In the last blog I explained how the monthly menstrual cycle works. This sets the stage for understanding how imbalances in cycle can take place. During the menstrual cycle there are four hormones that are essential for the process to work. Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), estrogens and progesterone all have specific levels that need to be reached during different times of the menstrual cycle.
If the amount of the hormones are at improper levels during the menstrual cycle it will cause imbalances and symptoms for women. So as we talk about imbalances of estrogens and progesterone, it will be in relationship to the normal ratios that occur during the cycle. In Susan M. Lark, MD’s PMS Self Help Book: A Woman’s Guide, she talks about abnormal estrogen and progesterone levels. When estrogens levels are too high in relation to the normal levels women tend to feel anxious. When progesterone levels are higher than normal levels of progesterone women tend to feel depressed. High estrogen levels are much more common than high progesterone levels so in addition to anxiety women my also experience breast tenderness, poor sleep habits, headaches or migraines, irregular bleeding, water retention, mood swings or weight gain. If the estrogens are levels are running without any progesterone kicking in at the second half of the cycle women may experience increase risks for infertility, heavy bleeding, fibroids, breast or uterine cancer and or heart disease.
One reason that woman may experience higher than normal estrogen levels is being overweight. Our fat cells, called adipose cells actually increases estrogens levels in the body. A women that is 20 or more pound overweight is increasing her estrogen levels and that may be affecting her periods. Xenoestrogens are industrial made compounds that mimic estrogen effects in the body. Xenoestrogens are found in many plastic products and this is why there are cautions about heating foods in plastic containers in the microwave or leaving plastic water bottles in the hot car.