Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pondering Estrogens

I've been pondering something I've observed: Why does it seem that extraordinarily heavy periods are the rule these days? When I, in my tiny little world, am seeing a veritable epidemic of women from 13 years old on up to menopause with periods they describe as "over the top" - I have to wonder what's happening.

The medical term for a heavy menstrual period is "menorrhagia." There are a number of known causes you can read about on Mayoclinic.com or webmd and include things such as medications, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, low or high thyroid hormones, and other hormonal imbalances. Let me take that last one - hormonal imbalance.

I would argue that hormonal imbalance - in particular, the estrogen to progesterone balance - is the primary cause of menorrhagia. Yet there is a medical insanity afoot. The almost automatic treatment in conventional medicine is to use birth control pills. So, we have MD's pushing women/girls as young as 13 or 14 onto birth control pills to control their periods. Given what we've learned in the past 2-3 years about the devastating connection with breast cancer of estrogen hormone replacement in older women, why on EARTH is prescribing estrogen to younger women being used with such little scrutiny? My cynical answer would be that pharmaceutical representatives are practicing medicine, not real doctors!

The bigger underlying question about menorrhagia is why? Why is the menorrhagia occurring and what IS it that creates the imbalance? I have two theories, both of which can coexist simultaneously. The first is that the environment is filling up to a perhaps shocking level with "exogenous estrogens." This week there was the news report that many prescription drugs are turning up in samples of fish. Estrogens are being so heavily used for all kinds of things with humans, plants, and animals that it is not a stretch to think they are infiltrating much of what we drink and eat. Increased estrogen intake adds to what is being produced and creates an estrogen dominance effect that would account for the epidemic of menorrhagia.

The second theory is that, due again to the degradation of the environment and our heavy exposure to literally thousands of toxins, the ability of the liver to detoxify estrogens is vastly impaired. This would lead also to increased estrogen dominance as the body could not rid itself of the estrogen it had, causing the imbalance leading to menorrhagia.

Either of these theories would account for the CAUSE of hormone imbalance. This imbalance, incidently, can also be behind several of the other causes for menorrhagia listed, like: endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Both of these theoretical causes can be treated with natural approaches, which I'll cover in a later blog.