The weight of it – holy hormones!

It has always amazed me just how much of our physical presentation, our emotional well-being, our motivations, our very perspective on life, depends on our hormone balance.

I’ve seen female bodies transition to male, and male to female almost entirely through the addition of different hormones.

I saw my mother suffer for more than a decade from never-ending menopause.  

Remember when I said I thought I had adrenal / cortisol fatigue?

This, after months of working with a nutritionist and losing zero pounds. I may have even gained a pound during that.  The puzzling thing was, there was no reason I SHOULD have gained weight, especially not while maintaining a chaperoned diet designed to help me lose weight.

I have not mentioned how, in the last two years, my periods have been getting worse.  Investigating that was on my to do list for this fall anyway, but it didn’t seem urgent.

Know how your body tells you something is urgent?  It gives you a STABBING PAIN IN THE BLADDER for days.  No infection, just RELENTLESS ALARMING PAIN.  And since the GP (family doc) advises you to take ibuprofen for the pain and await test results, which he then says are all “within normal range”, it’s your body that drives you to a private clinic.

At least, that’s how it has happened for me.

Today, I am delighted and relieved as I sit atop this ice pack to say that my “normal” blood work is not actually normal to the specialist – a naturopathic doctor who specializes in women’s reproductive health.  Apparently, blood results are open to interpretation. 

I suspected I had estrogen dominance.  I had three different blog friends email me and suggest I look into it, as they were helped with that diagnosis after years of farting around with symptoms similar to what I’ve described here.  I did some reading, and yes, that would explain a lot.  The ridiculous periods, the inexplicable stubborn weight gain, the embarassing constipation I didn’t know I had. Even my dry itchy eyes could be resulting from estrogen dominance. 

What was immensely gratifying was the confirmation of my suspicion: my progesterone should be MUCH higher than it is, in relation to the estrogen.  Even though both hormones are within acceptable range, their ratios are abnormal – and that’s not something my GP seems to know about.  General Practitioners can’t be expected to keep up with everything, and our GPs are also emergency room docs.  Don’t get me wrong, they are great docs – but I wonder if docs who so frequently do emergency work look at me, walking, talking and complaining of pain, and immediately de-prioritize my care as “not urgent”, like they would in the ER.

Female pain tends to get down-graded too.  When the GP suggested “dryness” and “discomfort” I felt like my description of “scary stabbing pain” wasn’t really heard.  Office chairs are uncomfortable.  Pain is pain.

It probably doesn’t help that I have a dark sense of humour, and describing pain while cracking a joke is not something I should do in a doctors office. As long as I am coping, and I can cope with a good deal of pain, I will cope with jokes.  When I can’t cope, I cry, and that’s what happens at pain level 8 or 9.  Broken bones are an 8, nerve pain for me is a 9.  This current pain is a 7.  That’s what I should have said.  DO NOT MAKE JOKES WHILE DESCRIBING PAIN.  Note to self!

GPs and ER docs are not reproductive health specialists.  

I knew I needed a specialist who wouldn’t just toss a cookie-cutter prescription at me.  And who would spend more than 10 minutes with me.  AND who was open to the idea that this all started years ago, with intense, prolonged stress.  Stress that changed the colour of my hair from warm, multicoloured chestnut, to flat, monotone, dark brown with 1/4 grey hair.  

If that happened to my hair, what happened inside?

Oh and I’m also significantly iron deficient.  Probably from all of the ridiculous bleeding.  I will have to sit down and have a conversation with this intelligent designer I keep hearing about – I think we need a fertility off-switch.  There’s got to be a suggestion box up there.

 Did you know that if you take iron supplements you should also take them with vitamin C?  It improves absorbency.  But avoid calcium with the iron, because that will interfere with iron absorption.
So that nice glass of organic milk I had with my steak last week was not as helpful as I thought.  

Next step: getting my lab kit in the mail.  Know what you do with that?  You spit into vials four different times on the 18th day of your cycle, and then freeze it.  Then you mail the frozen saliva back to the lab.  Neat, eh?

The reason for spit-testing is this: the hormones flying around the blood stream don’t all make it into the tissues.  The estrogen / progesterone ratio could be different when you look at what has actually passed through the tissues and into the saliva.

