I wanted to conclude the last week of women’s hormones month with a discussion on PCOS, Endometriosis, and Infertility and what they all have in common.
Scientists have discovered that the usual cause for this condition of Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome is caused by:
- Insulin Resistance/Metabolic Disorder
- Excess Estrogen
- Genetics, due to mother’s health during pregnancy
There are several signs and symptoms for PCOS but what we want to talk about is how someone gets to this state of health.
Medical treatment is usually placing the patient on birth control pills, yet the problem for this form of treatment is, it does not fix the problem but just reduces the symptoms. As time goes by, the condition continues to get worse and a cascade of new symptoms begins to crop up, leading to hormonal issues during perimenopause and menopause. What we want to do is explain why this has occurred and how to reverse it yourself without having to rely on medication.
Typically, PCOS starts with irregular periods, they may have acne, an increase in body hair, abdominal fat, multiple cystic ovaries, and hormone irregularities. Yet, they have finally figured out what the cause of PCOS and here is the most common reasons for it.
It has been proven that dysregulated insulin acts on the ovaries releasing more of the male hormones, making it harder for the ovaries to release a mature egg causing more hormone issues and irregular cycles. Do you see the cyclical affect of blood sugar issues on these hormones?
Not every PCOS patient is obese, so we don’t want to mention diet as in losing weight. We want to mention diet as in regulating blood sugar and decreasing the inflammation in the body. If a PCOS patient is overweight, they will lose it when we address these issues. Yet, remember from the last lecture, fat converts into hormones, it is a hormone. If we do not lose the excess fat, then we will continue to produce the hormones that our body cannot use. The best way to change this, is by our diet and lifestyle. We don’t want to starve the body, but what we want to do is feed the body with proper nutrients to make our insulin work and our liver to filter out efficiently. In my weight loss blog and podcast, I wanted to emphasize that I am not pro-obesity. I understand it makes people mad, especially the “Dove” commercials. Body shape is different from obesity. It is important to understand that the excess white fat in the body becomes an endocrine gland and a toxin storage. If we have this excess fat, we are altering our hormones, heartrate, inflammation, high blood pressure, stress on the liver, and insulin function.
Obviously, I am anti-carbs. There are good carbs but in today’s society we rely too heavily on fast food, packaged, and instant food (i.e. bars and shakes). Many women are not getting the essential nutrients to make our hormones work properly, nor our insulin to function. We usually lack chromium, which is necessary for insulin regulation, and B vitamins, which are necessary for the energy of the body, as well as, our fat burning metabolism. If we don’t have these essential vitamin and minerals, then we will shut down our body’s abilities to make and use the proper hormones.
So, most women love their salads (which is healthy), but they coat it in high sugar, low-fat dressing. Ladies, we HAVE to have good fats! These low-fat diets have been a plot to hurt women. If you have not read my cholesterol blog, please do. Fat is so important in the development in our hormones. Cholesterol is necessary for our brain to function (this is why you get brain fog when you eat nothing but carbs), and the brain tells our glands what to do for hormone production. If a patient has no estrogen, we will see that the cholesterol is low. Cholesterol is also necessary for absorbing certain vitamins that make our hormones work properly.
You do have to remember that most cholesterol is made by the Liver. Don’t think all cholesterol is from diet. Diet helps the Liver function optimally to produce cholesterol and reduce excess hormones. Therefore, we want to be on a high/good fat diet and low carb diet. Dark green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables are so important to consume. Remember too, that cholesterol helps decrease inflammation in the body.
Most of the PCOS is due to lifestyle, as well as, causing an increase of inflammation in the body. It has been shown that if women decrease their inflammation, most hormone issues have been decreased and resolved on their own.
