Do you feel sluggish, moody, and like you’re aging at record speed? It likely isn’t just that you’re aging, it’s your hormones are out of whack. The best thing about it? You can DO something about it! Read on to see my journey and how at 37 I feel better than I did in my 20s by taking care of my hormone health.
Table of Contents
What is Hormone Health?
Hormones are defined by the Cleveland Clinic as “chemicals that coordinate different functions in your body by carrying messages through your blood to your organs, skin, muscles and other tissues.’ They affect our whole bodies physically and mentally.
Hormone health goes beyond the typical sex hormones we think of being out of balance, such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, and also includes your adrenals, cortisol levels, blood sugar, sleep-wake cycle, growth and development, mood, and more. Hormones fluctuate throughout our lives and for women, throughout our monthly cycle as well as during and after pregnancy, and menopause.
Things that are affecting our hormone levels everyday include macronutrients, stress, detoxing, inflammation, muscle loss, and more.
The things that used to work for us when we were 22 before we had children aren’t going to work when we’re 35 after children, and it’s not our fault. The best part is we can do something about it and it doesn’t include surgery or pharmaceuticals with dangerous side effects.
As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I’ve had health problems since I was a child and once I was finally diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis at age 29, things started to make sense. Once I had done the research on my symptoms and requested the blood test which confirmed my diagnosis, I was able to move forward and find natural ways of healing, far beyond what a conventional doctor was able to do for me.
Since my diagnosis, I started feeling much better due to my nutritional interventions, however, after having children I knew something was off balance again and I needed further help. Conventional doctors told me that I was fine, I was just adjusting to being older and being a mom, but I knew there was more to it.
I knew my symptoms weren’t postpartum related since by the time I realized I needed more help my twins were 4 and my oldest was 6. My symptoms included a very sluggish mind, forgetting things, haziness, difficulty finding the words. This really concerned me since my mom was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease when she was 59 and I figure I may be at some point too.
I also was having significant hair loss, joint pain, daily headaches, and even started having migraines. I was having difficulty sleeping, waking up 3x overnight on average, having night sweats, and was constipated. I was also having such immense uterine pain for over half the month that it was hard to get out of bed 17 out of 30 days of the month which made life pretty rough. I had irregular periods that would be up to a week late or a few days early, I never knew what to expect. I became extremely irritable in the week leading up to my irregular period and would lash out while I was in immense physical pain and was unable to control my emotions. It was horrible and quite honestly, scary for all of us. I wrote more about these specific symptoms in a blog post about Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).
As I’ll get more into later in this post, I did go to my doctor regarding my PMDD and immense pain but the pelvic ultrasound came up normal as did other tests.
I knew something had to change and I had to find someone else to help me.
Hair Testing Mineral Analysis (HTMA)
HTMA is done by sending in several sections of hair taken at the base of the scalp to be tested for mineral imbalances. Hair taken right at the base of the scalp is a better indicator than blood because it shows minerals over time, not just at one given point in time.
Danielle and I met online through a women’s summit and I loved the idea of looking deeper than blood tests had. Once I got the test sent to my home, she went through how to collect the hair samples with my husband and I since it’s a two-person job. Once the results were in, we met virtually to go over a plan to get me back on track.
The plan included eating only organic foods, or at least as much as possible, switching to grass-fed or pasture-raised animal products, increasing cooked and raw vegetables in my diet, increasing protein intake, increasing fermented foods, and supplements to balance the minerals in my body.
Keep in mind, I’m already gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, have figured out other food sensitivities through an elimination diet. I don’t use fragrances, and don’t use traditional chemical cleaners or personal care products.
There were lifestyle changes including setting up a sleep routine, grounding for at least 10-15 minutes as often as possible, and exercise or strength training at least 3x a week. There were several pdfs that I got from Danie with recommended recipes, tips, and in depth analysis of my results. Below I’ve included a picture of the notebook paper that I wrote the basics on as I needed everything on one sheet before implementing.
I did most of the recommendations and took the supplements as well as lifestyle changes for months. Overall, it was all helping me a lot. My hair stopped falling out, my mood improved, my sleep improved somewhat, and I felt much healthier overall with more energy.
However, there was still the worsening PMDD symptoms including the debilitating pain, so I dug further.
Hormone Health Testing
A few months later, I met Eleanor Duelley at an online women’s summit where she spoke about the importance of balancing hormones and how there are tests and supplements that doctors aren’t trained in, but as a Board-Certified Nutritionist and Licensed Dietician Nutritionist, she is!
She introduced me to DUTCH testing (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones) which tests for hormones using four or five dried urine samples over a 24-hour period. This type of testing offers the most extensive profile of hormones, including sex and adrenal hormones, along with their metabolites. free cortisol, melatonin, and six organic acids are also tested.
I was a little skeptical at first as I was used to the typical blood test for everything but once I better understood the difference between blood tests and the DUTCH test, I was on board!
Pitstop – Doctor Appointment
While waiting for the results of the DUTCH test, I made an appointment with my doctor about my immense pelvic pain. I have a wonderful doctor who is very understanding and open to the research I conduct as well as alternative ways in which I have decided to improve my health.
In this case, I told her about my list of ongoing medical concerns, the DUTCH test, supplements, and asked her what her thoughts were. She was open and honest with me in saying that she isn’t trained in that but could refer me to an OBGYN for hormone testing and possible hormone replacement if needed. I declined as I didn’t want synthetic hormones and instead wanted to try natural supplements first.
She did order a pelvic ultrasound to rule out cystic fibroids on my ovaries which I’d had in the past, ovarian or uterine tumors, etc. The ultrasound showed no abnormalities, which is what I expected. I was glad to rule those things out at least. My doctor also ordered updated thyroid testing since I have Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism. Those tests also showed nothing out of the ordinary.
On with the DUTCH test results and starting supplements.
My DUTCH Test Results
My results indicate that there were a lot of things out of whack, which is common and needed to be addressed. The good thing is I finally had test results that showed my symptoms aren’t just in my head.
The results come as really interesting dials and graphs as you can see below. This first page shows that I’m high is Estradiol, very low in Progesterone, and high in Testosterone.
It also shows that I am hardly making any cortisol and don’t follow the typical wake-sleep pattern that most people do. This is why I feel so foggy all day everyday and like I never wake up.
It also shows that the tiny bit of cortisol I do make I use right away without knowing it.
Androgen and Progesterone Results
Below we see a more detailed view of my results. Progesterone is in the postmenopausal range, something I’m likely at least 15 years out from, and my body isn’t getting rid of, or methylating, hormones such as estrogen the way it should be.
This means I have estrogen dominance which is the primary root of most hormonal balances in women. Estrogen dominance fits my intense symptoms throughout half of the month including cysts, weight gain, migraines, heavy periods, irregular periods, menstrual acne, PMS symptoms, and pain…so much pain!
I already had done most of the things that are recommended to help rid my body of estrogen dominance such as less plastic, eating organic foods, less toxic and non-toxic personal care and cleaning products, no perfumes or fragrance, not drinking alcohol, and more.
What I need to do now was support detox pathways to get estrogen to leave my body when it isn’t needed. This includes taking a Methylation Support supplement every morning, green leavy veggies everyday, and POOPING.
POOP! It’s more important than you think!
Up until now, I didn’t know I was horribly constipated. It actually wasn’t until I started taking all the new supplements that I realized I had a HUGE problem. With supplements and lifestyle changes, my body started doing as it should in terms of methylation, trying to get all the excess stuff out, but it all got caught in my butt and caused new problems.
For as long as I remember I thought that pooping pebbles every other day or so was normal. NOPE! Turns out I, and everyone else, should be having at least one ‘sausage-like’ bowel movement everyday.
I hadn’t had one of those in…years. If ever.
Once I started getting my body to methylate and get rid of what it doesn’t need, make some cortisol so I no longer felt like a zombie everyday, and so on, I started to feel better overall but then I got hives. Head to toe hives every day for months. I stopped all the supplements but that didn’t help, just made me feel worse, so I got back on most of them. FYI: hives after starting supplements is NOT common, I just tend to have weird things happen to me.
Long story short, we realized after months of hives that the fact that I wasn’t pooping a 4 on the Bristol chart everyday was why I had hives. Once I started detoxing and pooping, the hives went away. Thank goodness!!
GI Map Test
My DUTCH test showed that I had an imbalance causing inflammation in the gut. This is common, especially in those with an autoimmune disease like me. Eleanor suggested I complete a GI Map Test which is basically pooping on a cardboard tray and mailing it in. I’ll spare you all the details but it was worth it.
Once I got the GI Map results from Eleanor and started on detox supplements which helped me poop THEN the hives stopped! It was amazing! I also started a supplement called Hist Reset which is helping reset the histamine in my body.
Turns out that on top of everything else, I also have histamine intolerance so now I’m on a low-histamine diet, on top of all my other restrictions, which has helped reduce overall inflammation within my body and make the hives disappear.
The GI Map test also showed that I have leaky gut and H. Pylori, which I figured all along since I read about it back in 2015 when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease. It also showed that despite being completely gluten free, gluten was causing significant inflammation within my body.
By this time, I had been strictly gluten-free for 8 years! How the world was gluten causing issues within me? We still don’t know for sure but I’ve gone back to making sure that everything I eat is certified gluten free, not just is free of gluten. I’ve also stopped touching the twins’ food which is full of gluten. I actually bought dishwashing gloves to use for when I have to touch their bread to make them sandwiches or their crackers.
Within a couple weeks of starting the detox supplements and no longer touching my twins’ food that contains gluten, I was pooping out toxins like a champ!! I could tell my inflammation was down to the point I lost 7 pounds. This was the FIRST time I’d lost weight since I quit breastfeeding the twins over 4 years ago, despite all my best efforts previously.
I’ve made many other changes as well such as training my body to not get up overnight to pee, thus helping me get more restorative sleep, eating leafy greens everyday, drinking more water, eating more protein including collagen peptides in my coffee, and all the other things I’ve mentioned above.
I’ve noticed many great improvements over the months since I took the DUTCH and GI-MAP tests as well as took the recommended supplements. I feel healthier overall, I have more energy, I still love coffee but don’t need it like I used to, and I crave healthier foods the more I eat them. My level of reproductive organs pain throughout the month has greatly decreased, which alone is a huge blessing. My skin is clearer than before, I can think more clearly, and I actually have decent bowel movements everyday for the first time in many years, maybe ever.
One thing I haven’t started is exercising. Previously I thought that I had to wear myself out and work up a sweat in order to lose weight but every time I did I ended up gaining weight. Now I know why. My adrenal glands and cortisol aren’t to the levels in which my body can handle and benefit from intense exercise. Instead, it just further wears me out and makes me overly hungry. I do lift light weights, go for walks, and do diastasis recti exercises from time to time but not with the hope of weigh loss, just toning and fitness.
I’ve had a several virtual appointments with Eleanor at this point between the DUTCH test results, GI-MAP results, appointments to discuss progress and adjust supplements as-needed, and the most recent being that of my updated DUTCH test.
About 7 months after the original DUTCH test I completed another one to see the progress made. I knew I was feeling better, significantly better, as I wasn’t having debilitating pain half of the month, I was sleeping through the night most nights, I didn’t have headaches or migraines as much, I wasn’t as lethargic as I’d been, and I was pooping, but we wanted to make sure we were headed in the right direction and see if any adjustments need to be made to supplements.
Updated testing showed that my methylation pathways are actually working now!! Excess estrogen is indeed leaving my body, my body is making a little more cortisol so I’m at least at the low range limit instead of below it.
As you can see below, on the left is my first DUTCH test in February and on the right is my latest DUTCH test in September.
Looking deeper, here is a picture of another page of results showing that my Methylation pathways are actually working now!! Everything still needs improvement so I’m still on supplements and working toward feeling even better. We’ll likely test again within the next several months to see if we need to adjust anything.
I’m extremely excited with the vast improvement in my symptoms from February when I first started working on my hormones with Eleanor to now.
- I no longer have immense uterine pain half of the month to the point I can’t get out of bed. I only have cramps a couple days before my period, like a normal person now.
- My cystic acne has disappeared.
- My periods are no longer irregular.
- I no longer have extremely heavy bleeding during my periods.
- I don’t have immense mood swings as much leading up to my period.
- I no longer have joint pain/inflammation.
- I no longer have daily headaches and frequent migraines.
- My overall mood and outlook on life has vastly improved.
- My body is on a poop schedule now where I actually have good poops instead of pebbles like I used to.
- I don’t wake up overnight to go to the bathroom.
The best thing about all of this, beyond all of the health improvements, is the feeling of empowerment I have after learning more about my body, hormones overall, and having Eleanor to work with moving forward. She’s so great, understanding, explains everything so well, and is such a wealth of knowledge I look forward to every call with her. Seriously.
I’m honored that Eleanor asked me onto her podcast to talk about my experience throughout the past year before working with her, while working with her, and now. We recorded the episode which I’ve linked here and below in the image.
Work with Eleanor
Eleanor offers 1:1 Hormone Testing and appointments using the DUTCH test and the GI-MAP test, if needed. I ended up doing the DUTCH test which showed the GI-MAP test would also be beneficial.
Learn more about Eleanor and her amazing programs below:
- Nourishing Nutrition by Eleanor Duelley
- Eleanor’s Hormone Programs
- Learn more about Eleanor
- Holistic Hormone Podcast
As a mom of identical twins and a son two years older, I have gained invaluable experience in the realm, and chaos, of parenting. With a Master's Degree and Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology, I spent years as a school psychologist, helping children navigate through their educational and emotional challenges. Now as a stay at home mom and professional blogger, I combine my areas of expertise to help you in your parenting journey.