This next round will also give more detail about which types of estrogen and progesterone are at what levels – blood tests gather the sum total of each type. 

At the end of all of this, I will come away with a precise prescription to get my body back on track, and there will be monitoring of the progress / effectiveness of the treatments too.

In describing my pain, the specialist suggested I go to the ER to access a different doctor.  She really took my pain seriously.  She heard pain and understood I meant PAIN.  I had to explain that while our town is beautiful, we don’t have many options with doctors – it’s the clinic docs who staff the ER.  I would just be sent to the clinic, or I’d end up seeing the same clinic doc in the ER!  Unless the pain was so bad I needed morphine, there was no point in going to the ER.  

The ER is like a hammer.  I need a tuning.  You can’t tune a piano with a hammer.

Anyway, I will continue to see the GP for referrals to get an ultrasound in search of the source of the stabbing pain, and for a referral to a urologist. Stabbing pain is not a hormone issue – unless it’s a cyst or polyp caused by the hormones.  It could be that, it could be a few other things. More information is needed.

I really love our public health care system.  It’s just a shame that public health care sometimes means slow, incomplete health care.  This diagnosis could have taken me months, possibly years through the public system.  I had an extremely painful condition in my 20s that progressed  for nearly 2 years, with normal test results and multiple clinic and ER docs repeating the same, useless information.  Then, I finally got in front of a specialist who knew what she was looking at the moment she saw me.

And the solution was gentle and easy.  One pill once a month.  It took me over a year before my body’s balance corrected itself and I no longer needed those pills, but they completely turned it around for me.

This is why I love heath care.  The right solution can change your life.  Do you know how many times I would have died if not for modern medicine?

I always think about the diet factor.  But sometimes, diet isn’t enough.  Diet could not fix this spiral – the stress, causing adrenal fatigue, causing estrogen dominance, causing anemia, weight gain and a plethora of other symptoms.  

Encouraged, I’m going back to my healthy diet with new zeal.  No sugar.  Low flour.  Little dairy.  It’s not easy, but I know it’s the best diet for me, based on experience.  I feel like it’s worth the effort now, because I think I’ll be back on track soon.  

Good health, everyone, or as they say in Germany, gazunteight!

10 thoughts on “The weight of it – holy hormones!

  1. Oh, and I had interstitial cystitis, which caused a lot of bladder pain with “normal” values. I learned to avoid supplements with calcium or potassium, as they aggravated the bladder something awful! I’m mentioning it just in case you have something similar and are taking supplements, thinking they should help. Some do, but some don’t! The doctors weren’t any help with that, but I finally figured it out after some research.


    • YES! I was back in the GPs office today to get my referrals to the ultrasound and the urologist, and interstitial cystitis was what he mentioned (when I reiterated STABBING BLADDER PAIN is very different from my regular monthly cramps.). He prescribed pyridium for bladder pain. I’ve taken one dose and I feel like Julie Andrews singing the Hills are alive! The rush of optimism you get when pain finally lifts!

      Sweetie was saying she remembered my ND mentioned interstitial cystitis and that it could be a part of the hormone thing. I thought she said bladder pain is unrelated to hormones, but maybe I have that wrong. It sure seems like the pain is related to hormones!

      I wish NDs and GPs would integrate a bit more. There are studies happening in both worlds, but the GPs never read the ND studies. The NDs with prescriptive privileges tend to read studies from both. In my NDs case, she spends all day strictly with fertile / trying to get to be fertile women.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It helped me a lot to know what was going on. I stopped trying to get care for it as much because no one seemed to understand. When tests shows no infection, they tested my like a hypochondriac, so I deal with it on my own. I found a supplement that helps – Urinari-X.


      • Yeah, that’s how it goes sometimes. The GP said interstitial cystitis is not well understood ie, difficult to diagnose and treat.

        At least knowing the bladder pain meds work confirms for the GP it is actually bladder pain, as I said. So that’s one tiny step that I can take to the urologist.

        A big issue out here is wait time. The urologist who serves the west coast isn’t out here firs other 3 months. I’ll call his office and see if I can get in earlier, and the ND suggested an alternate urologist her patients work with. I can’t wait three months, so seeing I’ll have to travel 4-6 hours each way to see them in their office.

        A price we pay to live in this beautiful place.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: You too. | Kate Sitka

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