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Old 08-02-2009, 08:26 AM   #1
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Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

I've had irregular periods since I was about 20. They used to be normal, but they went haywire. It's common for me to miss 1 or 2 periods at a time, and when they do come, it's any given time of the month. The gyno hasn't been concerned because I don't skip more than 2, but I read about low progesterone cases that sound identical to what I have: missed periods, dry skin, depression, insomnia. Got it tested and it came back normal. But there's estrogen, and a few other hormones. From what I read, it's tricky to test them because you have to be at a certain point in your cycle (and my cycle is crazy, so it's hard to tell where I am. I do chart it). But is this necessary? Could this just be a normal thing? Though hormones control menstruation, so it about has to be a hormonal problem. My thyroid tested normal.

I know it's normal for low estrogen to hit in menopause, but I'm 27! I know I could just go on birth contorl to straighten it out, but I want to find the root cause of this. I've thought all along I'm just depressed, but the fact that I have all of these symptoms means there could be a hormonal cause to my depression. Or maybe it's the depression affecting my hormones (though I take anti-depressants, so you'd think they work on this). What should I do? My doctor basically is a dud and my gyno is pretty much the same, though he suggested I come back in if I want to talk about it more (I've discussed this a little during my PAP smear).

 
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Old 08-03-2009, 06:38 AM   #2
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

lemonyaide,

You bring up some very important questions which deserve some answers. My first suggesstion would be to find a doctor who you do not classify as a "dud". You might want to consult an endocrinologist. You also need to find a good and caring ob/gyn, one who has some experience dealing with low hormone levels. Unfortunately, in order to boost your estogen level, you must begin to take a supplement that contains estrogen and that would be some form of birth control pill. I understand that you wish to find the reason why your estogen is low. Sometimes, answers to our health questions just are not there. I know, because I have been searching for answers to some of my health issues since December 2005 when I went from being very healthy and active to being able to just get out of bed and drag myself to work. I have been forced to compensate for my lack of energy and do my own research to help find a solution. I have been successful with some of my problems, but for the other I just am satisfied that I do not feel as bad as I did in December 2005.
I do have a great set of doctors who are willing to sit and listen to me and they also will order whatever test I request (within reason) so this really helps.
Discuss with an endocrinologist checking your pitutary gland or your adrendals-hormones are released from both these glands.
I hope that I have been of some help--good luck

 
Old 08-03-2009, 10:59 AM   #3
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

Shisslak, so you DO believe that I have low estrogen levels? Or is that just one of several things that could be wrong? Also, are there estrogen creams like the progesterone creams that are prescribed for low progesterone levels? Or are birth control pills the only option?

I've heard of estrogen supplements, but I think they're for menopausal women (I'm 27). I hate to be on bc pills because I started getting shortness of breath when I was on them before. And I made the mistke of quitting mid-pack which really threw me and could be responsible for my problems now (if I do have a hormone imbalance). Dangerous side effects rise sharply with age and at 27, I'm no spring chicken when it comes to reproductive matters.

Last edited by partlycloudy; 08-03-2009 at 11:08 AM.

 
Old 08-03-2009, 11:52 AM   #4
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

Were your progesterone levels checked via blood? I've always been taught that salivary levels give a better indicator of what is going on for hormones. Also, it definitely depends on where in your cycle you were. Progesterone levels should be taken on day 19, 20 or 21 of your cycle. You could very well be low in progesterone despite your test coming out normal. I agree that you should look for another doctor to help you out - I've had great luck with balancing my hormones with a Naturopathic Doctor. And if your depression isn't 100% under control, that could definitely be affecting things as well.

Good Luck!

 
Old 08-03-2009, 11:58 AM   #5
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

Shanna, yes I had a blood test. I was on day 27, I think, of my cycle (was just getting ready to start, but voila, never got a period). My levels were normal for that time period (I think it was a 3.4 or something). No, I'm not pregnant!

 
Old 08-05-2009, 09:02 PM   #6
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

I was about to ask the same question as Shannatoo, regarding your hormone test. I too was tested several times over for a few years via blood and always told my hormones were fine, yet i had a heap of 'mystery' symptoms and couldn't even fall pregnant, yet there was nothing wrong with me or my husband.

Things began occuring one by one. I used to always have regular periods, even if they were a little heavy, but always on time. Then suddenly i'd have spotting, then nothing for a while, then spotting, then nothing, then eventually i'd get my period. It felt as if the entire scenario stretch over a 2 - 3 month interval. Instead of getting a proper period each month it felt like every 3 months.

