For some women, their monthly period is no big deal. For others, it’s a grueling journey through depression, anxiety, irritability, pain, and more. If you think premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is too awful to be natural, you’re right — PMS is a symptom of a hormone imbalance often caused by too much stress. This imbalance can signal imbalances with your thyroid function if you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, and managing hormone function is essential to managing Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Although a variety of factors can cause hormonal imbalances and PMS, one of the more common is low progesterone caused by long term chronic stress. Chronic stress plays a major role in triggering Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism flares. Managing the various factors that cause stress is vital to both PMS and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Low progesterone symptoms:
- Mood swings
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Crying easily
- Poor focus and concentration
- Frequent or irregular menstruation
- Low sex drive
How stress lowers progesterone when you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
Chronic stress causes pregnenolone steal, a situation that causes progesterone deficiency and hormonal imbalances. Pregnenolone is a precursor hormone used to make progesterone and the stress hormone cortisol.
The body can only make so much pregnenolone. This means that if stress is always high, it “steals” pregnenolone from progesterone to make cortisol in order to meet the demands of stress. This causes an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen.
This balance in turn causes spikes in inflammation that worsen symptoms of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and make it difficult to manage.
Factors that cause pregnenolone steal and that worsen Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
Progesterone cream use can further skew hormones. It’s better to address the causes of low progesterone, which is typically stress-induced pregnenolone steal. These are among the similar strategies one uses to manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Causes of pregnenolone steal and PMS include:
- Sugar and sweeteners, excess processed carbs — rice, pasta, bread, pastries, etc.
- Excess caffeine
- Food intolerances — gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, grains, etc.
- Digestive issues — bloating, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, leaky gut, pain, etc.
- Lack of sleep
- Inflammation — joint pain, chronic pain, skin rashes, brain fog, fatigue, etc.
- Autoimmune disease (such as Hashimoto’s)
- Overdoing it; over exercising
- Feeling constantly overwhelmed
- Poor nutrition
- Reverse pregnenolone steal to soothe PMS
Ways to reduce pregnenolone steal and better manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism include an anti-inflammatory diet, restoring gut health, and managing autoimmunity.
A variety of compounds can help soothe PMS, such as omega 3 fatty acids and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA—evening primrose oil, borage oil, or black currant oil.
Supporting serotonin, a brain chemical that promotes well-being, may help with PMS mood symptoms — tryptophan, 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe.
This is a broad overview. Ask my office for more advice on using natural therapies to alleviate PMS, support healthy hormones, and manage Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.