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Monthly mayhem - how to tame your sex hormones!

With Libby Weaver

Monthly mayhem - how to tame your sex hormones!

Estrogen and progesterone are two of a woman's major sex (steroid) hormones and their interaction has the potential to make us happy or sad, vivacious or anxious, and our clothes looser or tighter. All that pressure on two little hormones! What a lot of women don't know is that your period doesn't have to be painful, uncomfortable and depressing. Read on to discover how you can turn your monthly mayhem into hormonal heaven.

Progesterone is a hormone that we all want bucket loads of forever. In our body, its actions are anti-anxiety, anti-depressive and it allows us to burn body fat as an energy source. Women make progesterone from their adrenal glands, which sit just on top of the kidneys, as well as from the corpus luteum, the crater that is left on the surface of the ovary following ovulation. For the first half of the menstrual cycle, estrogen is the dominant hormone, laying down the lining of the uterus. Ovulation takes place around day 14 of the cycle after which progesterone is designed to be the dominant hormone.

However, with the challenges and pace of many of our lives, the balance between estrogen and progesterone is easily disturbed, for it is also from the adrenal glands that we produce our stress hormones; predominantly adrenalin and cortisol. When this occurs, estrogen tends to dominate in the days (or week) leading up to menstruation creating havoc with how we feel and function. Bloating, fluid retention, sore and swollen tender breasts and mood swings are symptoms associated with estrogen dominance. It has been reported that over 90 percent of women in the Western world suffer from PMT. This is common but not normal.

While the adrenal glands are busy making stress hormones, adrenal production of progesterone is significantly reduced, making us sad and anxious with our clothes growing tighter. Often, our response to this is to go on a diet yet the way you've been eating may not have changed! Worrying about food sets our body up for more stress and no body fat loss, often making us feel like there is no answer to this challenge. And if we feel like there is no hope, the stress is even greater. You can see the vicious cycle into which we can fall.

Also known as estrogen dominance, low levels of progesterone lead us to lay down body fat in the typically female pattern... look out hips and thighs! And did I mention the PMT symptoms? Enough of the gloom though; how do you get some sanity back in the midst of hormonal anguish?

Small steps can create a large impact - here are my tips to help your hormones. There are many more practical solutions on offer in my new book Rushing Woman's Syndrome.

- Breathe diaphragmatically. This means, long slow breaths that make your belly expand. So any "activity" that encourages this, such as tai chi, meditation, yoga, pilates or simply 20 nourishing breaths before you get out of bed in the morning, will be beneficial.
- Tailoring your nutritional needs to your own biochemistry can make an enormous difference as some foods have the capacity to promote inflammation and worsen PMT symptoms.
- Promoting digestion and liver function makes a difference for many women; lemon juice in warm water first thing in the morning is a great start.
- Supporting yourself with essential fats, such as those found in fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, pecans as well as evening primrose oil can make a difference as can supplementing your diet with zinc, magnesium and/or vitamin B6. We all have our own individual nutritional needs and getting a Dr Libby-trained coach in this area can make an enormous difference.
- A number of herbs can be used to support the liver in the excretion of estrogen, rather than it's recycling and herbs that support adrenal function can also be of enormous benefit. Finding a practitioner and a modality that resonates with you can be a great start.

Contact the Dr Libby office for more information on (09) 5200089 or
For more information Rushing Woman's Syndrome is available at or at all leading bookstores.

If you suffer from PMT or just want to learn more about reaching optimal health Dr Libby Weavers favourite event the Essential Women's Health Weekend will be held at Ellerslie Event Centre Auckland on May 19 & 20, 2012.
For more information or to buy tickets please visit

(Broadcast: 9 Apr 2012)