What causes this inflammation in women’s bodies? Stress is a big problem. Again, if you read my blog about the Adrenal glands, you can see how stress can lead to hormone imbalances. Stress begins in the family, work, or environment. It can lead to sugar dysregulation. The Cortisol goes up and affects the pituitary glands and this leads to miscommunication of your hormones for the ovaries and testes, and inflammation begins to appear due to the dysregulation of sugar. Don’t forget, we are wired but tired and our lack of sleep increases our insulin resistance and inflammation surges again. As stress continues, we have a process called Pregnenolone steal which robs our progesterone and over makes our estrogen and increases our cortisol. For the PCOS patient, the estrogen becomes dominant and it begins to turn into testosterone. At the same time, the cortisol is causing dysregulated insulin that allows androgens (male sex hormones) to be released from the ovaries leading to very high testosterone, high estrogen and very low progesterone. So, the medical community tries to treat with birth control pills, but if this pregnenolone steal continues (from stress), then it will dysregulate the liver and now the estrogen will become low, that periods now stop or almost stop.
Yet, let’s not stop here. Adrenal glands also make something called DHEA, which acts on fatty tissue. It will affect testosterone production. This subject can apply to men and their hormone issues, but today we are talking about women.
Endometriosis is caused by:
- Excess estrogen
- High inflammation
- Immune dysfunction
In Endometriosis cases, we have a tendency to look at just one hormone called, Estradiol. But as you will begin to learn, we want to look at all the hormones in the body and how they work together. So, as we have learned in past lectures, the Adrenal Glands can be the culprit for most of these hormone disorders. Remember, the Adrenal glands make estrogen as well. What seems to aggravate the adrenals glands? Stress. Is this not the same as PCOS? Yes, it can be the same pathway that causes the endometrial tissues to grow. Now, we know the adrenal glands can affect the pituitary gland. So, let’s go over the simple function of the glands and hormones. The pituitary gland makes FSH which goes to the ovaries to make a follicle, this leads to a spike in Estradiol which causes a peak in LH to begin ovulation, then estrogen will drop and progesterone will start.
What can go wrong to stop this normal function?
- Adrenal glands are stress and not communicating with the pituitary gland that releases FSH. Do I ovulate, do I not ovulate?
- The pituitary is so dysfunctional due to lack of communication or nutrients that it cannot signal to the ovaries what it needs to be done
- The immune system has become so depleted the ovaries are weak they can’t respond to the pituitaries requests
OK, where does endometriosis play into this scenario? Endometriosis is the overgrowth of endometrial tissue, but do you know that this tissue has been found in the lung, nasal mucosa, nervous system, abdomen, GI tract, lymph nodes, liver and the spleen? Even some men have been diagnosed with this endometrial growth in the GI tract. It is not just designated to the vaginal area!
How can this be? Because endometrial like tissue begins to grow outside the organ. This tissue contains estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. We need to address why this tissue is growing and why it is containing these hormones.
Here is the scary thing, over 40% of women have endometriosis and don’t even know it because they lack signs and symptoms. Some women have irregular periods and placed on hormone therapy, when it could actually be the first signs of endometrial issues. Some may say they have PMS and ladies, PMS is not normal! This is the first thing that something is off balance, from hormones to mineral depletion. Many have infertility issues (25-50%) that cannot be explained due to this condition. It is unfortunate that this diagnosis is becoming more prevalent in young women on the first menstrual cycle. So, how can we prevent or reverse this issue?
There are several different theories for this condition, but we want to talk about the cellular changes. There is a tissue we are born with that has the ability to change into reproductive tissue later in life. This tissue normally stays dormant after you develop your sex organ, yet something triggers it to regrow as reproductive tissue. Since we have discovered this tissue growth in men, there has been a correlation with high dose estrogen therapy usage. At this point we see a common denominator of over amount of estrogen stimulating these cells.
Here is the scary part, if a young mother carrying a baby is using estrogen-based products (makeup, sunscreen, shampoos, food, medication) this could alter this tissue leading it to continuously grow. Now, if the baby is born and we submit this child to the same estrogen-based chemicals it will continue this growth. What makes the problem worse for a woman, is when she goes through puberty to produce her own natural estrogen, we are throwing gas onto the fire and this could be why young women are experiencing endometriosis at an early age.
