Treating Imbalances in Girls
by David L Pollack
Many young girls struggle with varieties of hormone imbalances. For a whole host of reasons, some girls around 12 to 13 years old can sometimes start making too much testosterone, the male hormone. Both men and women make testosterone and estrogen, but in a far skewed balance; males make significantly more testosterone than estrogen, and females vice-versa. In fact, estrogen begins as testosterone in women before converted by the ovaries (~85 percent) and adrenal glands (~15 percent).
For some girls, this chemical conversion doesn’t occur the way it should, and they end up making too much testosterone and not enough estrogen. This results in a host of possible symptoms and issues. Often the menstrual cycles are abnormal—either too heavy or barely present. They can also be painful and clotted. Emotions can be all over the place; many complain of anxiety, depression, even anger outbursts. Many girls have unflattering hair growth—dark hair on the face, chin, arms and legs. Often there is weight gain. Many of these girls end up with a diagnosis of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which as the name suggests, presents with cyst growth on the ovaries, resulting in hormonal imbalances. Cysts may be present in other organs as well, such as the liver, thyroid and less often the kidney.
Medically, PCOS is often treated with hormones in the form of birth control and sometimes the drug Metformin as there is a relationship to blood sugar issues. But many girls end up unhappy with the results, frustrated that little to nothing has changed. Although commonly practiced, forcibly altering an adolescent’s developing hormone balance might not be the for the best in the long run. Quite a few tomboyish girls visit their doctors at a younger age, but later, as their hormones balance naturally, start identifying more with their feminine attributes all on their own.
Instead of artificially messing with the body’s hormone levels, a better practice is to find ways to help the multiple systems involved in hormone production and maintenance to normalize their functions so they can do what they are designed to do. One such system is the digestive system.
Many girls seeking help for PCOS often complain of digestive problems in addition to displaying symptoms of hormone imbalance. Studies have shown that women with PCOS have a prevalence for dysbiosis—an imbalance in the ratio of good and harmful gut bacteria—and less diverse gut bacteria than woman without PCOS. Rebuilding the digestive tract by removing foods that feed harmful bacteria and cause inflammation, introducing plenty of prebiotic foods that feed beneficial bacteria, and encouraging healthful practices, such as getting enough sleep and exercise and staying hydrated, can often assist the liver or kidney systems to shrink the cysts.
Healing is possible; it can often happen faster than people think.