Hormones

Being Diagnosed With PCOS Changed My Life

I thought all my symptoms were a “normal” part of being a woman.

Here’s Why Some Women Get Pre-Period Depression

Sufferers of PDD experience profound feelings of sadness before their period.

Here’s How To Tackle Period Pimples

That time of the month is bad enough without adding period pimples to the mix. 

Male Birth Control Shot Scrapped After Guys Whinge Like Big Babies

Apparently men couldn’t hack the same side effects women have been putting up with for years.

I Ate My Placenta To Prevent Postpartum Depression

I didn’t give my placenta another thought until it splashed loudly in my toilet.

What Your Acne Really Reveals About Your Health

It’s what’s on the inside that matters most.

7 Signs You Have A Hormone Imbalance

Sometimes our hormones can get the better or us, and we’re not just talking about that time of the month. Did you know that low energy, increased fatigue and even unusual cravings can all stem from a hormone imbalance?

RELATED: How To Naturally Balance Your Hormones

If you are feeling under the weather without warning, your general practitioner will run a quick and easy test to determine the state of your hormones. In the meantime, watch out for these common signs:

Fatigue

Feeling unusually tired even after a good nights sleep? This could be more than just a lazy day, especially if your body and mind feel like they’re working over-drive.

Mood swings

While we all suffer from mood swings every once in a while, watch out for those which never seem to pass. If you do feel like they’re getting out of control, run yourself a warm bath and try to relax with some aromatherapy candles.

Insomnia

Trouble sleeping at night could have more to do with your hormones, rather than your mind. While it might feel impossible trying to get to sleep, a warm cup of chamomile tea will help to keep your body relaxed – try it!

Weight gain

A little extra weight gain can be a symptom of many other disorders such as an over-active thyroid, so make sure to document any odd weight patterns.

Acne

Watch out for those spots around your mouth, chin and just under the nose since they are usually a sign of your hormones acting up. Drinking more water and avoiding sugary foods is the best way to regulate your entire system from the inside out.

Joint pain

Although joint pain is also a major sign of an impending cold or flu, it is also one of the main symptoms of a hormone imbalance. Make sure to take it easy, and try to relax as much as you can.

PMS

Even though we all suffer from PMS in our own way, it is important to document any major shifts from the previous month. Cysts are easy enough to find with a simple ultrasound and could be the source of your pain.

Image via iStock

Why You’re Having Pregnancy Sex Dreams

A good friend of mine, who’s mere weeks away from giving birth to her second child, recently had a hilarious, X-rated dream about a handsome Indian man who skilfully pleasured her, then fed her pappadums. Win, win!

And, confession time: I too had many such pregnancy sex dreams during both of my pregnancies; I was a right hornbag, to quote Kath and Kim.

Related: 7 Tips To Make You Feel Amazing During Pregnancy

This is all good and well, until you wake up from such an erotic dream, only to have your husband ask you what you’ve been dreaming about, because you’ve been moaning and thrashing about in your sleep?! And it can be especially awkward if you’ve been having bizarre X-rated dreams about someone random in your life, like say the neighbour next door, or the local barista who so adeptly makes you your favourite daily coffee.

So, why do pregnant women have porn films going in their subconscious, when asleep?

Don’t panic, you’re not losing your mind: is it those crazy hormones – the bane of all pregnant ladies – to blame, yet again? Experts say yes, in part. And chillax – these pregnancy sex dreams are very, very common.

Your heightened hormones may well be the cause, dramatically increasing your libido. Or, maybe you’re not having as much sex with your husband as you’d like, now that there’s a massive baby bump in the way? Thus, your crazy sexual cravings are consuming you?

pregnancy, pregnancy sex, sex dreams

Of course, pregnant women’s dreams are more vivid and unusual when up the duff. In addition, experts say these dreams may reflect any anxiety and emotion you may be feeling about being pregnant.

What’s more, you often don’t sleep as soundly when pregnant, especially in the uncomfortable last few months before your EDD – not to mention the fact that you have to get up to pee all the frigging time – so, inevitably it’s more likely that you will remember your crazy, porn-star dreams.

One idea, and a nice way to make the most of your bizarre porno dreams while pregnant, is to keep a journal next to your bed, for when you can’t sleep, then share your crazy sex dreams with your partner. It could lead to deeper intimacy between the two of you at this tumultuous time of expecting a baby and turn him on, too.

Maybe just don’t mention the pappadums. Now, that’s just weird!

What do you think? Have you ever had pregnancy sex dreams?

Images via www.pixabay.com

Big Belly Blues

If your stomach is bigger than the rest of you and diet and exercise don’t help, it may not be a weight issue.

In Part 1, SheSaid looked at how poor digestion, gut flora imbalance and food intolerances could be why your belly is bulging. We look at other possibe reasons…

Hormones
Stubborn belly fat may be down to your hormonal make-up. Hormones never work in isolation and behave differently according to their synergy in your particular body.

