Restore Hormone Balance for Improved Fertility
Infertility and reproductive-associated disease are global problems in the world today affecting millions of women. A successful pregnancy requires a healthy uterus ready to receive and support an implanting embryo. The uterus is dependent on the secretions of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which signal via receptors, for its monthly fluctuations in growth and decline. These hormones and their receptors also work together as a symphony to establish and maintain pregnancy. Specifically, estrogen’s signaling is vitally important as its peak level reaches its height on day 12 of the menstrual cycle, and signals the production of progesterone receptors. As progesterone rises in the 2nd half of a menstrual cycle, progesterone binding to these receptors and signaling is absolutely necessary for a successful pregnancy due to its initiation and maintenance of pregnancy. Additionally, appropriate progesterone signaling is important for the prevention of uterine disease such as endometrial cancer, endometriosis, and PCOS. Therefore, hormonal balance is absolutely necessary for a healthy uterus, for its ability to hold a pregnancy, carry to term and have a healthy baby.
Hormonal imbalance does not happen overnight. It happens slowly over time. Hormonal Imbalance is one of the leading causes of female infertility. A woman’s inability to ovulate and regulate hormone levels causes a production of too much or not enough of one particular hormone. This hormonal imbalance is manifested by symptoms that are easily detected allowing for treatment to begin as soon as possible. These symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, excessive bleeding or very little bleeding, abdominal and pelvic cramps, absence of menstrual period for stretches of time and excessive weight gain and loss.
How Does Hormonal Imbalance Happen?
Research shows that stress boosts levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, which inhibits the body’s main sex hormones GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) and subsequently suppresses ovulation, sexual activity and sperm count.
GnRH is responsible for the release of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone by the pituitary gland, the suppression of testosterone, estrogens, and sexual behavior. Chronic stress may cause lack of libido as well as a decrease in general fertility. Chronic stress may cause adrenal fatigue and thyroid problems.
The body is extremely sensitive to vitamin, mineral and fluid levels. If you are not eating healthy whole foods daily, your body cannot function properly. In addition, if you are eating foods that are unhealthy, full of preservatives, dyes and other human-made processed chemicals, you may be damaging your endocrine glands, thus causing hormonal imbalance. Many food additives are xenohormones. We need whole foods, in their natural state to support hormonal balance. We also need clean filtered drinking water to sustain fluid levels and flush toxins.
Xenohormones (Endocrine Disruptors)
Xenohormones are human-made chemicals. These chemicals have the ability to interfere with the natural functions and development of our bodies. Not only can they mimic our natural hormones, but they can block other hormones from binding to receptor sites. All xenohormones are endocrine disruptors. They can alter how natural hormones are produced, metabolized and eliminated.
Common Sources of Xenohormones:
- Hormonal birth control (pill, shot, ring, implant)
- Solvents & Adhesives (paint, nail polish, household cleaners)
- Non-organic meats (animals are given hormones to fatten them up or to grow quicker)
- Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides
- Emulsifiers in soap and cosmetics
- PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyl) from industrial waste
- You can absorb xenohormones by ingestion, inhalation and direct skin contact.
People that lead high-stress lives, are sedentary, have sleep disturbance or who choose to regularly consume too much sugar, alcoholic beverages, smoke or take drugs, including many medications, may be causing hormonal imbalance in the body.
Scientific researchers are working on the connection to genetic predisposition in regard to hormonal imbalances. They do know that there are genetic links to obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease and cardiovascular disease just to name a few, which may be caused by hormonal imbalance or cause hormonal imbalances.
Body fat cells, called adipocytes produce and store estrogen. Women who do not have adequate amounts of body fat may have menstrual cycle irregularities, anovulation and infertility problems. Low body fat may cause ovulation to stop.
People with a BMI greater than 30 may have elevated levels of estrogen in the body due to greater body fat content which may also contribute to infertility.
A tumor on one of the endocrine glands can impair the proper release of hormones. A benign pituitary tumor is the most common type of tumor causing hormonal imbalance.
