Many women suffer in silence from hormonal imbalances, heavy, painful periods, stress and fatigue, pre-period mood swings, skin problems, and fatigue, often related to their menstrual cycles.

Many women intuitively feel all these symptoms are connected – and the evidence now tells us they are. It has to do with how our brains talk to our ovaries and body hormones.

Heavy, Painful, Irregular Periods Start in The Brain

The hypothalamus is the body’s master hormone control center. It is extremely sensitive to stress, stress hormones, changes in sleep, negative emotions, chemical residues in our food (e.g. xenoestrogens from plastics), and medications.

The hypothalamus sends messages to your ovaries, influencing female hormones as well as testosterone. The brain also talks to our thyroid and adrenal glands to instruct them on how much thyroid and stress hormone we need, which then feedback to impact our overall hormone balance and impact the women’s health symptoms outlined above.

All of these hormonal systems are connected on a brain level. For example, we now know that women who suffer from painful, heavy, irregular periods have differences in specific brain areas such as the prefrontal and left ventral posterior thalamus.


The Resilience Medicine Approach to Women’s Health

Diet
Supplements
Medication
mind-body
BioData + Habit Tracking

The Resilience medicine approach can be used to help balance hormones and improve women’s health symptoms, which often only partially respond to conventional drug therapy or women are unhappy with their current treatment options. Combining cannabinoids, diet and supplements, and mind-body techniques to calm stress can all dramatically improve symptoms related to women’s health concerns ranging from period problems and PMS to perimenopausal symptoms and give you back your life again, even for difficult to treat symptoms and conditions.

Estrogen Dominance

For some women’s health issues, strategies that can help reduce estrogen dominance, which can be associated with hormonal problems and women’s health symptoms, can play a role. Estrogen dominance can make you prone to carbohydrate cravings and weight gain. It may also make it harder to manage negative emotions in the second half of your menstrual cycle – leading to you feeling bloated, moody and grumpy. In this stage, too little progesterone combined with high stress can worsen PMS, PMDD and other period-related symptoms and wreak havoc during early perimenopause. Estrogen dominance also contributes to irregular cycles, the lack or absence of ovulation (egg release), fibroids and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).

Dietary Strategies

Many women can benefit from hormone balancing dietary strategies such as a:

  • The Resilience Medicine diet principles
  • Following a more keto style diet for some women with PCOS and metabolic syndrome may be helpful, which is a RM diet with lower carbohydrate intake and higher in healthy fats
  • High soluble fiber and Gluten Free especially if you suffer from PMS physical symptoms like bloating or gut symptoms. Fiber helps the body eliminate excess estrogen via the bowel.

Cannabinoids

  • CBD and cannabinoids-many women find these great tools for period pain and helping with the pain experienced in conditions such as endometriosis, where THC containing medical cannabis can help reduce pain.
  • Cannabinoids which may include both CBD wellness products and prescription medical cannabis with small amounts of THC, to help with perimenopausal symptoms and sleep dysfunction in combination with other approaches, including body identical HRT where appropriate

Supplements

Many women find nutraceuticals and botanical supplements can help, including:

  • Ashwagandha
  • Chasteberry
  • Vitamin D3
  • High Absorption Magnesium with calcium-higher doses are often needed (after seeing a doctor to check suitability) to get the amount of elemental magnesium needed to help relieve symptoms

Medication

Medications can also help, particularly:

  • Body Identical hormones for some women, using the lowest dose needed to control symptoms. Body identical progesterone, for example, may have lower risks than synthetic progesterone, so this is usually preferred when progesterone is necessary to add to body-identical estrogen therapy. Conjugated equine estrogens are generally not recommended as part of the RM approach.
  • in more detail here.

mind-body Tools

Any relaxation practice which can help reduce stress hormone levels over time can help with women’s hormone balance, especially in the second half (luteal phase) of the menstrual cycle. Some simple mind-body tools include:

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Compassion/loving-kindness meditation
  • specific women’s organ focused meditations using visualisation
  • Moving meditations like yoga and tai chi
  • Breath focused mini-meditation minutes throughout the day
  • Walking in nature
  • Body free movement to music connect us to our intuition, gets us out of our heads and into our bodies

BioData and Habit Tracking

You can try tracking what you try at different points in your cycle to see what works well at what times. For example, a calming meditation is often helpful in the second half of the menstrual cycle if you feel more stressed. Also, increasing the dose of CBD/cannabinoids the week before your period to help with PMS symptoms is something many women find helps them.

The RM App is a free tool developed over a decade of practice treating patients using a quality of life approach. It can help you track how you feel in the four main Resilience Medicine areas of mood, stress/anxiety, energy, and mental clarity.

“We have a long way to go in medicine in the domain of women’s rights and to see men and women as true equals. So many of my female patients tell me they feel they are often not taken seriously or dismissed, with painful nightmare periods taking years to be investigated.

It is a fact that there is a lack of research into women’s health issues, and it lags behind men’s health hugely.”

Dr Dani Gordon, Founder of Resilience Medicine