Fertility and Pre-Conception Care
Many things can disrupt this fine balance, including stress, trauma, toxins, poor diet and lifestyle. This is addressed with botanical medicine, acupuncture, improving liver function as well as other therapies that may be necessary for the patient's individual needs.
When we look at hormonal health we look at the health of the following and any nutritional deficiencies that may impair their function:
The thyroid gland responds to the brain's release of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) and in turn produces Triiodothyronin (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). T4 is also converted to T3 in the tissues peripherally, the most active thyroid hormone. Thyroid function is dependant on iodine, tyrosine, selenium. Thyroid hormones regulate cellular metabolism of fats, protein and carbohydrates.
The adrenal glands produce hormones in response to stress. They produce corticosteroids such as cortisol and catecholamines such as adrenaline and noradrenaline, which signal your cells to upregulate metabolism for energy production. They affect kidney function through the secretion of Aldosterone and therefore affect blood pressure. They also produce androgens like Androstenedione, which is at the center of the complex pathways that lead to production of testosterone and estrogens. Chronic stress can lead to a state of "Adrenal Fatigue" or burnout. Being in a state of chronic stress means that high levels of cortisol can interfere with many functions in the body such as immune function, digestion, sleep and production of reproductive hormones like testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. When burnout occurs this can also lead to many of the same symptoms, including difficulty with symptoms during Menopause or Andropause, since the adrenals have to take over production of reproductive hormones at this time. Some nutrients that feed the adrenals are vitamin C, all the B vitamins (especially pantothenic acid and B6), magnesium, calcium and other trace minerals like zinc, manganese and selenium.
Reproductive System and Hormones
The ovaries and the testes produce the majority of reproductive steroid hormones, such as testosterone, estradiol, estrone and estriol, and progesterone. This is in response to neuropeptides in the brain such as Gonadotropin Releasing Hormone (GnRH) and Luteinising Hormone (LH) and Follicule Stimulating Hormone (FSH). Prolactin (for lactation) and Oxytocin (for contractions) are other proteins the brain uses for signalling reproductive tissue and organs. Through a complex web of signalling the functions of these hormones include the sperm production in men, and ovulation, menstruation, pregnancy, labour and lactation in women. This web is dependant on nutrient status, as well as the health and function of the adrenals and thyroid gland.Balancing Reproductive Hormones may be indicated for many situations such as in Menopause, Dysmenorrhea, Fertility, and conditions such as PCOS, Endometriosis and Uterine Fibroids. This is addressed with botanical medicine, acupuncture, improving liver function as well as other therapies that may be necessary for the patient's individual needs.
Pancreatic Function and Insulin
The islet cells of the pancreas are responsible for production of insulin. Insulin is important for transporting sugar into the cells for energy productions. In conditions like diabetes, PCOS and metabolic syndrome, the cells can become resistant to blood sugar. Often this is dependant on trace mineral status such as chromium, vanadium, zinc and antioxidants.
The pineal gland produces melatonin, which is responsible for our sleep wake cycles. It is stimulated by darkness to release melatonin and is inhibited by light. Melatonin has been shown to be a powerful antioxidant, with uses in high doses to treat cancer, and has been shown to be protective against neurodegeneration. Calcification (deposits being from calcium, flouride and phosphorus) of the pineal gland has been shown to be higher in Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.
Menopause is a natural end to a woman's fertile phase of life, resulting in hormone fluctuations around the time of menopause, and ultimate cessation of menstruation and ovulation.
It is important to honour and to support this time of life with botanical and nutritional medicine for relief of symptoms. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy may be indicated for relief of symptoms. Support for the adrenal glands is also very important before and during this time as well, since the adrenals have to take over reproductive hormone production when the ovaries no longer do.
Women tend to be the caregivers, who may reach a place of feeling depleted at this time, so it is important to nourish the body and the mind.
Screening for cardiovascular disease and declining bone health becomes increasingly important at this time as well.
Symptoms of menopause include the following:
Irregular bleeding around the time of menopause
Heart palpitations or change in heart rate
Anxiety and Irritability
Memory loss and difficulty concentrating
Pain with intercourse
Vaginal dryness, itching and thinning of the membranes
Urinary frequency, incontinence
Breast atrophy, tenderness, etc.