Hands up if you’re learning anything from my three part series on How to Balance Hormones? Voila Part III. And if you remember WAY back to the start, I promised it would be about inflammation. Now when I say “inflammation” people think pain, redness, swelling, like when you get stung by an insect. And you’d be right. That’s the kind of thing we might notice on our skin or in our joints. But our bodies’ inflammatory responses are more complex than that.
Inflammation is part of our immune system. Our immune system has chemical messengers, which our bodies use to fight infection and more. Those messengers are also part of of our hormone system and they can negatively impact hormone health and menstrual cycles. It has a role in certain types of PCOS, it contributes to PMS and other symptoms. So it’s a good idea to reduce those inflammatory messengers to harmonise hormones.
Common Signs of Inflammation
So how might you know if you have inflammation?
Common signs include:-
- Joint pains
- Fatigue (that said fatigue can be caused by many factors, so don’t jump to any conclusions from this)
- Skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis
It’s possible to have blood tests for inflammation. Your doctor might test for CRP, ESR and thyroid antibodies (check any test results you have). They might also test for gluten antibodies. Of course, you can get tests privately too.
PMS and Inflammation
Inflammation plays a role in PMS. When progesterone falls away at the end of the luteal phase, we’re in a more potentially “inflammatory” state anyway as progesterone is anti-inflammatory. If you were already low on progesterone, you’ll likely have more inflammation. And inflammation throws progesterone production out of whack, so it becomes a very vicious cycle. Inflammation also sensitises oestrogen receptors making oestrogen even more “stimulating”. And as if that wasn’t enough it blocks the soothing and calming effects of neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA in the brain. All leading to sucky PMS or PMDD signs.
PCOS and Inflammation
I could write a whole essay on PCOS, but I just want to say that PCOS is not one condition and women don’t all suffer in the same way. Some PCOS doesn’t seem to be related to insulin-resistance or following hormonal contraception; it seems to be influenced by inflammation instead. Women living with inflammatory PCOS might notice the signs like unexplained fatigue, headaches, joint pain and skin conditions, as well as irregular periods and high androgens in any hormone tests.
Avoid Sources of Inflammation
To begin, I’d suggest avoiding the common sources of inflammation:-
- Inflammatory foods – sugar, alcohol, wheat/gluten grains, dairy, trans fats/hydrogenated fats. It’s good to avoid or restrict them heavily.
- Smoking – full of cadmium and other hormone-harming, inflammation causing chemicals. It’s best to quit.
- Environmental toxins – again packed with hormone-harmers. Think plastics, pesticides, fire retardants and many more.
- Bad gut bacteria
Tackling these factors may help reduce inflammation and any horrible symptoms, so boosting fertility and/or harmonising hormones.
So that’s it. The party’s over. That was the end of the whistle stop tour of the basics of hormone balancing.
It sounds pretty simple, but tough to do in practice. If you don’t want it to be over and need more information and some help putting all these steps into place for happier hormones and improved cycles, drop us a line about working with us.
We’d love to help you.