Webcast Part 2 – Hormone and Nutrient Levels: Improving your Reproductive Health and Overall Vitality with Dr. Lana Asprey

preggersIn Part I of our video chat with Dr. Lana Asprey, we talked about how nutrition, chemicals, and stress affect your overall fertility and reproductive health. In this segment, we’ll focus on specific hormones, dangerous nutrient deficiencies, and what blood tests you should get to measure those hormones and nutrients.

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Table of contents:

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4:45 Follicle stimulating hormone
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is a hormone that regulates the development, growth, pubertal maturation, and reproductive processes of the body.

FSH is important because a spike in the hormone tells the follicle to release the egg. Otherwise, the egg would just stay attached to the follicle and not move. This can result in fluid buildup around the follicle to form really painful cysts or other complications. FSH imbalance is also associated with increased cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, as well as ovarian cancer.

6:55 Progesterone and cardiovascular disease
Synthetic progesterone is popular in many birth controls, making it an especially scrutinized hormone. Hormones in general are easily imbalanced by diet, stress, and toxins in our environment. Chemicals in the environment can be hormone disruptors, resulting in lower levels of progesterone, and it also depends on the person. Some women have naturally higher or lower progesterone.

Progesterone is also a precursor to cortisol. For those under huge amounts of stress, there will be more progesterone levels diverted into cortisol production, because your body is trying to help you manage the stress and too much cortisol can lead to cardiovascular disease.

9:40 Hormonal imbalance
Women are more susceptible to hormonal imbalances because women are the ones getting pregnant. Our monthly cycles see huge spikes in luteinizing hormone, FSH, estrogen, and progesterone, and all of these hormones have to work in a concerted, well-calibrated fashion.

The thyroid guides many of these processes in our bodies. For those with thyroid imbalances, it’s especially difficult to get pregnant because your thyroid is telling the rest of your hormones that it’s not time to host a child. Men don’t have this problem, so they’re hormones are more stable.

13:15 Cycle regulation
More than 30% of women experience dysfunction in their cycle. This is due to a hormonal imbalance and there are three main reasons for this.

One is heredity. To figure the possible genetic components, you need to test your hormones extensively during different times of the month to see how the cycle develops. You can then pinpoint the deficiency and, along with a practitioner, correct it with bioidentical hormones or even diet.

Diet can also affect the internal balance of your hormones. If you’re eating things that you’re sensitive or allergic to, it can create a lot of stress on your immune system and your body.

Lastly, if you suffer from chronic stress, or don’t get enough good-quality sleep, this may signal to your body that this isn’t a good time to be pregnant. Simplify your life, distress and decompress to provide a healthy environment for your baby.

16:05 Body fat percentage
Women who overtrain and experience low body fat can be too physically stressed to host a child. Physically and biochemically, our bodies are meant to go at a much slower pace. We’re amazingly adaptable, but when you exercise a lot, you’re telling your brain that you’re being chased by a tiger and you’re in danger. If you’re doing this every day for long periods of time, you’re in danger of losing enough body fat to seriously mess with hormone levels.

On the other side of the spectrum, obesity puts tremendous pressure on your joints and cardiovascular system, causing a lot of stress on your body. You will also produce huge amounts of estrogen. Too much estrogen may trick the body into thinking you’re already pregnant, reducing the chances of conception.

19:45 Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Twenty percent of women in the U.S. have PCOS, which can increase insulin resistance, bad cholesterol and triglycerides, and your chances of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Diet and exercise can definitely help minimize the repercussions of PCOS. Eating the right kinds of fats  and staying away from heavily processed foods will reduce inflammation.

27:30 Reproductive hormone abnormalities
Reproductive abnormalities can increase the incidence of cancer, including ovarian and uterine cancers. First and foremost, it’s important to know your genetic predisposition to these cancers. If you know you are at risk, then it’s important to keep tabs on estrogen and progesterone levels, especially as you grow older.

The other contributing factor is synthetic hormones. Some of cancers are fueled by estrogen, so if you have high levels of estrogen, it’s much more likely to trigger that cancer. Minimize synthetic hormones as much as possible. Bioidentical hormones are much less aggressive and better for your body.

Also look at your environment. Are you somehow contributing artificial estrogen, synthetic estrogens, or phytoestrogens that can cause hormone disruption and confuse the natural hormonal balance?

31:35 The elusive thyroid hormone
About 15 years ago, the scale on which thyroid is measure was shifted down a little bit. So, what used to be considered low function 15 years ago is now considered low-normal. This has led to an epidemic of hypothyroidism.

Women should have all their hormones measured, especially when they’re feeling good and energized, to create a baseline for their bodies. Every body is different, so it’s best to find the optimum range for you.

In addition, get your thyroid tested before you get pregnant, while you’re pregnant, and after, to make sure you’re recovering from the birth and not sliding into postpartum hypothyroidism. It’s normal to be tired, but not normal to run out of thyroid hormone.

Most doctors won’t order a comprehensive thyroid panel unless your TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) is off, but TSH can be normal and you can still suffer from a thyroid imbalance. When you’re sick enough for it to affect your everyday life, but not sick enough to get your doctor to order you a set of comprehensive panels, you may need WFX.

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The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.