By: Lauren Rosenblume: Nutritionist & Integrative Health Coach
I know what you’re thinking… How can this be true? How can nearly half of women have a hormone imbalance? More importantly, do I have one?
When I first read that stat, I started asking around and realized almost every woman in my life was navigating health issues. We (including myself here) were constantly drained, struggling with weight, and navigating weird cycle patterns.
I now know hormone issues affect all aspects of life. I’m writing this article to share the major shift that led me to reverse my hormone issue. Hormone issues can manifest in a number of confusing symptoms:
- Unexplained weight fluctuations.
- Constant Fatigue.
- Strange or non-existant cycle patterns.
- Digestive Issues: Diarrhea or constipation. Gas and bloating.
- Numbness and tingling in your hands.
- Higher-than-normal blood cholesterol levels.
- Depression or anxiety.
I’m going to tell you something your doctor likely won’t. Not because doctors are evil, not because there’s a giant healthcare conspiracy. Doctors won’t tell you this because conventional medicine considers health issues incurable if there’s no pill for it. It’s just how they are trained.
In 2017, I was diagnosed with a severe hormone imbalance which I have since completely reversed. I’ve also witnessed countless women do it through my work at Wisdom. I now know my hormone imbalance was caused by a long history of medication use; however, there can be many causes.
When you balance your hormones, weird health issues you thought were “normal” often disappear, like letting go of a heavy piece of luggage.
The diverse symptoms of hormone imbalances are why it’s so hard for conventional medicine to treat. Hormones are your body’s communication system, they are responsible for almost everything happening in your body. This is why you can’t treat it by looking at the symptoms; you’ve got to go a level deeper into the root causes.
Most conversations with doctors about hormone issues go something like this:
You: “I’m tired all the time, my digestion feels like a furnace, and my cycle is going nuts.”
Doctor: “That’s normal. There’s not much we can do about it. However, this pill might help.”
You: “Isn’t that the pill that got me here in the first place?”
Doctor: “This is all we’ve got. See you in 6 months.”
I started birth control at age 17. I remember feeling empowered by the pill, it was one of the first choices I had made for my body on my own, to me a symbol of a strong, independent woman.
A year later, I switched to an IUD and quickly saw my periods disappear. Initially, I saw it as a cause to celebrate! Not having to deal with a period initially felt like a huge score! For the next decade, I didn’t think much about it until my health issues started to pile up…
I have always watched my health, and at the time I felt like I was doing everything right. I watched what I ate, I was very active, and my stress was moderate. But I couldn’t figure out why I was suddenly gaining weight. I had a new pouch of lower belly fat that wouldn’t go away. Despite all of the “self-love” work I was doing to accept my weight unconditionally, I knew intuitively there was a deeper problem underneath the hood. My face started breaking out, which hadn’t happened since my teens. I tried 3 different prescriptions from my dermatologist… all of which irritated my skin, making it red and dry. Worst of all, I had thick hair growth everywhere, which I was waxing off as often as possible. Oh, and I was deeply anxious, which at the time I dismissed. Doesn’t everyone?
I started hopping from doctor to doctor looking for answers. I saw a primary care doctor, an endocrinologist, and a dermatologist. Every doctor I visited felt like starting over entirely. Every one of them reassured me that I was healthy. Actually, my primary care doctor said (verbatim) I was “the healthiest patient I’ve seen in weeks.” I thought to myself, How could you know whether or not I’m healthy when you only spent 10 minutes with me? All you did was measure my weight and asked me a handful of unpersonalized questions?
My primary care doctor casually gave me a PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) diagnosis without any tests and put me on a prescription.
So I left the cycles of American medicine and turned to the world’s most famous doctor: Dr. Google. Spoiler alert – bad idea. Everything I read seemed to contradict everything else, and I ended up more confused than ever. After cycling through this for almost a year, I finally decided to take my health into my own hands. I started reading books on hormones and holistic health (I highly recommend WomanCode by Alisa Vitti). I came across an exciting new branch of holistic medicine called Functional Medicine. Functional medicine doctors use advanced diagnostic testing and an evidence-based approach to find the root cause of health issues. They use lifestyle treatments before medications, which appealed to me. I googled a Functional Medicine Doctor and found one near me in California I had no idea what I was signing up for but knew that what I had been doing was NOT working. I needed to try something different.
After my first appointment with my functional medicine doctor, everything changed.
Miraculously, my doctor spent a full hour with me. She did the most in-depth health analysis I’d ever received by far, before she even saw me. I was introduced to something that has changed my life forever: functional medicine testing. She introduced me to a variety of tests my primary care doctor never brought up. I was given a blood test, a couple of at-home digestive test kits, and a blood sugar monitor to explore the possible causes of my symptoms.
My functional medicine doctor quickly used my results to disprove my original diagnoses, which explained why the pharmaceuticals weren’t working. From all the tests, one thing was clear: my hormones were out of balance, and I needed to make some changes to rebalance them.
Over the next 6 months, my functional medicine doctor helped me explore and fine-tune various lifestyle treatments. I was surprised that nothing she suggested was an expensive, “cutting-edge” treatment. She was able to articulate how the small, simple details of what I was eating and certain habits I picked up were destroying my delicate hormone balance. These were centered around diet, nutritional supplements, and lifestyle changes. I had tried all this in the past, but the doctor helped bring me into new levels of nuance that ended up making all the difference. I saw major improvements in my energy and mood, but (plot twist!) when we retested my hormones, they were still wildly out of balance.
My doctor helped me realize my long history of birth control trained a hormone disruption in my system, and we needed to reverse the damage. She held my hand through a detox protocol in preparation for possible PBCS (post-birth control syndrome). I started menstrual herbs, supported my adrenals and thyroid, managed my cortisol (stress hormone) levels, balanced my blood sugar, started naturally tracking my cycle, switched to non-toxic skincare, and healed my gut.
When we went for the third and final test, I felt so good I almost didn’t even need to look at the results. I was elated to find that I had indeed reversed my hormone imbalance.
“I never would have navigated the nuance required to balance my hormones without the functional data and professional insight from my Functional Doctor.
My healing is an ongoing journey, and the possibility of hormone issues always looms. I now have the tools to navigate these issues on my own. I still see my functional doctor every couple of months through Wisdom, and I now I feel truly empowered in my health.
Today, I finally feel energized, less bloated, and confident in my glowy (and pain-free) skin. I have a much deeper understanding of my body and what it uniquely needs to thrive. And, when I periodically complete follow-up testing, my hormone levels are all in normal ranges.
I know now that I deserve to have a doctor who…
- Wants me to feel better than “just fine”.
- Advocates for me and feels like a true partner.
- Believes me when I say something feels “off” or uncomfortable.
- Takes time to know me on a personal level.
- Investigates my symptoms to uncover the root cause.
- Personalizes my treatment plan.
- Finds solutions that go beyond pharmaceutical medication.
If you’re struggling with confusing women’s health issues and aren’t finding help from conventional medicine, I suggest you start where I did with a functional medicine doctor.
You can get your initial functional doctor appointment with a women’s health specialist at Wisdom for just $125 below.