The Rise and Fall of Hormones
In honour of Mothers’ Day month, I am going to address some women’s health issues for the next few blog posts. I will talk about some physical aspects of healing, but ones that have a profound effect on our mental, emotional and spiritual fields as well. When we are in the flow of good energy physically, then it is easier to be in harmony on all levels.
Our bodies consists of trillions of cells that need vitamins, minerals, essential fats, carbohydrates and proteins (amino acids) to stay healthy. Optimum levels of health require optimum nutrition and equally optimum cell performance. Deficiencies produce problems like PMS symptoms, and menstrual problems.
So let’s start with menstruation. Menstruation is the most visible phase of the menstrual cycle. The rise and fall of levels of hormones during the month control the menstrual cycle. Menstruation is the shedding of the uterine lining which happens once a month. It also prepares your body for pregnancy each month. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days long. The typical woman bleeds for approximately two to seven days at the beginning of each menstrual cycle. Menstruation will start at the onset of puberty and end at the beginning of menopause.
In the first half of the cycle, levels of estrogen start to rise. Estrogen plays an important role in keeping you healthy, especially by helping you to build strong bones and to help keep them strong as you get older. Estrogen also makes the lining of the uterus (womb) grow and thicken. This lining of the womb is a place that will nourish the embryo if a pregnancy occurs. At the same time the lining of the womb is growing, an egg, or ovum, in one of the ovaries starts to mature. At about day 14 of an average 28-day cycle, the egg leaves the ovary. This is called ovulation.
After the egg has left the ovary, it travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus. Hormone levels rise and help prepare the uterine lining for pregnancy. A woman is most likely to get pregnant during the 3 days before or on the day of ovulation. Keep in mind, women with cycles that are shorter or longer than average may ovulate before or after day 14.
A woman becomes pregnant if the egg is fertilized by a man’s sperm cell and attaches to the uterine wall. If the egg is not fertilized, it will break apart. Then, hormone levels drop, and the thickened lining of the uterus is shed during the menstrual period.
So you see that many parts of a woman’s body are involved in this process. All these need nutritional support. Last week we learned that hormones need lots of nutrients like amino acids, vitamin B, vitamin E, GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), and zinc. Our ovaries and uterus need extra zinc, vitamin E and B complex. The fact that women lose menstrual blood every month requires additional iron to counter weakness and fatigue as well as zinc, amino acids, calcium/magnesium and B complex, vitamins C and E.
When we are not giving the body the right nutrients to function properly, then there can be challenges such as premenstrual syndrome, better known as PMS. High caffeine or tobacco intake and stress may trigger the condition as well. Eating large amounts of sugar depletes the body of many vitamins and minerals and this will cause symptoms such as fatigue, palpitations and headaches.
More than 200 different symptoms have been associated with PMS, but the three most prominent emotional symptoms are irritability, tension, and unhappiness. Common symptoms may include significant menstrual pain abdominal pain, migraine headaches, depression, emotional sensitivity such as stress, anxiety, and mood swings, nausea, breast swelling, difficulty in falling asleep, headaches, fatigue, and changes in libido. Severe uterine pain is particularly common for adolescents and young women. More severe symptoms may be classified as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). The sensations experienced vary from woman to woman and from cycle to cycle.
Most women with premenstrual syndrome experience only a few of the possible symptoms, in a relatively predictable pattern. Under typical definitions, symptoms must be present at some point during the ten days immediately before the onset of menses, and must not be present for at least one week between the onset of menses and ovulation. Although the intensity of symptoms may vary somewhat, most definitions require that the woman’s unique constellation of symptoms be present in multiple, consecutive cycles.
Improved nutrition is the key to management of PMS. B complex is a water soluble vitamin that will be essential for the lessening of the prominent emotional symptoms associated with PMS. GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) works amazing for everyone with PMS. In my practice, I have found a brand that without fail has turned around every woman’s symptoms within a three month period. Check out last week’s blog for more detailed information on GLA. The other nutrients needed are a multi vitamin/mineral complex, amino acids, calcium/magnesium, zinc and vitamins C, E, and Beta Carotene. It should be noted that insufficient magnesium and B complex may cause cravings for sugar and chocolate which of course lead to further nutritional deficiencies. So keep your body nourished and your body will function at its optimum without all the associated symptoms that cause discomfort. Remember as women we need those vitamins and minerals daily as we are giving out to others constantly and our bodies need to be nourished in order to keep healthy and keep up.
Hope all you mothers had a wonderful healthy Mother’s Day.
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Next week I will cover some more feminine issues.