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It's Not Me, It's My Hormones


Have you ever felt a little more than just sad before your period? Or suddenly feel more grumpy and annoyed with people around you?  Orlike you cannot get your work done, but don’t know why?

You are not crazy, and you are not alone.

Unfortunately, women’s health is largely misunderstood and underfunded - causing women’s health issues, like menstrual health, not to be taken seriously. What’s troubling about this, is that treating the more severe aspects of hormonal health for women can be a matter of life or death.  

You’ve heard of PMS, but have you heard of the more severe form — PMDD? Here’s everything you need to know about PMDD or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and how you can better understand your hormonal health even if you do not have PMDD. 

How might PMDD affect my mental health?

PMDD is a more severe form of PMS, and the cause of the illness is unknown. However, many women with PMDD report feeling suicidal, depressed, or deeply unlike their usual selves. PMDD can be an incredibly isolating experience. The intense mood swings, physical symptoms, and emotional turmoil may leave you feeling like no one understands what you're going through.

Symptoms of PMDD include:

  • Lasting irritability or anger that may affect other people
  • Feelings of sadness or despair, or even thoughts of suicide
  • Feelings of tension or anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings or crying often
  • Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
  • Trouble thinking or focusing
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Food cravings or binge eating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling out of control
  • Physical symptoms, such as cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and joint or muscle pain

(Ref: womenshealth.gov)

For many of us, these symptoms may seem like just part of the package when it comes to our menstrual cycles - but that doesn’t mean these symptoms don’t deserve our attention or shouldn’t be taken seriously. 


Your health matters, you matter.

If you find yourself going through a troubling time with your health or wellness, know that you aren’t alone and that your voice matters. We want to remind you that if you are struggling with your hormonal health, or nay ailment for that matter, you aren’t alone. Studies show that about 80% of women have experienced some form of hormonal imbalance

Remember that hormonal health issues can influence mental health. If you are experiencing mental health issues as a symptom of a hormonal issue, know that it’s not your fault, and feeling better is always a possibility. 

How can I support my hormonal health, even if I don’t experience PMDD?

The effect hormones have on women’s health isn’t always as severe as PMDD, they can be subtle. In the realm of health and wellness, hormonal health, particularly concerning women, can be largely undervalued. Hormones are pivotal in numerous bodily functions, influencing everything from mood and energy levels to metabolism and reproductive health. However, despite their significance, hormonal health remains poorly understood by many.

While it may feel like there is nothing you can do to heal your hormonal or feminine health, the good news is that there are plenty of actions you can take toward healing. 

Self-care can aid physical health, the more you manage your stress, the better your physical health can become. It is important to take steps to relax, decompress, and tune in with your inner world during these times.

Even if you do not experience symptoms of PMDD or another hormonal issue, there are steps you can take to help support your hormonal health, such as:

  • Changes in diet to increase protein and carbohydrates and decrease sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol
  • Regular exercise
  • Stress management with daily tools for emotional regulation and wellness 
  • Vitamin supplements (such as vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium)
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines

(Ref: John Hopkins Medicine

Another element of supporting your hormonal balance is simply knowing the various phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Knowing what to expect takes away the element of surprise. So the next time you find yourself craving a certain dish or hating the way you look out of nowhere, you might want to consider what phase of your cycle you are in. 

Four phases of the menstrual cycle

  • Menstrual Phase: This phase marks the start of the menstrual cycle, characterized by the shedding of the uterine lining (menstruation). Estrogen and progesterone levels are low during this time. During this time you might feel the need to take time for yourself, your energy may be low. Lots of rest is recommended during this time. 
  • Follicular Phase: Following menstruation, the follicular phase begins. The pituitary gland releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), stimulating the growth of ovarian follicles. Estrogen levels rise gradually, preparing the body for ovulation. During this phase, your energy levels rise. This is a great time to be more socially active, do challenging workouts, and put yourself out there. 
  • Ovulation: Midway through the menstrual cycle, usually around day 14 in a 28-day cycle, ovulation occurs. A surge in luteinizing hormone (LH) triggers the release of an egg from the ovary. Estrogen levels peak, while progesterone begins to rise. This phase is considered your “peak”, the high energy from follicular phase is at an all time high. Many report feeling and looking their best during ovulation. 
  • Luteal Phase: After ovulation, the luteal phase begins. The ruptured follicle transforms into a structure called the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone. Progesterone levels peak, preparing the uterus for the potential implantation of a fertilized egg. Luteal phase is when we wind down and prepare for the shedding of our uterine lining. We might feel a bit moodier, this is when “PMS” usually occurs. 

You aren’t alone, and you aren’t crazy.

If you are living with a hormonal imbalance or are struggling with your health, we want to affirm something: You are not crazy, and you are not alone. 

Living with hormonal issues can sometimes make you feel like you're losing control or like your body is betraying you. The mood swings, fatigue, irritability, and other symptoms can leave you questioning your sanity. But please know that what you're experiencing is real and rooted in physiological changes within your body.

Finding the right support and resources can make a world of difference in managing hormonal issues. Whether it's seeking guidance from a healthcare provider, joining a support group, or making lifestyle changes to support hormonal balance, know that there are options available to help you feel more like yourself again.

As you navigate the ups and downs of hormonal issues, be gentle with yourself. Practice self-care, prioritize your mental and physical health, and reach out for help when you need it. You deserve to feel empowered and in control of your health and well-being.


All the love, 

ITO

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