There is another issue. Enzymes. There is a particular enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone into estrogen. If this enzyme is too much or is not signaling correctly, then we can convert into too much estrogen leading to more endometrial conditions. Another enzyme is 17 beta hydroxysteroid and this will convert estradiol to estrone. If this enzyme stops working then you have the estradiol (estrogen) circulating in the body.
The more we have estrogen circulating through the body, the more the fibroids, tissue and cysts grow. That is because estrogen tells it to grow. Now, when progesterone shows up, it tells this tissue to mature. If they don’t, then it is shed and this is your period or bleeding. Yet, the tissue growth outside the vaginal wall is shedding and bleeding as well. So, if it sheds, where does it go? They began to float around the body, looking for another place to land and embed, making more lesions in the body.This process is all under the influence of estrogen and progesterone. Do you really think hormone therapy is the best course of treatment? You may feel better, but are you really fixing this issue?
Let’s try to fix the issue. A woman’s cycle should be normal length, free from pain/cramps, and no signs of emotional issues. When we have this, something is not functioning properly. We want to get back to the natural rhythm of a menstrual cycle. Many times, the reason for these conditions can be:
- Lack of proper nutrition: You are not getting the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for the communication of these hormones
- Blood sugar instability: Insulin Resistance/Metabolic Syndrome. Many women are in this state and don’t even know it.
- Dysbiosis: If your gut cannot absorb its nutrients, is constantly inflamed, and is leaking toxic chemicals into your blood system then we are dealing with a losing battle.
- Liver toxicity: I have said many times in my blog how important the liver is. If endometriosis is due to excess estrogen, the only way to get it out is through the liver. We must make sure we support and clean our liver at all times.
- Environmental toxins: We are exposed to so many new manmade chemicals that we did not have 80 years ago and look at the rise of new diseases, some not even when I went to school 20 years ago. These chemicals are hormone disrupters and mimic estrogen in the body. Please read my blog on Everyday Harmful Chemicals to get the list.
- Hormone support/balancing: If you have seen my blogs on how hormones work, we don’t want to replace the hormones but we want to support the glands that make the hormones and direct the hormones. Therefore, we use herbal supplementation. Herbs have known to balance the Adrenals, Hypothalamus, Pituitary, Pancreas, Thyroid, and Ovaries/Testes. Instead of adding hormones, let the glands make them and direct them.
Infertility should be a no brainer after reading the last two conditions. The commonality with all three are:
- Excess estrogen or estrogen dominance
- Sugar imbalances/ Insulin resistance: #1
- Liver toxicity
- Glandular communication is dysfunctional
- Inflammation: Diet, Outside chemicals, Leaky Gut
- Adrenal issues: Stress
Many infertility clinics in the Midwest refuse to do IV treatment until you have been on a three month “cleansing” diet. When I say this, it means changing your food to support your body, providing it herbal supplementation to reprogram your glands, giving acupuncture to facilitate healthy energy flow and decrease inflammation, and avoiding those outside chemicals that lead to generational health problems. This isn’t a shake and lose weight diet, so get this out of your head. This is a lifestyle change to get pregnant and to help support the baby’s growth and development so they can come into this world with a clean slate and no “hereditary” diseases.
You may not believe it, but many women have reversed all three of these conditions and have lived a symptom free life by changing their lifestyle along with their eating habits. I am not saying you can’t have a piece of cake, but we want to fill our body with all the good things that make it run efficiently. These women have completely transformed their lives and enjoy life now. We don’t have to live in pain or misery.
I never reveal the supplementation or herbs for treating these conditions. The worst thing to do is assume something is wrong. Hormones are so complicated and so many processes are involved, from glandular, to minerals, to vitamins, to enzymes. We want to know specifically how to treat. Therefore, we recommend the Saliva test for hormones and adrenal glands, blood work for thyroid, and mineral testing. To discover the reason for your PCOS, Endometriosis, and Infertility, it is best to come in for an evaluation and lab tests. We want you to take ownership of your health. Let us help you in this direction. Visit our website www.cahc.biz or drcheriejohnson.com or listen to our Podcast “The Common Sense Doctor” to learn more.
Listen to this week's podcast on PCOS, Endometriosis, and Infertility
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