Then my hair began shedding and i was tired and unmotivated most of the time.

My GP kept telling me it was stress and my hormones were out of balance and to go on the pill. I did try 3 variaties of the pill and each one gave me worse side effects than the last so i refused to take them. I wanted to get to the bottom of the problem, but that's all doctors wanted to do, keep me on BC pills or antidepressants.

I then visited an Endocrinologist who ran the entire thyroid panel and simply told me nothing was wrong with me. 9 years later i found out that my thyroid had never been fine and i'd had issues all along (i'd kept all my old test results and shown them to my new doctor who confirmed i should have been medicated back in 1999). The problem is most doctors and Endo's will tell you your thyroid is fine as they only look at your TSH. They need to test your TSH, Free T3, Free T4 and Thyroid Antibodies. Just because your TSH is within normal range doesn't mean you dont have a thyroid problem, however most doctors refuse to take symptoms into account. When looking for a thyroid doctor, if they wont check the entire thyroid panel, give them a miss, if they don't take your symptoms into account, give them a miss, if they don't have 'targets', but only look at lab "ranges" give them a miss as they wont be of any benefit for your future well being. I learnt that the hard way!!

So 9 years later my new thyroid doctor also checks my other hormones via a saliva test. It works out that i have excess estrogen and low progesterone. Just because your periods are all over the place does not automatically mean you dont have enough estrogen. It's most often that there is excess. This means going on the pill can make matters worse and also why you need a good doctor with a 100% understanding of what is going on. A lot of the new pills are estrogen only. This is why it's important to know what type of BC pills your doctor is putting you on. You need to educate yourself as a patient, rather than simply accept whatever the doctor gives you.

With your hormone blood tests, did you get them done first thing in the morning? They aren't any good if you have them done late morning onwards. The reason most doctors don't believe in saliva testing is that they dont understand them, don't know how to interpret the results or how to medicate you. This is why most stick to a simple blood test. My ex-doctor never advised me what time of day or month to have my testing done and likely the reason my tests simply came back as "fine". My experience has also shown me that most doctors only look at lab "ranges". If you sit within the range then you must be fine, but this is simply garbage and the reason so many people are walking around sick.

I find it interesting that your doctor has put you on antidepressants yet isn't interested in getting to the bottom of the problem. There are way too many people on antidepressants when they don't even need them. They are not psychologically depressed, but merely not well due to the symptoms they are experiencing. It would be better to get to the bottom of things than apply bandaid sollutions.

A lot of the symptoms you listed can apply to excess estrogen and to being hypothyroid. Hypothyroid and adrenal fatigue are actually two symptoms of estrogen excess. If you look at a symptoms listing they share a lot of the same symptoms, as does Adrenal Fatigue due to too low/high cortisol levels. (cortisol is a hormone too)

Estrogen excess is such a big modern day problem and a link to breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in males. This is why my doctor is helping me lower my estrogen. I'm also avoiding foods containing soy as soy is estrogenic and it's found in virtually all processed foods today. It's often disguised as vegetable gum or vegetable oil and lecithin.

So first thing first would be to find a doctor who wants to help and not sweep things under the carpet. Get a full saliva hormone panel done eg: estrogens, progesterone, tostesterone, DHEA-s and Cortisol levels for your adrenal function.
Get the full thyroid panel blood test done in the morning. Also have a blood test to check your ferritin (iron stores), Vitamin D and B12.

I'm sure you know your body better than anyone and you know something is not right and it's making you feel not the best. It's good you have taken the first step to find help on here. There are some others on the hormone section of the board who are going through issues and they might also be able to give you some advice.

Good luck

 
Old 08-15-2009, 09:47 AM   #7
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

Well, it would be nice if I had all the money to get tons of test ran, but I simply don't. I got on a different insurance plan because it /supposedly/ pays for labwork, but now I find out after having several tests ran that it only covers certain ones and blah blah blah. So bottom line I have a $300 bill that I can't afford to pay and that was for mostly basic yearly labs like cholesterol. It would be nice to have a decent health insurance plan, but life isn't fair - at least not for me, it never is. There is no way I can afford to do anything else, at least not at this time. Thanks, anyway..