For instance, the testosterone (“male” hormone) to oestrogen (“female” hormone) ratio is critical for women. Those with higher testosterone levels, such as sufferers of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), have thicker waists.

Cortisol is associated with stress, and more stress-reactive women release more cortisol and have higher amounts of belly fat whether they are slim or overweight.

Menopause is one of the key manifestations of how hormones literally shape our bodies. Menopausal women may not gain weight (though many do) but their shape changes as oestrogen/progesterone levels fall and testosterone, cortisol and insulin levels rise. This is usually reflected in more fat around the abdomen.

“When oestrogen starts to decline our bodies will hold tightly to the fat deposits and even lay down more fat from every available source in order to keep the hormone levels ‘normal’,” says natural therapist Jennifer Chalmers, of Sydney’s Phoenix Holistic Centre. This is particularly the case in areas that are oestrogen-specific: stomach, breasts and buttocks.

TIP: A good first step would be to visit a GP who may order a blood test to rule out any other cause. Then he or she may suggest seeing an endocrinologist or other appropriate medical or health specialist.

If menopause is a definitive factor, to combat declining oestrogen levels your diet should be high in phytoestrogens found in soy products, linseeds, fruits, vegetables, lentils, legumes and whole grains, says Jennifer Chalmers.

“Phytoestrogens provide just enough hormones to prevent excess fat being stored without producing the stronger effects of oestrogen,” she says.

Declining muscle mass as we age is another contributing factor.

“We burn more fat when we have muscle, because our metabolic rate increases as our muscle mass increases,” Jennifer says. “The body also secretes more hormone with more muscle mass.

“So weight-bearing exercise as well as moderate aerobic activity is necessary to shape the body and improve the metabolic rate, with a minimum of 30 minutes

Bad posture
If you don’t hold your body in proper alignment (and many people don’t know how, especially in our desk-bound, computer culture), it isn’t just unattractive but can make you and your belly look bigger.

One of the reasons for poor posture is lack of strength in the core (abdominal) muscles. Pilates is a method of exercising designed to help strengthen the core and improve posture, flexibility and muscle tone.

Says Pilates instructor Annie Robin of Balance Moves, in Sydney’s Bondi Beach: “It doesn’t matter how many ab crunches you do, it won’t give you a flatter stomach if you’re not holding your body the right way.”

TIP: “One of the core muscles (the tranversus abdominus) functions as an `internal corset’,” says Annie’s fellow instructor Margot McDonald. “It attaches on one side of the lower spine and wraps around the front to attach on the other side of the lower spine. When this muscle engages by virtue of correct posture it draws the belly inwards. It’s this core muscle that is responsible for reducing the waistline and giving you a flatter stomach.”

Stress
Cortisol is one of our main stress hormones, produced by the adrenal glands.

When we experience chronic stress – reasons vary from emotional difficulties to poor diet, pain or illness, job pressure and major life changes, to name some – the body is constantly churning out cortisol.

This triggers high insulin and high blood sugar, which cause everything from increased fat storage (especially around the mid-section, aka “belly fat”) to anxiety, insomnia, poor digestion, inflammation and lowered immunity.

TIP: Stress reduction techniques are as varied as there are individual personalities and needs. Yours might be exercise, meditating, having dedicated “me” time enjoying pursuits you love, having fun with good friends, a massage or seeking professional help. The important thing is to look for something that suits you and then make the time for it on a regular basis.

Poor sleep
Magazines are known to run crazy headlines like “lose weight while you sleep”, but maybe it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Prolonged lack of quality sleep, according to scientists, can play havoc with your weight and health.

This has a lot to do with our nightly hormones, notably ghrelin and leptin, explains Dr Michael Breus, author of Beauty Sleep.

“Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin,” Dr Breus says. “Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating. When you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin. More ghrelin plus less leptin equals weight gain. You are eating more, plus your metabolism is slower when you are sleep-deprived,” Breus says.

Sleep deprivation usually also leads to eating and drinking more of the wrong things for “comfort” and energy boosts while neglecting exercise. This not only leads to weight gain but bloating.

TIP: “On average, we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night,” says Dr Breus. “If you are getting this already, another half hour will not help you lose [5kg] but if you are a five-hour sleeper and start to sleep for seven hours a night, you will start dropping weight.”

Genetics
Some things are just meant to be – they’re in your DNA. Then, as metabolism slows with age, areas of your body that are pre-destined to carry more fat than others – such as the abdomen – will get fatter. Spot reduction isn’t possible with diet and exercise. Non-surgical fat reduction procedures may be the answer. And that’s a whole new story!

Read part 1 of How to Flatten a ‘Fat’ Belly here.