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Progesterone/estrogen imbalance

Kate LeKites

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Hello, all. I am 37 and have had what I call irregular periods for 20 years. While the length of my cycle has always been consistent, I have had spotting at various points in my cycle throughout the years. It used to be around mid-cycle for a few days (this was also the case when I was on hormonal B/C). I tried various B/C pills before I knew better. My doctors often said it was because I sometimes took my pill late or missed a day, but the spotting was always at the same time, regardless of when my pill timing was off. I was also diagnosed with "chronic cervicitis", but again, the timing was just too predictable for me to really accept that.

I have been using natural family planning since before I conceived my 7-year old with no real change in this cycle. Since I had my last child two years ago, I now have one week of spotting, one to two days of extremely heavy bleeding (I use a Diva Cup, which supposedly can hold the amount of the average woman's entire period and I fill it 2-3 times a day in those couple days), followed by a few more days of spotting.

When I had my last Pap, they did a D&C and an ultrasound to check for any abnormalities. All was clear. I was told it is virtually impossible to test progesterone and estrogen levels because they are so erratic even for a "normal" person. I have tried Emerita Progest progesterone cream to see if it would help, but I tend to forget to use it after a couple days.

There is a doctor near me who is supposed to be good at identifying and naturally treating hormone imbalances, but I just can't afford to see him right now. I am hoping the Whole30 will help bring balance without me having to supplement. My husband and I would like to have one more child, but I would like to have things in balance before I conceive.

Just wondering if this resonates with anyone else and what kind of advice/encouragement you might have.

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I can't necessary relate to the regular spotting and regular cycles, but I can relate to the hormonal imbalance.

In my experience, the doctors that tell you it's impossible to accurately test hormone levels are the ones that only know how to 'treat' it with hormonal birth control. I can't tell you how many turned me down when I asked to have them tested. I have endometriosis and I knew a hormonal imbalance was at least partially to blame and was determined to correct it. However, it was a challenge. One doctor even told me that if I didn't want a prescription for birth control, there was nothing she could do...

I finally found a doc that knows how to interpret hormone tests and prescribe bio-identical hormones & supplements to address them. If tested consistently (same time of day, same day of the cycle) you can most certainly recognize if you're high or low or out of balance. It's all about getting the proper ratio of hormones. Supplementing with bio-identicals, you can also test regularly to see how your levels are changing on them. On synthetic hormones, it's impossible to test as synthetics don't show up in your system. I've typically done blood tests, though I once did a 24-hour urine collection that revealed quite a bit. My insurance covered the blood tests and the urine test was a few hundred out of pocket. I find the bio-identical hormones are reasonably priced through my compounding pharmacy and are about the cost of a copay for a traditional pill from the pharmacy. So, if it comes down to it and you're still having issues after diet changes, there are some options out there.

Although hormone imbalances may play a big part in your issues, I can't help but wonder if your thyroid is at least partially to blame. Have you ever had more than your TSH tested? Even slight imbalances with the thyroid can cause total chaos with the sex hormones and cycles, though most doctors would deny it. For me, my cycles didn't become more regular and lighter until I got my thyroid properly treated. I also didn't start ovulating again until then. My TSH has been perfectly normal for 15+ years - it's the only thing doctors would test despite my symptoms - but when I finally found a doc to test my freeT3 levels, they were looooow. For those with Hashimoto's, an autoimmune disorder affecting the thyroid, going gluten free can make a huge impact, but for me, that's not the case so I find supplementing is the only thing that helps me.

In short, I highly recommend diet changes, but just know that for some people, it's not enough, at least not in the short term. It may be worth it to try diet changes, see how you feel and how your cycles change (if at all), and then determine what the next steps should be if you're still having issues.

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I did have my free T3 tested and it was also within normal limits. I still don't believe that my thyroid is functioning optimally though, based on my symptoms. I do have the doctor that compounds bio-identical hormones as a resource if a couple/few months of clean eating don't result in much change. By then, I'm sure I'll figure out the finances. :unsure:

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