 
Old 08-17-2009, 11:37 PM   #8
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

I agree with Audrey-B, you probably have estrogen excess, but maybe, to be more precise, it's estrogen dominance (imbalance between estrogen and progesterone, while both may be within the lab range).

Maybe you could try and change some eating habits and lifestyle to avoid estrogen (especially xenoestrogens), and see if your symptoms go away. Often symptoms tell us more than lab results.

Last edited by peace4health; 08-17-2009 at 11:41 PM.

 
Old 08-19-2009, 01:04 AM   #9
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

Lemonyaide - i guess if you can't do further testing then peace4health's suggestion of diet change can be helpful with correcting estrogens. If you have excess estrogen then soy isn't good and soy is practically in most processed foods today so you really have to read labels on groceries.

Saturated fats are bad for estrogen levels too.

Early morning exercise is particularly good for healthy estrogen levels and for general well being.

If you are on birth control you need to check what type as it could also be affecting your hormones.

Eating and drinking healthy right through the day and having a healthy lifestyle helps our liver detox which in turn helps our liver remove dangerous excess estrogens and helping balance out your hormones too.

Other illnesses, such as thyroid conditions, are well known to affect our hormones.

Last edited by Mod-S4; 09-13-2009 at 05:35 AM. Reason: Off topic question removed.

 
Old 08-19-2009, 03:02 PM   #10
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

Well, I have a doctor's appointment scheduled for early next month (I see him regularly for depression), and I'm planning on keeping that. I'm thinking now that I could have PCOS or possibly ovarian cancer. I definitely feel like I have some kind of cysts or tumors because of the pressure I have on my ovaries/pelvic region. Other than that, it's like I'm having PMS all the time - I get all those symptoms, plus now I have the fun addition of acne. I NEVER break out, now I have zits all over. This is getting to be too much.

The consitpation/gas is worse than normal and that with the pressure and weight gain in my stomcah leads me to think it's either cysts or tumors. I want to get an ultrasound or pelvic exam done to see what's going on down there. I don't want to pay for it, but if I can at least do a payment plan, then I want to get this sorted out. I can't do a real job or live a normal life until I do.

All the estrogen dominance talk and whatever thyroid stuff has me totally confused and I don't think any doctor I've seen can orchestrate all that. I can go on birth control pills so maybe that will help balance the hormones, at least get me on a regular cycle. I've had the irregular periods for some time now and usually it doesn't bug me, but it's the CHRONIC PMS that has me going crazy. I don't know why my symptoms are getting worse. I suspect PCOS because I've talked to so many women that are going through what I'm going through. Though you'd think they'd see cysts through a PAP smear. I made an appt. with the gyno but I can't see him till late Sept. I guess the only thing I can do is see my family doctor and have him run some tests. What specifically do you think the best thing to suggest is? He seems clueless when it comes to hormonal issues. They really want gynos to handle that stuff - he's said he can't even prescribe the Pill b/c a gyno needs to chart my periods. So I don't know if he'll be much help, but maybe if he sees how desperate I am, and I have a plan, he'll go along.

 
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Old 08-19-2009, 03:14 PM   #11
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

Oh and I meant to add: So, just testing my estrogen levels won't give me any answers? It sounds like it's really complicated if there are several different hormones and they need to be tested at different times. But the thyroid panel WILL tell me if something's wrong? It sounds like if I do have excess estrogen, there aren't many solutions except adjusting diet. I've read about progesterone creams, but my progesterone came out as normal. It sounds like trying to find solutions is alot easier than this merry-go-round of testing. I don't trust any doctor to sort that out when I can't sort it out. In a way it would be a lot easier if I could hear that I have something tangible like PCOS or even cancer. At least then I'd know and there are more ways of dealing with these.

 
Old 08-19-2009, 10:41 PM   #12
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

Dear Lemonyaide, pls be careful with BC pills if they're estrogen-only, as they can make you feel worse, if you're estrogen dominant (which could be the case considering you're in constant PMS).

When/if you get your hormones tested, it'd be better to have a saliva not blood test.

Hope you find out soon what's wrong with you.

Hugs

 
Old 08-19-2009, 11:39 PM   #13
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

Lemonyaide - with your pelvic symptoms, constant PMS, acne (which you never had before), depression etc etc etc, definitely sounds like a hormonal imbalance and there could be a destinct possibility that you "could" be hypothyroid or on the way to being so.

