Hormone replacement therapy has a lot of benefits, but it doesn't always go smoothly. Even when it was working for a while, it can suddenly seem to stop. And when this happens, it can create a lot of confusion for you. This is when women not only start to experience insomnia, hot flashes and other common menopausal symptoms again, but also panic and anxiety.
You have a lot of your shoulders already. Women in general do. You may be taking care of your parents, still have a challenging career, have children who still need you and more. Now is not the time to feel shaky, uncertain and out of balance.
So why does hormone therapy stop working?
I speak to women all the time about their HRT not working anymore. Not only my clients, but I also am active on social media and offer free consultation calls, and this issue is one of the more common observations I make.
How it comes up in conversation is something like this; “I'm not absorbing my estrogen and now I'm taking a higher dose, but I feel worse. I'm anxious and having panic attacks. My hearts races, especially at night and I'm not sleeping at all or very little.”
Let me ask you a question, do you think that if you are not absorbing your estrogen that a higher dose is going to make a difference?
It doesn' seem likely to me, that by increasing the amount of estrogen you are prescribed is going to solve your inability to absorb and use it.
I'm not a doctor, I'm a certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, but I don't need to be to logically see that the issue is more likely to be something other than the dosage.
Hormones Don't Work In Isolation
Hormones are messengers. They are chemical messengers that relay instructions between your brain, your endocrine system and various organs and systems throughout your body. They support the coordination of complex processes such as your metabolism, your ability to reproduce, your response to threats, growth and repair, and more. And just like your gas and brake pedals in your car coordinating the amount of fuel and brakes being employed, your hormones work together to speed up or slow down various processes.
No single hormone controls any one specific process or system. No two hormones are solely responsible for coordinating any single process or system.
Your body is an amazing network on integrated systems, tissues and chemistry that work in concert together. Your body conducts this orchestra deftly and knows how to compensate as it strives to stay in homeostasis or balance.
But occasionally, your body does need some extra support. There can be dysfunction in a system that can create chaos and challenge the body's ability to maintain equilibrium. When you have symptoms, this is a result of a dysfunction that requires additional support.
Often the tendency is to address the symptom and not the actual cause of the dysfunction. Hormone therapy is most often addressing a symptom, not a cause. And if you ignore a cause for long enough, your body will tell you in new ways.
There Are Benefits For Taking Replacement Hormones
They can help relieve menopausal symptoms; hot flashes, sleep disturbance, vaginal dryness and prevent bone loss. This can reduce your overall stress, something we all need to strive for.
Some believe that you can and should be on hormone therapy for the remainder of your life once you reach menopause, and others believe the research is showing that only a few years is best. This is still up for debate, but one thing is for sure, hormone therapy alone will not solve dysfunction.
I'm not a researcher and this has not been my life's work, but my observations have led me to believe that your body is equipped to manage menopause and your post-menopausal body. Without bone loss, sleep problems, weight gain and the moodiness that many women expect to be normal at this stage of life.
A Case In Point
I'm going to use my own situation for this, because I am officially post-menopausal for over 20 years. I had a full hysterectomy to include my ovaries before I was 30. I was on hormone therapy for a couple of years and then my body started to reject it. I struggled with all the symptoms of menopause and I had wild mood swings. One moment I was calm and composed the next minute I would want to strangle you if you looked at me wrong. At the age of 32, I went off all hormones.
I'm 54 today, and I'm healthy, calm, sleep well at night and have strong bones.
I was diagnosed with osteopenia around the age of 4o, but I have been able to reverse that, and I don't take bone medication. Contrary to popular to belief you can rebuild your bone density.
I do admit I would like to lose weight, and it has been an issue for me lately. However, I have not been over weight this entire time, and I didn't gain weight for years after going off all hormone therapy. My current weight is not a result of my lack of estrogen or progesterone.
What Could Be The Reason For Your HRT To Stop Working
We're back to identifying the root cause, and it's not that your body has decided to produce less estrogen and progesterone. It has a good reason why it's not producing as much as it was, you're no longer fertile.
Your body also does continue to produce estrogen and progesterone, just at lower levels because you have less need for them. Though research has shown benefits for taking hormones, and I believe they have a place when applied skillfully, taking hormones for the sake of raising their levels alone is not going to correct the dysfunction.
There are seven primary root causes for hormones to stop working that I have found while working with women, from all over the world;
Diminished gut health; yeast and/or bacterial overgrowths, pathogen infections
Insufficient enzyme production (fat & protein) and nutritional deficiencies
High carbohydrate diet and unstable blood sugar
Inadequate sleep, lack of rest and poor energy management
Poor detoxification function and toxicity
Improper hormone regulation; Estrogen dominance – over weight, taking supplements (soy, flaxseed)
Trauma, Excessive stress (internal & external) and Adrenal Fatigue
Often women have 3 to 4 of these that are keeping them stuck. Lets take a look at one many rarely address, poor detoxification.
Your liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body. Its primary function it to filter your blood. Blood from both your heart and your intestinal track lead directly to the liver for filtering. During this process is recovers nutrients and filters out toxins and waste to include metabolized, or used, hormones.
If your liver is over-burdened and unable to process everything, it can become congested which can lead to your inability to handle and excrete excess and used hormones.
Hormones that are not properly metabolized or excreted can become highly toxic and can lead to hormone imbalance and numerous symptoms:
Weight gain, particularly around the abdomen and hips
Headaches / migraines
Low sex drive
If you're taking replacement hormones, and not excreting them, you are going to create an environment where there are going to be more mixed signals and symptoms such as hot flashes will be more likely.
Hot flashes can also occur because your liver creates a lot of heat when working hard. In order to cool off, it pulses the heat out into your body, creating a hot flash or resulting in night sweats.
If you are not absorbing your hormones, estrogen, do you think it might be possible that your body understands that you can't or shouldn't absorb more if your liver is congested and your detoxification pathway is dysfunctional?
You Are Your Own Expert
Your health providers have education, knowledge and experience you don't have, and you need to leverage them. However, you also need to be involved in your own care and be an active participant who evaluates whether something is working for you or not.
No one can know you like you can. You will never convey to anyone exactly how you are feeling, or responding and interacting with the world around you.
Your body is amazing and can do amazing things, if you support it and trust it. To support hormone balance, you want to get back to the basics and provide your body with the resources it needs, and the space it needs. You want to reduce stress internally as well as external, so your body can focus on healing and repairing processes.
This means you want to look deeper and broader than just estrogen and progesterone levels. You want to explore the seven areas mentioned earlier, and do your best to correct dysfunction.
This may mean you need to make some changes in your life, and though that is a simple statement, it's not always easy. Often, it's hard. Because it means you need to be an objective observer and be sincere with yourself when you are not treating yourself well.
It means you may need to examine your priorities and ensure you are your top priority.
If this resonates with you yet you're not sure how to identify your root causes or how to take the steps necessary to make changes you know you want to make, I invite you to schedule a Hormone Troubleshooting Session.
During our time together the focus on is identifying the most likely root cause(s) based on your history and current situation. Then together we'll develop a short-term and a long-term strategy for you to confirm our thought-process and to address your dysfunction in a way that works for you.
If you are curious to about what you can do, click on the button below and schedule your free session.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a person in your corner who can help you understand where to focus and what challenges you face, so you can finally address the real cause of your suffering?
P.S. You may also be interested in:
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