I get a lot of intolerable side effects from hormonal contraceptives, so I have been doing my best to get my body to produce proper hormones on its own. I was diagnosed with HPA axis dysfunction by a Lyme-literate functional medicine gynecologist in 2018 following 33-day salivary hormone testing for a complete panel of reproductive hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, pregnenolone, and some others). I'd already had several cortisol and thyroid panels done. Treatment focused on five things:
1. Moving the body - If you have PEM and cannot exercise, then start with massage and rebounding, then restorative yoga. Yoga in general is a great option for making sure circulation, stretching, and toning reaches every part of the body. Qi gong and tai chi also are good. Walking or something that gets the heart rate up is helpful as well - again, if you can tolerate cardio exercise.
2. Nutrition - No stimulants, including caffeine and sugar. No processed foods. Plenty of omega 3 fatty acids, healthy fats, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Regular bowel movements. Hydration.
3. Genuine stress management - Most of us can't modify our schedules to include fewer obligations, especially if we have children or jobs, so we must practice regular stress management concertedly. Every day, multiple times. For real. This step cannot be skipped. Meditation, breath exercises, tapping, mindfulness apps, tai chi, whatever works for you. Our nervous systems have to have this regularly in order to get out of fight-or-flight and produce hormones.
4. Adaptogenic herbs - This takes some trial and error to find the one that's right for you, but there are lots to try: ashwagandha, rhodiola, holy basil, eleuthero, etc.
5. Chaste tree berry (a.k.a. vitex) - This herb balances hormones and supports progesterone production, so it's especially helpful for estrogen dominance.
If doing those five things doesn't help enough, then she prescribed people topical compounded bioidentical hormones, dosed based on the person's hormone testing. She was adamant that people not guess about what they are low or high in, and to use extensive testing to determine dosages of each supplemented hormone.
My symptoms sounded like low cortisol and high estrogen, but testing showed I was making slightly high amounts of cortisol and almost no estrogen or progesterone! My body was using the cortisol to mimic the jobs of the reproductive hormones, leaving me feeling like I had low cortisol and high estrogen. If I had supplemented based on symptoms alone, then I would have taken measures to reduce my (almost nonexistent) estrogen and raise my already-high cortisol! Hormone systems are all connected, and don't always interact the ways we think. So for me, the long-term, detailed testing was important.
I am actually re-focusing on this stuff right now, as reproductive system symptoms have worsened again, so I'd be happy to hear anyone's further ideas about bolstering and balancing reproductive hormones.
My obgyn is getting older and I think he's just whatever about
these things and always says I'm fine which I'm not. My newer doctor was off her rocker when she looked at me and said I look young and healthy. She said I couldn't possibly be anywhere near menopause because I'm 30 years old even though I've had multiple pregnancies and I have lyme, co infections etc. Says my testosterone and estrogen should be fine because I'm healthy so she doesn't feel the need to test me since I've had pregnancies that means I should be fine .oh what a load lol!!! The things docs say is just like what else can I say to convince them then. Do you know what estrogen dominance looks and feels like by the way? I've heard of many people with bartonella actually bring this topic up bt I never really looked into it.