Like most women, I’m sure you’ve been bombarded with sponsored ads about certain supplements, prescriptions, teas or treatments that claim to balance hormones.
But once you try them, either nothing changes or your hormones seem even more off-kilter.
While the right supplements and foods can help to balance hormones, there are other things that need to be addressed first but are often forgotten about.
Here are five of the most common reasons why most women fail at balancing hormones.
An often overlooked step for balancing hormones is addressing gut health. What most women don’t understand is that the health of the gut affects the health of the entire body — including your endocrine system.
Your digestive system is made up of about 100 trillion microbes, including bacteria, parasites and yeast. This collection of good and bad bacteria is also known as the gut microbiome. They play a critical role in several body functions such as (but not limited to) helping to digest food, absorb nutrients and protect against pathogens.
When it comes to your hormones, a healthy gut microbiome helps to manufacture and control hormones and neurotransmitters. A couple of hormones secreted within the gut include gastrin to help control gastric acid secretion and cholecystokinin to stimulate the release of pancreatic enzymes and bile.
A healthy gut microbiome also regulates estrogen levels in your body thanks to the estrobolome. This is the collection of bacteria within your gut that specifically metabolize and moderate circulating estrogen. The estrobolome does so by producing sufficient amounts of an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase. This decreases the reabsorption of estrogen that was filtered by the liver.
However, poor gut health such as dysbiosis (imbalance between good and bad bacteria) can negatively affect the production of hormones. For example, too much bad bacteria can increase the amount of beta-glucuronidase. This can lead to hormonal imbalances like estrogen dominance, which is associated with acne, PMS, PCOS, breast cancer and endometriosis. Dysbiosis can also impair proper thyroid function, elevate stress hormones and lead to blood sugar imbalances.
Put simply, hormonal balance depends on the health of your gut.
Another reason why most women fail to balance hormones is that their pathways of detoxification are blocked, especially their liver.
The liver is one of the major organs of detoxification and has over 500 functions in the body. One of its main jobs is to get rid of toxins like heavy metals, coffee, alcohol, nicotine, drugs and pesticides. Another responsibility is to filter hormones, which is crucial for balanced hormones and clear skin. The liver conjugates estrogens, epinephrine, testosterone, thyroid hormones and others. Then it excretes them in the bile for elimination via the stool.
This overburdens the liver, blocks the two phases of liver detoxification, contributes to excess estrogens and testosterone and leads to skin issues like acne.
Another pathway of detoxification that needs to be addressed when balancing hormones is the colon. Your large intestine (aka the colon) uses poop to expel toxins and excess waste out of the body. If poop sits for too long in the digestive tract, you start to recirculate toxins that were supposed to be excreted.
Healthy daily bowel movements are vital for balanced hormones because it’s how your body eliminates excess estrogen, yeast and fungus from the body. However, most women don’t have healthy daily bowel movements that are well-formed. If you’re drinking enough water and eating enough fibre, though, you should have a bowel movement one to three times a day.
You should also know what a normal bowel movement looks like. The Bristol Stool Chart (see below) can help give you some insight. The ideal shape of your poop should be a four
The endocrine system is quite sensitive, which means altering one type of hormone can disrupt a number of other hormones. That’s why it’s important to know what hormones are in balance and what hormones are not in balance before tackling them.
You need to know if it’s too little or too much estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol and so on.
Women also tend to skip over supporting insulin/blood sugar which is a critical part of hormonal balance. Unhappy level blood glucose and insulin levels can lead to an increase in the production of androgen hormones (like testosterone).
Over in my acne program, The Clear Skin Solution, we help our clients discover their hormonal imbalances through symptomatology/comprehensive testing and develop protocols to help them get their hormones back in harmony.
Supplements are very individualized and a random hormone balancing blend you see on Instagram isn’t a blanket option for all hormones. For example, some supplements are created for those with high estrogen. But if your issue is high testosterone, that supplement won’t help and may contribute to other hormonal imbalances.
Like I said before, you need to work with a healthcare professional who can help you identify your hormone imbalances and recommend supplements for your specific needs.
The final reason why most women fail at balancing hormones is that they don’t remove endocrine disruptors from personal care products and food storage. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like xenoestrogens mimic hormones in the body and can lead to hormonal imbalances, which is a big contributing factor to acne and liver toxicity.
These chemicals are commonly found in non-organic food, conventional personal care and household products. Here are a few tips to avoid them: