Healthy Hormones

Healthy Hormones

If you are having difficulty conceiving, you’re not alone. Dashed hopes of becoming pregnant can easily be recovered–many conception difficulties are treatable.

Proper investigation into the source of an underlying medical condition is a crucial first step towards achieving a healthy pregnancy. Your doctor’s evaluation should include blood work, a thorough physical exam, and detailed health history and lifestyle assessment. Hormone testing via saliva or blood is crucial since, along with structural abnormality (such as a blocked fallopian tube), hormonal issues are a common underlying cause of infertility. Hormonal imbalances that may interfere with conceiving include polycystic ovarian disease, hypothyroidism, and endometriosis.

Polycystic Ovarian Sisease

Some sources say that polycystic ovarian disease, or PCO, may occur in up to 10 percent of women with irregular periods. Ovulation does not occur every month and menses can be absent or irregular. Often symptoms include ovarian cysts, acne, hair loss, weight gain, abnormal hair growth on the body, and a pre-diabetic condition called insulin resistance. Because cyst-free ovaries do not rule out PCO, blood work is important. Signs and symptoms can vary.

If not managed properly, PCO can lead to increased risk for type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. However, a treatment plan focused on the balance of blood sugar and insulin levels, stress hormones, and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, other than the birth control pill) can bring about dramatic improvements in health and a successful pregnancy.

Excess sugar and simple carbohydrates found in processed foods increase insulin levels and lead to weight gain, exacerbating symptoms. Eating a balance of healthy fats, lean protein, and low-glycemic carbohydrates with each meal and snack–eating a “carb conscious” diet–is best for conception success as it will assist with stable insulin levels and weight loss. A whey protein smoothie with soy milk, berries, and flaxseed is a perfect breakfast, while a stir-fry with chicken and loads of veggies (skip the white rice) is great for lunch or dinner. Add two protein-rich snacks per day to stabilize metabolism and hormonal balance.

Decreasing body fat through exercise is a key component in PCO treatment. Weight training to promote the insulin sensitivity that is vital for weight loss should be done at least three times per week. A drop in body weight by only 13 percent can bring about great results and help to re-establish the menstrual cycle.

In addition to diet and exercise, numerous supplements are useful in PCO treatment. Products like conjugated linoleic acid, green tea, alpha lipoic acid, and chromium help to lower insulin levels and aid in weight loss. The herbal medicine vitex (chasteberry) helps to stimulate ovulation and the production of progesterone often deficient in PCO, while saw palmetto can reduce abnormally high levels of testosterone.

Hypothyroidism

Two people in every 100 have hypothyroidism, or subnormal activity of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism can cause fatigue, weight gain, irregular periods, hair loss, chronic iron deficient anemia, high cholesterol, infertility, and possibly early ovarian failure. Simple blood tests and monitoring basal body temperatures will give clues on how your thyroid gland is functioning. Once a diagnosis is made, daily dosages of natural thyroid hormone are an effective treatment.

Endometriosis

Endometriosis is a condition in which the mucous membrane lining the uterus grows in the pelvic cavity, resulting in pelvic pain. It is a condition of estrogen dominance. Supplements like indol-3-carbinol, calcium d-glucarate, and natural progesterone cremes significantly improve this hormonal imbalance by reducing harmful estrogen metabolites and increasing progesterone.

Reducing your intake of saturated fat found in meats and dairy products, while increasing essential fatty acids through regular consumption of fish, nuts, avocados, and olive oil is beneficial. Topping up your intake of red and orange vegetables and fruits rich in antioxidants is also helpful. Herbs to cleanse the liver such as milk thistle, rosemary, turmeric, and dandelion root can help by reducing inflammation and menstrual pain.

The cause of infertility appears equally between the sexes and for both can be related to hormonal imbalance as well as structural abnormalities, nutritional deficiencies, or many other reasons. Fortunately, after thorough investigation into the cause, viable, safe, and effective dietary and natural supplement options are available, with long-lasting, health-promoting effects and prove little to no risk for future health.

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