Okay so it’s obviously no secret that my hormones have been kind of bat shit crazy for the better half of the last year, I’m very open about it and I have kept you guys super informed about my journey because I know a ton of you have dealt with or are dealing with similar things and I want to be able to share my experience with you. If you’re not familiar with what’s going on for me, let me just sum it up for you in the quickest way possible - I came off of the pill 9 months ago (read about why here) after being on it for 7 years straight, my only reasoning was that I didn’t want to be putting synthetic hormones into my body anymore. When I came off the pill I knew that it wasn’t going to be an easy process to get my body back on track naturally but I never imaged it would be THIS hard. I’m 9 months into this whole crazy journey, sans a normal menstrual cycle and to be honest it has started to take a tole on me, I just feel like I have literally tried everything and nothing has worked up until this point so about 6 weeks ago I decided it was time to seek out actual professional help.
In July I went to my family doctor and demanded a blood test to test my cortisol as well as my estrogen and progesterone just so I would at least have an idea of where my levels where at, he didn’t really take me seriously and was hesitant but agreed. The test came back showing that I have extremely high cortisol (which I knew) and extremely low estrogen and progesterone (which I also knew) - okay cool so now that I had some answers and we could actually do something about this, right? Yeah I wish that was how the medical system worked.. Unfortunately for me, my lack of a cycle and my ridiculously high cortisol is not a priority for the medical system because it isn’t life threatening so my follow up with my doctor was scheduled for 3 weeks after my blood results came back. I’m sorry what?! Yeah no that was not happening, I was not going to wait another 3 weeks to even hear about what the next steps were and I was more than over the whole western medical system at this point so I decided to look for a naturopathic doctor to work with.
I FOUND AN AMAZING NATUROPATH
She is local to my area and the second that I met her for my initial consultation I knew that this was EXACTLY what I was supposed to be doing. Her and I just vibed so well, she has a very similar mindset to me and she is super down to earth and actually took my issues seriously which is 100x more than I can say my Western doctor. The first thing she did was ask me a million and one questions to try to get a better understanding of my diet, lifestyle, fitness and emotional habits and issues and if you follow me on instagram you’ll know that that appointment alone was a huge breakthrough for me because I realized that I hadn’t been prioritizing myself or my health for a long time and that there were a lot of things not serving me in my life anymore and that in order to actually allow my body to heal and get back on track I needed to make some serious changes (read more about that here) to my life first.
The next thing that she wanted to find out was at what times of the day was my body the most stressed (aka my cortisol the highest) and what was stressing my body out so much. We did a 4 point cortisol test which is basically a set of 4 tubes that you spit in throughout the day - when you wake up, before lunch, before dinner and before you go to sleep - then you freeze the tubes and send them off to a lab to be analyzed for your cortisol levels at all of those points throughout the day. In a healthy not chronically stressed body your cortisol should be high in the morning, dip around lunch time, come back up a little around dinner and then dip to it’s lowest point at bed time.
My naturopath also wanted to test me for any food intolerances (even minor ones), her reasoning for this was that if I did have any intolerances especially to foods that I was frequently consuming then that would be causing inflammation and forcing my body to have to put energy into fighting the inflammation instead of putting that energy into more important things like reproduction and my menstrual cycle. I have actually wanted to get a full food intolerance screening done for a while anyways because of my digestive issues so I was super excited to finally know what was going on in my body and which foods, if any, don’t work for me. The test itself is simple, it’s just a blood test but the protocol leading up to the test is what actually takes time. The test that I chose tests for over 200 different types of foods by testing the number of antigens your body has to the foods, well in order for your body to have antigens built up you have to consume EVERY SINGLE FOOD on the list in the span of the two weeks. Yeah I know.. Mind you you only have to consume a tiny bit of each food but it was still pretty challenging to get in the many different foods in that short of a time span, especially since I’m a total creature of habit and basically eat a variation of the same things every single day. But the test is not cheap so I was not going to cheat myself on any possible results and I managed to cross every food off the list!
I did both tests in the first week of August but they had to be sent to a lab in another province to be analyzed and the results take roughly 2 weeks but I was actually in Ottawa visiting my family when the results came back and they can’t give results over the phone so I had to wait even longer!
MY BREAKTHROUGH ON VACATION
I had planned this trip to visit my family in Ottawa for a week but when all of the shit with my relationship and my health hit the fan in the beginning of August I kind of just took it as a sign that I needed to go ASAP and stay for a little longer to just really focus on myself and try to allow my stress levels to come down. The day that I finished my tests I decided to change my flight on a whim to leave in 5 days, a week and a half earlier than I was supposed to. I knew that I was moving out the day I got back from my vacation so I basically had to pack for the vacation itself as well as pack my entire life up in the next 5 days. It was a lot and I questioned my decision about 1000 times but I knew in my heart that getting away and coming back to a clean slate was exactly what I needed.
