HORMONES. Let’s do this, friends.
For the past 26 years of my life, no one has been talking about hormones. Why is this?
Up until a few months ago, talking about hormones was basically like talking about bowel movements to most people. I personally am an open book (perhaps even too open). But there is really no such thing as TMI in my world. When we as a community don’t speak openly about things, it just makes us bottle even more things inside. And that doesn’t do anyone any good. I want to talk about things no one else is talking about and I want to talk about them with YOU.
So here it goes friends. Let’s chat a bit about hormones and a bit about my story with my hormones.
You learned from my body image story that I definitely have fluctuated with weight in my life. I have weighed a bit more than I do now and I have also weighed a bit less. But for the past 5 years or so I have been around this size (give or take a few lbs ya know). And for the first time in my entire life, I am finally comfortable and to be honest, loving my body.
I love my body for its oddly proportioned limbs to torso. I love my little nose and the freckles I get when I have had too much sun. I love that my legs are basically the same length as Jord’s. I have learned to love the flipping weird shaped feet I have and how my fingers are naturally crooked. I have learned to love and embrace the good, the bad and the weird.
But with all of this body love and positivity I am spreading and embracing, there is one thing that isn’t right.
I do not have my menstrual cycle. After going off birth control last April (yes, 13 months ago), I have not had a period. I was on and off the pill for pretty much 8 years of my life. It is one of those things I wish I could go back in time and listen to my mom and NOT go on it but I can’t sit here and blame myself, or even blame my doctor who claimed it would make all my horrible menstrual cramps and other symptoms go away.
Today there is much more awareness and information about being on the pill and its negative impacts it can have on our bodies. I am not going to get into that here because I believe it is a personal choice and I obviously am by no means a doctor. But I am very happy that more and more people are switching off the pill to regulate their cycles naturally.
When I went off the pill, I didn’t really notice I didn’t get a period until about June. Then I began going to acupuncture thinking that would do the trick, but after 3 months of going 1x a week I wasn’t seeing any results. No hormonal symptoms or anything.
It sounds silly but from September until about January I just kind of went along with the whole no period things. Didn’t really think about it much and just hoped it would come on its own. Then by the end of January I started to get pretty nervous and upset about my lack of menstrual cycle and started to do some research on it to see what I can do and who else is dealing with similar issues.
First up, start eating meat (which you can read more about here). Even though my blood work and levels were where they needed to be not eating meat, I felt I needed more nutrients from eating meat and animal protein. In fact when I got blood work last summer my estrogen and all the typical hormone levels we tested for were where they should be. But I strongly felt and still feel that eating meat is positively impacting my own body and hopefully helping in some way (I only eat hormone free, grass-fed, etc.)
Then I began reading more about herbs and different adaptogens that can help regulate hormones. I read Alisa Vitti’s book, Woman Code, and absorbed that info like a sponge. It took a few reads to understand but I highly recommend it. I quickly became infatuated with the female body and how different our hormones are than men. I still read that book and reference it weekly and talk about hormones with anyone that will listen. I went to Alisa’s event here in NYC and basically cried when I met her because of how much that book changed my life and perspective on my body. It taught me that a) I am not alone b) I knew nothing about my body c) I will find a way to regulate my hormones again and there is light at the end of the tunnel.
After dabbling with a few adaptogens and super-herbs, there are a few I incorporate into my life daily.
Maca root was the first adaptogen I started to take. I bought the capsules, powder and also discovered REBBL around the same time. REBBL is a brand you are likely familiar with now from the blog but they make a handful of super-herb elixirs and proteins with different adaptogens and more. I love their Dark Chocolate Protein, which has a blend of maca, ashwagandha and reishi mushrooms in it. Maca is used to enhance vitality, stamina and energy. It also helps to support a healthy libido and balance hormones. REBBL also has Maca Mocha and Maca Cold-Brew that have maca root in it too. They also source their maca root through a direct relationship with the growers. I have noticed a difference in energy levels for sure since incorporating maca into my diet and also have noticed hormonal symptoms and differences (at least for me). I use both the capsule and powder.
I have learned that high coristol levels can also negatively impact our hormones. AKA having high stress levels, which is something that I am SO guilty of. I have been a stress ball for as long as I can remember. In high school I used to get stress pains in my stomach and was stressed about getting into college. Then in college I was stressed about finding the perfect internship and job. Once I had a job I was stressed about making more money then I was fired from my job and the stress levels went through the roof. It wasn’t until about 6 months ago I really felt stress free for the first time in likely ten years. Needless to say, stress has definitely had an impact on my hormones. I turned to Ashwagandha (I use supplements) because it is a powerhouse of an adaptogen. It helps balance stress levels and enhance relaxation. It is important for enhancing vitality for all ages too. REBBL includes it in a variety of their beverages like Vanilla Spice Protein and Ashwagandha Chai.
Vitex is the most recent addition to my adapotegen/super-herb line up. I read about this in Alisa Vittis’ book and also when I was reading about low progesterone levels (mine was on lower side). Vitex has been used to support hormone production and balance. It does need to be taken consistently for at least six months some say to really see benefits. I am on month three so time will tell. I take the capsule form but they have drops too you can add to water.
These are the top three I focus on daily, but I am continuing to do research and learn more about what else I can do to help. Obviously don’t want to overload my body!
Finding products like REBBL that are made with the ingredients and super-herbs to support my body needs is a dream come true. It is amazing to see that companies out there want us to fuel our bodies with ingredients and adaptogens and they make it easier and more delicious for us. When I am traveling or know I won’t remember to take a supplement, being able to grab an Ashwagandha Chai or Reishi Chocolate from REBBL is a game changer. When I want the extra boost of turmeric, I drink their Golden Milk or Lemon Tart. All the flavors are flipping delicious, they taste indulgent and we are getting a nutritional boost.
I have been consistently taking Maca, Ashwagandha and Vitex since about February and while I still have not seen my period come back, I have had more hormonal symptoms than I have in the last 10 months prior. Think cramps, breast tenderness, PMS, migraines, etc. Granted those are not fun symptoms but it is telling me that something is brewing in there.
I also started going back to acupuncture in early April and was able to dive into my story a bit more with my acupuncturist (a different one than who I was seeing in the summer). It was really reassuring to hear that she did not feel I was too thin or needed to gain weight to get my period back, even though I have gained a healthy few pounds recently. I learned I was taking care of my body better than I ever had before by incorporating meat into my diet, taking my herb daily, stabilizing my blood sugar levels (Alisa Vitti talks about this), drinking bone broth and also taking my stress levels down and managing my cortisol levels. That is the most challenging for me, I know my cortisol levels are likely still high but running a business solo can obviously be stressful despite how amazing it is.
I have learned my pulse and color of my tongue (sounds funny, I know) is strong and the fact that I have had recent headaches, cramping, PMS-ing and other hormonal symptoms is a good sign. Next up I am trying to tell my body how it is a safe haven for my menstrual cycle and reciting positive affirmations daily about loving my body. I am priding myself for taking necessary steps towards feeling like a woman again.
It is scary to think about how many females out there do not have a period or a regular cycle and don’t worry about it. I have been there and now I shake my head looking back at how nieve I was thinking that being on the pill and having a period was actually real. Meanwhile having a period when on birth control is fake and not your actual period. I wish this was something that doctors spoke of when prescribing birth control to patients as a “solution”. I have still been offered various drugs to try and fix my lack of period and have been told it is “nothing to worry about”. Meanwhile I am over here having a straight up panic attack. At least the ashwagandha is calming me, ha!
There is a grey area between having PCOS and AH and I am in that area. My blood work comes back as okay and just progesterone is low. My ultrasounds show no sign of present cysts. Next time would be looking at my thyroid a bit deeper.
I am hopeful that I can figure out what is happening in my body and that I will regain my menstrual cycle back. I want to spread my story with each of you and learn from and lean on one another. I wish I had more solutions to share with you about what to do but I can at least share this and what I am doing now that will hopefully pay off in the end.
I am by no means an expert in this field but I am grateful, scared and excited to share a bit of this journey with you guys. And please do not take what I say as medical advice, this is my story and I am only sharing what things have worked for ME and what I have done so far. Don’t go drinking REBBL or taking super-herbs as medicine without doing your own research.
I’d love to hear if any of you have struggled with anything similar or if you have anything you recommend!
Thank you REBBL for sponsoring this post. It means so much to me to work with brands that I love and who support rachLmansfield!
Thank you Vanessa Joy for the amazing photos! I highly recommend her as a photographer to anyone!