at the age of 18, I finally made my first gynecology appointment. Around the same time, my hair started falling out in large chunks.
I told the doctor all of my concerns and symptoms and he immediately put me on the pill so that I would have a period. I did as the doctor said because I was young and unaware. I was on the pill for about a year and experienced crazy side effects. You can read more about my experience with the pill on my PCOS post.
I knew that it wasn't just in my head and what I was experiencing wasn't natural. I started doing my own research and immediately stopped taking the pill.
For a few years, I was on nothing at all. I started taking more vitamins and switching my store-bought products to natural products. I wanted my body to get back to its normal state and I still had a lot to learn before taking any further steps or medication.
By this time I had moved to Colorado and was broker than ever. No health insurance and in an unknown town without a primary doctor. But my pelvic pain was worse than ever. I was getting breakouts on my jawline. I couldn't stand up all of the way and my hair was still falling out. I was desperate and decided to see a doctor and pay out of pocket.
My first appointment was over an hour-long because, well, I'm a talker and I like to understand every detail. The doctor predicted that I had endometriosis which I had already looked up and done my fair share of research on. He explained that my hormones and my high-stress levels have caused my hormones to remain imbalance and he needed to take a closer look at my hormones. Unfortunately, getting your blood drawn is a pretty penny and without insurance, I simply couldn't do it. He told me to come back when I had coverage.
And I did.
A few months had gone by and I was settling into Colorado. I was still experiencing pain and weird symptoms like insomnia, increased anxiety, and loss of hair.
He drew my blood and the results came back that I had high levels of estrogen (which feeds endometriosis) and my DHEA hormones are off the charts signaling that I have PCOS (hence the hair loss). I was devastated to hear that there is no cure for either. He again recommended the pill to "regulate" my hormones and I kindly declined.
At this point, I took matters into my own hands and researched everything I could on naturally healing your hormones. I started taking lots of herbs and supplements like dandelion root, berberine for my PCOS, and zinc + turmeric to help fight the inflammation in my body.
My pain was not going away. It was getting worse. By this time my doctor recommended surgery which you can read about here.
My hormones will always be off. My body will always be fighting the inflammation and suffering from endometriosis. But the important thing is that I am aware of how strong my body is.
I know how important it is to get your hormones checked and see the gynecologist regularly.
You know your body! Symptoms of hormonal imbalance for both men and women can look like:
increased sensitivity to cold or heat
constipation or more frequent bowel movements
unexplained weight loss (sometimes sudden)
increased or decreased heart rate
muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints
thinning hair or fine, brittle hair
decreased sex drive
nervousness, anxiety, or irritability
Crazy, huh? I didn't even realize some of the symptoms I was experiencing until I started understanding my body. Most people right off a lot of the above symptoms and cover them up with over the counter meds without going to the root of the problem. Your body is signaling that something is wrong.
According to Walkin Lab, "Hormones are biochemicals that act as messengers throughout one’s body. These compounds can coordinate movements between distant bodily organs, trigger hunger pangs or feelings of satisfaction, inhibit or spur growth, and regulate the metabolism. Among numerous other bodily functions, hormones essentially keep the body in check – delicately balancing sleep with wakefulness, growth with bodily rest, feelings of hunger versus satiety, and overall mood. Hormone testing is an important component to overall health and can help identify and uncover significant health and wellness issues that may have otherwise gone unnoticed."
Bottom line: be your own health advocate! It's your body and you have the right to understand it. Do your research and make sure that you find a doctor that listens.
I now get my hormones tested every other month and have a very good relationship with my doctor even though we don't agree on medication. He works with me and my natural approach and I think that's what's important.
I know this was long but I hoped it helped in some way. Please reach out if you have any other questions or want to share your story!