As peace4health said, you should be VERY careful if you attempt to go on birth control as if it's an estrogen pill (the newer ones are often estrogen only) you will be adding hugely to your long list of problems.

You are right to get an internal AND external pelvic ultrasound to determine whether you have fibroids, cysts, or both.

It's difficult to get one doctor to deal with the lot, but if you have growths like fibroids and cysts they are normally related to hormonal imbalance. Removing these will ease part of your symptoms, but if the hormones stay out of balance then you are simply in the same boat and things like fibroids and cysts can come back.

Ovarian cysts are pretty much linked to testosterone excess as are PCOS and acne, moodiness, irritability, extreem cases can lead to loss of scalp hair too.

Fibroids are linked to excess estrogen as i mentioned before.

The higher testosterone levels are often symptoms of a low T3 thyroid hormone. So if your thyroid hormones are out, correcting them would lead to your testosterone self correcting.

I can understand it all being confusing for you, but in our body, things do not break down seperately or one at a time. It may look like they are all seperate issues, but they aren't. They are all interlinked and once one thing goes down, other things are dragged down too.

Unfortunately a lot of doctors simply don't know how to deal with more than one thing at a time. This is why there are so many people on healthboards attempting to make sense of their failing health. I probably mentioned that it took me 9 years to get help, but i didn't have the internet or know of this board. If i had had access to this board back then nothing would have held me back. Going through 9 years of hell was awful. This is why you need to learn as much as you can and then do something with the knowledge. If the doctor you are seeing now doesn't know anything but is willing to run with what you say then that might be a start of sorts, but eventually you will need a knowledgable doctor. While you are at it, get them to do a blood test to see how your Vitamin D and ferritin are. So many people with PMS, period issues, thyroid issues, hormone issues are low in those two things especially.

 
Old 08-19-2009, 11:46 PM   #14
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

Hi peace4health - i know what you mean by divorcing the iron pills. I'm still on them, am taking Ferro-Grad C and i also bought some black strap molases and took that for a while and i think it also additionally helped boos my figures. I have spent most of this year going up and down with my ferritin, but now it's back up to 89. I'm really pushing for that 100, but it's been a struggle.

My vitamin D has also been a struggle and now i'm up to 10,000IU a day. Did you have a problem with your Vit D? I can't believe how many people are low in this. Too many. My thyroid doctor was telling me how low Vit D levels affect our adrenal and our thyroid function too. It all appears to be linked together.

I'm still on my herbal mix from the naturopath and i take Vitex tablets seperately to help with my estrogen levels and PMS. It's working, but i'm waiting on my thyroid issues to settle a bit more and then my other hormones might follow and my cycles might stay normal without the need to take anything.

It's awful when your health goes down the toilet and there are so many things to fix after so many years of not knowing what was wrong. Frustrating!!

Good luck with your ferritin. I most definitely know how that is!!

 
Old 08-24-2009, 08:24 AM   #15
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Re: Do irregular periods always mean hormone imbalance?

I have just a couple more questions on this topic if anyone is still here. I do appreciate you taking time to give advice, even though I may not seem like it. It means a lot to me since I feel like I have no one in my corner with this. I'm just having a really tough time lately, both with my health and other things.

Would you recommend getting the thyroid panel done OR doing a progesterone/estrogen test? I'd like to know specifically if my estrogen is off, and see it in relation to prog, but I'd have to know exactly where I am in my cycle to get accurate results, right? I haven't gotten AF since June so that could be hard.

I've gotten Tcascade done. I'm not sure if that's the same as TSH - I've researched but can't find anything. Tests that point to hypothyroid are T4 and TSH from what I've read. If something is up with my thyroid, then this is something can be treated pretty easily, right? And it would put everything back in sync, like my cycles?

Is it possible to be estrogen dominant and have NO thyroid issues? I've read a lot about estrogens and xenoestrogens lately. I added fish oil back into my diet since I've read it can be really good for creating a balance. I was on it for awhile b/c of my dry skin but switched to evening primrose oil when I read about its being good for PMS. I hate to take them both at once esp. since I take antidepressants as well. Also, have any of you read about progesterone creams? When I google estrogen dominance, this always comes up. I hate to medicate myself before knowing what is wrong, but I honestly don't trust tests and doctors to get to the root of the problem esp. since hormonal testing can be very tricky and inaccurate if done at the wrong time. Thanks again for your help, ladies!!

 
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