Woman on coach with her mentrual calendar

When we think about the menstrual cycle and female reproductive hormones, we often limit our thinking to the ovaries and the uterus.  After all, those of us who went through high school were at a minimum imparted with the basic knowledge about these reproductive organs: the ovaries release an egg during ovulation and if its not fertilized by sperm, the uterine lining sheds every month, leading to menstruation.

Bada Bing Bada Boom…Sex Ed 101.

What we weren’t taught though, is that a woman’s menstrual cycle is considered her “5th Vital Sign”—meaning it acts as a measure of her vitality and overall health, in all stages of her life--from adolescence throughout adulthood.

Your menstrual cycle acts very much like a canary in the coal mine: an irregular menstrual cycle is frequently the first signal that there’s an imbalance somewhere else in the endocrine system.

It’s All Connected

Your menstrual cycle is not just regulated by your ovaries, it’s also influenced by your:

  • Hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain
  • Thyroid
  • Adrenal glands
  • Pancreas
  • Liver
  • Gut

Each of these organs and glands secrete their own unique hormones and work together to create balance in your body and sustain numerous functions necessary for you to live. Hormones are simply chemical messengers that communicate with our cells and with each other, and a disturbance in one can lead to a disturbance in another. By addressing one imbalance, we can often improve another.

Even so, many women spend years coping with symptoms like irregular or painful periods, heavy bleeding, fibroids, yeast infections or fatigue and depression that then develop into more serious health issues. These women often feel disconnected to their bodies and surrender to the mistaken belief that because they’re female they’re doomed to monthly suffering- becoming passive observers in a body that feels like it’s irrational, unruly and untrustworthy. When they seek answers, they’re frequently told their out-of-control body must be tamed by drugs or surgery.

A hysterectomy is the second most common surgery performed on women in the United States, with a c-section being #1.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

You can connect with your body and tap into its inner wisdom and rhythms, and you can bring your hormones into balance.

The First Step to Connecting with Your Body

In order to connect with your body, you first need to understand how it works—and you don’t need a medical degree to do so. Let’s start with the Menstrual Cycle, your 5th Vital Sign.

The Menstrual Cycle

DAYS 1-14: The Follicular Phase

The first full day of menstrual bleeding is considered Day 1 of a woman’s menstrual cycle, and days 1-14 are considered the follicular phase. During this phase, GnRH, or Gonadoatropin Releasing hormone is released from the Hypothalamus, signaling to the pituitary gland to release a hormone called FSH, or Follicle Stimulating Hormone. FSH is sent to the ovaries in slow pulses and stimulates the follicles of the ovaries to grow and prepare to release an egg. When the follicles grow, they make estrogen, and over the 14 days estrogen slowly increases.

Chart: Menstrual cycle and hormone level. Ovarian cycle: follicular and luteal phase

DAYS 14-28: The Luteal Phase

Right around Day 14, estrogen surges and the pituitary gland switches to releasing Luteinizing Hormone, or LH. The estrogen surge in turn causes a surge of LH, which triggers progesterone production to increase and estrogen production to decrease. Ovulation typically occurs around this time as well, as the LH surge prompts the ovary to release an egg around 18-36 hours later. If a woman becomes pregnant, progesterone will continue to be produced until the end of the 1st trimester when the placenta can make it on its own. If pregnancy does not occur, progesterone production ceases and bleeding begins—commencing menstruation.

When the Canary Sings: an irregular menstrual cycle

I mentioned multiple times that an imbalance in one part of the body can cause an imbalance in another. One example of this is your blood sugar, which is kept under control by your liver and your pancreas. High blood sugar can directly impact the body’s production of LH, the luteinizing hormone that is secreted during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Women with diabetes can experience secondary symptoms like long, irregular or inconsistent menstrual cycles, spotting between cycles or heavy blood flow, due to insulin and high blood sugar’s effects on LH, FSH, androgens and gonadotrophin levels. Nearly 30% of women with Type 2 Diabetes suffer from menstrual disturbances during their reproductive years.

Balancing blood sugar is just one way to improve these disturbances.

In addition to disorders within the endocrine system, menstrual irregularities can be brought on by stress, diet, lifestyle factors and our environment, which can lead to troubling symptoms indicating hormone imbalances, like estrogen dominance.

Reclaim Balance and Vitality

You don’t have to suffer.

You can learn to interpret the signals your body is sending you.

You can learn how to regulate your periods.

You can alleviate your PMS.

You can improve your fertility.

You can enhance your libido.

You can experience more energy and vitality, and learn tools and lifestyle shifts so you can flourish in a world that is designed to assault your endocrine system and leave you exhausted, disconnected and dysregulated.

It’s my job to partner with you and teach you how to do that, with an approach uniquely customized just for you. Learn more about my approach here, or to book a discovery call with myself or a member of my team, fill out my contact form.