While I was away I was able to actually just be. I didn’t set an alarm, I didn’t have to schedule myself, I didn’t have to give anything to anyone other than myself, I didn’t have to try to please anyone, I didn’t have to think about my relationship that just ended and I got to actually spend time with my family and be present in the moment without stressing over if I was doing “enough” in my day. My body was actually able to relax and let go of so much of the stress that I was holding on to, to the point where I actually HAD SIGNS OF A CYCLE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 8 MONTHS!!! The signs were light but they were there and to say that I was happy is beyond an understatement, I honestly cried you guys. If you told me 2 years ago that I would be crying in a bathroom over my period and not over the fact that my 6.5 year relationship just ended a month ago I would’ve called you insane but here we are.
It’s funny how life shifts your priorities to surprise you like that..
I had an appointment scheduled for the day after I got back from my trip. My results back for my cortisol test I was not surprised in the slightest. Basically my cortisol is extremely high all day long and doesn’t really dip at all until just before bed time, which is why I have no problem going to sleep at night but wake up feeling exhausted and run down usually hit a wall at around 3/4pm. Basically what this means is my adrenals are so fatigued and don’t know how to dip below a certain point so they keep my cortisol elevated until they literally have none left at the end of the day and then they let my cortisol dip. Her recommendations were pretty straight forward, no caffeine before 8am, coffee only 3-4x per week MAXIMUM and start meditating in the middle of the day around 3/4pm to try to calm my body down and promote that dip in cortisol that I should be having.
As for my food intolerance test, how the results work is there are three different ratings for intolerances, red, yellow and green. Red means that you are extremely intolerant to it and it affects your body on a systemic level, basically the inflammatory affects are actually noticeable and can manifest as stiff joints, sore muscles, congestion, watery eyes, headache, etc. The foods in the yellow section inflame your body on a less noticeable scale, they affect your nervous system, mood, cause fatigue, etc. and the green section are the foods you aren’t intolerant to at all. My results came back that I am only intolerant to 4 foods (thank god) which is actually very good because apparently most people come back with 25+ so I got extremely lucky! The only food in the red zone for me is rice of all kinds, I the yellow I had 3 foods; egg whites, Brazil nuts and brewers yeast (what they use in beer). The only thing I am kind of upset about are egg whites because I love eggs but c’est la vie, I only have to cut them out (and the other foods as well) for 3 months to test if I see any improvement in my health so it’s not the end of the world.
We went over everything and then she asked me if there was anything new that I needed to all her, she said she could tell I had something on my mind! Well yeah obviously, I literally could not wait to tell her about my potential cycle in Ottawa and her reaction was just as excited as mine was (remember how I told you she’s the best? point proven) she told me that we were going to count it as a legitimate period and start seed cycling based on that. I’m going to write a full blog post on seed cycling sometime in the next week but to sum it up it is basically the concept of taking certain seeds and oils during the 2 longest phases of your cycle (luteal and follicular) I have a blog post all about the different cycles if you’re interested in learning more about that (click here).
I have been implementing all of the things that I just listen for about 3 weeks now and if I were to get my period it would be coming sometime in the next two weeks but obviously Ib have no way of knowing if that is on the way or not at the moment. I’m just going t keep doing everything that she has told me to and everything that I was already doing on my own and stay positive!
My naturopath also recommended that I start going to acupuncture so I have been going 1-2x per week for 60 minutes for the last 6 weeks. We spend 30 minute treating my stomach and legs to try and release any tension and get the blood circulating better to draw blood towards my reproductive organs and then 30 minutes treating my back, shoulders and neck because I hold all of my stress in my neck and shoulders and honestly it has made a world of difference. My digestion is better, my body moves better, my chronic neck pain is gone and I honestly leave feeling more aligned mentally and physically every single time!
Okay I know that I just gave you a TON of different information and you basically know me and my body almost as well as I do now (ha ha). The main point that I want you guys to take away from this is to never take no for an answer, if you are dealing with anything health related and feel like you’re not being heard by your Western Doctor or specialists or your family or whoever then to quote a very intelligent source - drop it like it’s hot and FIND SOMEONE ELSE. You have the right to know what is going on in your body and you deserve to work with professionals and people in general who hear your concern and actually make the effort to help you. Don’t ever give up, there is always more that can be done.
xo - LU