Huge hormone changes begin to take place as a woman ages. Between the ages of 40-60 hormone levels begin to change in preparation for menopause and to allow the body to go through menopause. This takes many years. Perimenopause and menopause hormone changes are completely normal, though they make the body feel out-of-sorts.
Natural Therapies for Hormonal Imbalance
Eat a Nutrient Dense Fertility Diet
The best way to support balanced hormones is to eat a nutritious whole foods diet. The building blocks for hormones are found in the foods we eat. Just as nutrients in food can be helpful for fertility, there are some foods and chemicals added to foods that can be harmful for your health and fertility. What you eat, when you eat and how you eat are essential to maintaining hormonal balance.
Regular exercise strengthens our muscles, builds stamina, may increase flexibility, increases circulation, keeps stress, depression and anxiety at bay, and promotes regular detoxification of excess hormones and toxins in the body. It is important to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. Make sure that the exercise you choose to do promotes sweat. Sweating is not only the body’s way to cool itself off, it is its way to naturally detoxify daily. All of this is very important for healthy hormonal balance and circulation to the reproductive organs.
Reduce Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors: Xenohormones
Ways to support healthy endocrine function and avoid xenohormones:
- Eat organic foods
- Avoid exposure to pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers
- Use natural feminine care products
- Use organic, natural body care products, including makeup
- Avoid food preservatives and dyes
- Use low VOC paints
- Use recycled unbleached paper products
- Use non-chlorinated oxygen based bleach in the laundry
- Avoid plastics
- Exercise regularly, be sure you are sweating during exercise
In 2005, the Environmental Working Group found 287 chemicals were present in the umbilical cords of human babies. Toxins included a variety of pesticides, waste from burning coal, gasoline, oil repellents in fast food packaging, by-products of synthetic fabrics and textiles, PFOA found in Teflon, and flame retardants. Of the 287 chemicals found, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system. 208 have caused birth defects and abnormal development in animal tests. 180 of the chemicals are known to cause cancer. This test proves that chemicals in our environment are directly ingested, breathed and absorbed by our bodies and then are directly passed on to our children.
Considering the information in the paragraph above, anyone who is concerned about their hormonal health should perform a bi-yearly cleanse. Fertility cleansing is specific to supporting fertility health. Fertility cleansing encourages the liver to cleanse the body of toxins and excess hormones. We encourage both partners to perform a Fertility Cleanse prior to trying to conceive. Over the years, the body can accumulate toxins from chemicals in the air, earth, water and from substances we put into our bodies. Many of these toxins get stored in the fat tissues of the body and can be released quicker through cleansing. A fertility cleanse is specific to the reproductive system and assists the body in eliminating the additional burden of substances not good for fertility or for the health of our future children.
Make a Stress Management Plan
Because stress can wreak havoc on our endocrine glands, causing hormonal disruption, keeping stress at bay is essential to promoting hormonal balance. A stress management plan is essential to balanced hormones. No amount of herbs or supplements are going to be as effective if you are not managing stress.
Regain Hormonal Balance through HRT
Rebalancing estrogen and progesterone may be one of the easiest, and best ways of boosting fertility. Boosting estrogen through rhythmically dosed “natural” hormones (balancing hormones by replicating a woman’s cycle) can increase progesterone receptor formation, as well as increase estrogen receptor formation. Remember that proper reception of progesterone through the uterus is vital to implantation of the embryo as well as maintaining the endometrial lining to support the pregnancy, while estrogen reception is vital to the growth of the endometrial lining.
The increase of estrogen and its reception may also help with abnormal cervical mucus. Abnormal cervical mucus is a condition wherein the mucus lining the cervix and the uterus is not quite as it should be; the change in mucus consistency throughout the ovulation process is engineered mainly to aid in sperm journey and egg fertilization. Alteration in mucus consistency, with which the normal is thin and watery, becomes an obstruction for the sperm to reach the egg, complicating conception. With low estrogen production, the mucus becomes too thick for sperm to pass or swim through.
If pregnancy has already occurred, then targeting and saturating the progesterone receptor in the uterus may be the most useful solution and has been shown to be a very effective treatment option when progesterone is given through a vaginal suppository.