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Energy, Fatigue, and Sex Hormones

Sex hormones influence your energy, sleep, motivation and drive. Estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone are all big factors in how you feel on a daily basis.

Sex hormones are responsible for so much more than just sexual function, and when they’re off balance we see far-reaching health consequences. Sex hormone balance affects energy level, sleep quality, strength, confidence, motivation, drive, and of course all the symptoms and risks that surround hormone balance. So let’s go through the sex hormones one by one as they relate to energy and give a few tips for balancing each.

Estrogen and Energy

Estrogen plays a role in almost all aspects of energy and metabolism. It is well known to make both women and men feel more energetic, more confident, sexier, and keep them slimmer. Estrogen works in the hypothalamus to reduce food cravings and increase thermogenic fat burning. It also works in peripheral tissues to regulate insulin sensitivity, fat distribution, and thermogenesis. Oddly, men are more susceptible to metabolic disease secondary to estrogen imbalance than women are.

Excess estrogens, however, can push people too far, slowing metabolism, promoting fat storage, and causing gross hormone imbalance. In modern society it is far more likely for adults to be estrogen dominant, than it is to be estrogen deficient.

Estrogen dominance, as this imbalance is called, can come from your own genetics and hormone production, especially in situations in which there is a complex hormone condition like endometriosis or PCOS. More often, it comes from exposure to xenoestrogens from consumer products like plastics, plasticizers, fragrances, phthalates, and parabens. Other causes of estrogen dominance include alcoholism, obesity, and chronic stress.

Managing excess estrogens comes down to two straegies.

  1. Avoid Xenoestrogens. Decrease your plastic use by investing in stainless steel or Pyrex water bottles, avoiding plastic food storage containers, and getting rid of as many foods packaged in plastic as possible (almost the herculean task). Also, avoid synthetic fragrances in air fresheners, candles, and personal care products because many of these mimic estrogen in the human body. Avoid phthalates and parabens in your personal care, minimize the use of pesticides and herbicides, and generally work to cut down chemical exposure. Also, reduce your intake of alcohol and coffee, both of which raise estrogen levels.
  2. Detoxify Estrogen More Effectively – Estrogen detoxification requires healthy methylation, which comes down to everything we talk about for MTHFR. Avoid folic acid, take a good multivitamin that contains methylfolate and methylcobalamin, and work to keep your blood sugars balanced. Increase your dietary fiber because fiber helps catch detoxified estrogen in your digestive tract and pull it out. Also, add some ground flax seeds to your daily routine. The fiber in flax is a bonus, but the real gem here is the high lignan content because flax lignans help convert estrogen from extremely potent forms to more gentle forms and can reduce symptoms of estrogen dominance. The supplements indole-3-carbinol and calcium D-glucarate help with estrogen reduction as well, but flax seed is cheaper and easier to maintain long-term.

Progesterone and Sleep

Progesterone is as necessary as estrogen but is more well-known for its effects on sleep, sleep quality, and balance. It is also used to make extra cortisol, your wake-up and stress response hormone, in times of need. Progesterone levels are more likely to be low in modern society, and ensuring you have adequate amounts can help restore restful sleep.

Men also need progesterone, which is a precursor to the hormone we all think of as the main male sex hormone, which is testosterone. Also, as men age, their estrogen levels tend to rise, and as that happens, both progesterone and testosterone levels plummet.

Raising progesterone naturally mostly comes down to managing estrogen levels and xenoestrogens, but ensuring you have an adequate intake of vitamin B6, zinc, and magnesium can also help. In addition, progesterone is commonly prescribed as a cream or capsule, and very often, this is the best thing to get over hormone-related insomnia.

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Testosterone and Energy

Testosterone boosts energy, libido, lean muscle mass, strength, and overall feelings of goodness. It’s a great thing for both men and women as long as it is in a balanced and natural amount. Too much testosterone leads to aggression, excess facial and body hair, and, ultimately, weight gain. That isn’t what we’re going for, either.

For many modern people with low testosterone, the problem isn’t actually based on testosterone; it’s the estrogen again. High estrogen levels raise the hormone carrier molecule in the blood called sex hormone binding globulin to bind up and control the estrogen. The problem is that SHBG likes testosterone better, so it binds the free testosterone causing active testosterone levels to plummet in response to high estrogen. So, one of the best ways to free up testosterone is to manage estrogens like we just discussed – limit your exposure to outside estrogens and boost your estrogen detox. It is crucial to boost estrogen detoxification when you’re losing weight because fat cells make their own estrogen in both men and women, so breaking into those fat cells can cause an estrogen spike.

There are also some great supplements to support testosterone levels. Zinc is well known to increase testosterone production, as are shilajit and fulvic acid. Also, herbs have long been used to boost testosterone, including Tribulus, Ashwagandha, and Panax ginseng.

Energy and Women’s Cycles

For women with a menstrual cycle, our energy level does fluctuate through the month, being highest around ovulation, when testosterone and estrogen are peaking and lowest just before and during your period, when estrogen and testosterone are low and progesterone is high. This rhythm is entirely normal and should not be fixed unless you have symptoms indicating hormone imbalance.

At the end of the day, it seems like the moral of this whole hormone-related story is that things need to be balanced for you to have energy; the most common cause of imbalance is excess estrogens from outside your body, and that getting rid of them comes down to avoiding more intake and boosting detox. So, if you take away nothing else today, maybe stock up on some ground flax seeds and add a tablespoon a day to your diet.

Thank you so much for listening, watching, and spending time with me today. If you have a minute, I would really appreciate it if you’d leave a review. In the next episode, we’ll get into the link between energy and oxygen intake and talk about a sleep hack that sounds ridiculous but works. Mouth taping.

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MTHFR is a common genetic mutation that can contribute to anxiety, depression, fatigue, chronic pain, infertility, and more serious conditions like breast implant illness, heart attack, stroke, chronic fatigue syndrome, and some types of cancer. If you know or suspect you have an MTHFR variant, schedule a free 15-minute meet-and-greet appointment with MTHFR expert Dr. Amy today.

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Amy Neuzil
Amy Neuzil

Dr. Amy Neuzil, N.D. is a leading expert in MTHFR and epigenetics, and she is passionate about helping people achieve optimal health and wellness for their genetic picture. She has helped thousands of people overcome health challenges using a simple, step-by-step approach that starts with where they are today. Dr. Neuzil's unique approach to wellness has helped countless people improve their energy levels, lose weight, and feel better mentally and emotionally. If you're looking for a way to feel your best, Dr. Amy Neuzil can help. Contact her today to learn more about how she can help you achieve optimal health and wellness.

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