Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice. This article is merely to tell my story and encourage you to do research and go see a doctor if you resonate at all with any of this. You and your quality of life MATTER.
I used to feel bat shit crazy. For 2 weeks every month I’d be:
- very tired (like sleep for 10-12 hours and still be sleepy)
- irritable (took everything way personally and out of proportion)
- extremely emotional (woke up wanting to cry about nothing or punch a wall)
- lose interest in literally everything (homework, friends, violin, etc.)
- have brain fog, couldn’t remember ANYTHING (like homework or actual work)
- etc, etc, etc.
I thought for a long time that this was just how life was. In high school and college, it’s attributed to being “crazy” or “hormonal” or “being a girl”. But I never felt like that was a good enough answer. I started my period at age 11 and started to notice these symptoms as abnormal around age 15, when I got in a fight with my high school boyfriend for no reason and I almost had this weird out of body experience. Like why am I yelling? What am I yelling about? Why am I not in control of my emotions?
Finally in college, around age 20, the severe fatigue started to affect my school work and the lack of interest in life started to affect the few friendships I actually had. So I went to go see a campus doctor and she prescribed birth control (*eye roll*). She didn’t explain to me how my hormones work, she didn’t do bloodwork, she just handed that shit out like candy.
Disclaimer: I have zero issue with birth control. Your body, your choice. HOWEVER, please do your research on what you’re putting into your body. Your health and quality of life depend on it, and you cannot rely on one doctors opinion when your current and future health is at stake.
I took the pills and they made me crazier. I distinctly remember calling my mom one day and saying “I’m shaking, I’m so angry for no reason and I don’t know what to do”. Of course she told me to stop taking the pills. Still back at square one. When I was 22, I got a few more answers when I went to a Women’s Health Clinic who talked a bit about hormones and recommended a low dose Progesterone only pill. Again, I took it, and it made me a basket case. Each time I took it, I gave it 2-3 months before saying “nah”.
Then I started to notice the pattern of things happening. About 2 weeks before my period I felt like absolute garbage (refer to symptoms above). But then I’d start my period and all of a sudden feel like myself again! Tons of energy, personality, etc. Then I’d be good for about 2 weeks (during my period and then through my ovulation cycle). Then we’d be back in the viscous cycle. It would take another 3 years before I really buckled down and started doing research.
I started reading other women’s stories and doing research about hormones and what a lack of each means and here’s the short of it (LOL cause it’s not that short but get ready for some education):
What are hormones?
A regulatory substance produced in an organism and transported in tissue fluids such as blood or sap to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action.
- a synthetic substance with an effect similar to that of an animal or plant hormone.
- a person’s sex hormones as held to influence behavior or mood.
What is estrogen?
Estrogen is responsible for female physical features and reproduction. Estrogen also helps control the menstrual cycle and is an important hormone for childbearing. It is also what triggers puberty and is responsible for breast growth as well as underarm and pubic hair growth.
What is progesterone?
Progesterone is secreted by the corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine gland that the female body produces after ovulation during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Basically Progesterone is important shit. It creates an ideal environment for egg fertilization and depending on if that happens or not, will continue from there.
What are symptoms of estrogen dominance? (too much estrogen, not enough progesterone)
I’ve placed a * next to ones I was experiencing
- swelling and tenderness in your breasts
- fibrocystic lumps in your breasts
- decreased sex drive*
- irregular menstrual periods
- increased symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)*
- mood swings*
- anxiety and panic attacks*
- weight gain*
- hair loss*
- cold hands or feet
- trouble sleeping*
- sleepiness or fatigue*
- memory problems*
What are symptoms of progesterone dominance? (too much progesterone, not enough estrogen)
These symptoms are more closely associated with menopause since progesterone is usually only dominant when estrogen plummets. This happens during menopause because a woman is past her ideal childbearing years. Since estrogen is responsible for telling your ovary to release an egg, and estrogen drops, a woman could become progesterone dominant.
- Mood swings
- Weight gain
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary infections
- Loss of libido
SO WHAT DID I LEARN AFTER ALL OF THIS RESEARCH?!
I figured out what estrogen and progesterone are like a seesaw that are supposed to seamlessly take your body through the month of a menstrual cycle and trade off taking care of your reproductive system. Estrogen dominates for half of the cycle, then Progesterone dominates for the last half of the cycle, when you uterus is preparing to menstruate.
Except with me, my progesterone didn’t take over when it was supposed to. Therefore I am estrogen dominant and had to supplement with progesterone. In the interest of taking a more natural path and not using prescription synthetic drugs, I opted for a more homeopathic solution. Since I had already been through the ringer while taking pills, I found Life Flo Progesterone Cream.
This company has been around for a while and is HEAVILY endorsed in so many forums that talk about this subject. Each pump is pre-measured as delivering 10mg of natural progesterone (in lieu of synthetic). I use one pump per day on the 3 weeks I’m not on my period.
I felt a huge difference in the first week I was using this stuff. Finally I was sleeping normally, my mood was level all the time, and I had energy again! Now the crazy thing is is that I have to be super strict about it. If I get off a couple days or even a week, I’m back to undesirable symptoms.
More recently, I was interested in learning more about potentially getting a IUD. Before even explaining literally anything, this OBGYN (my first time seeing her), automatically wanted to put me on a hormonal IUD that would stop my period. WOAH PUMP THE FREAKIN’ BRAKES LADY!!! We could talk about big Pharma all day and how this doctor probably got a kick back for every hormonal IUD she shoved up a woman’s uterus with complete disregard of the individual’s health or goals but I digress.
I very calmly explained my history and current form of managing it (using the progesterone cream), and she goes “ok if it’s working for you then we won’t mess with it”. LADIES IT WAS THAT EASY to tell a doctor what’s up. She wanted to put me on something that would stop a naturally occurring body function that could potentially affect my future fertility and overall health. I feel like we get put into this trap of thinking that one doctor knows all the answers and that they must be right cause they’re a doctor.
STOP THINKING THIS WAY.
In no way am I demonizing doctors or saying they are never right. What I am saying is is that your health is your responsibility and if a doctor is just shoving pills down your throat instead of saying “wow you’re in your early 20’s and shouldn’t be experiencing these symptoms, let’s do some tests and find out more”. Then maybe that shouldn’t be a doctor that you see. I have NEVER had a doctor (after seeing 4 different ones), ever recommend that we do blood tests to actually check my hormone levels… let that sink in. After tackling this issue for 4 years, and seeing 4 different doctors, none of them wanted to find the root of the issue. They merely wanted to put a band aid on it and send me on my way. I’m not suggesting that you run out and buy progesterone cream and everything will be peaches and cream.
What I am suggesting is:
- Find a doctor who listens to your symptoms and wants to work with you on finding a solution that is backed by information about you as an individual (blood work, etc.), and a route you want to take whether it’s homeopathic or prescription based
- Do your own research about the solutions that your doctor is proposing before jumping on board
- Be patient – I tried a different brand of progesterone cream once and it was no bueno but certainly worth the try
- Take this shit seriously. After a few months of doing this, I felt like I had crawled out of a hole I had been living in for years. I felt like I had taken my life back and I was in control.
Important resources used for the creation of this post: