Are you struggling with irregular periods, heavy periods, or even absence of periods? If so, it's likely that your hormone levels are imbalanced. Your menstrual cycle is regulated by hormones, after all. So, how can probiotics affect your period and hormones? The answer lies in your gut health. Let's take a look.
Importance of Gut Health For Hormonal Health
Gut health and hormones are linked in various ways. Did you know that a number of hormones are produced and regulated in your gut? More specifically, your microbiome (aka an environment of both harmful and beneficial bacteria) carry out these mechanisms.
Your gut microbiome plays a role in not only hormone synthesis and regulation, but also your immune system, absorption of nutrients, and various other necessary functions.
If you don't have a healthy and optimally functioning gut microbiome, it could impact the way bodily processes are carried out, including functions involving your hormones.
Since hormones play a role in everything from mood to digestion to reproductive health and, yes, even your periods, it's essential to keep your gut healthy to support healthy hormones!
Let's Talk Estrogen and Gut Health Real Quick
Estrogen is produced mostly by your ovaries (some from your adrenals) and then gets transported to your uterus and breasts. But ultimately, your estrogen ends up going to your liver and gets changed to an inactive form. This inactive estrogen then travels to the intestines and stool to be eliminated- voila.
BUT...if a particular type of bacteria in your estrobolome (within your gut) is elevated, an enzyme called beta-glucuronidase, will also be elevated. The issue is that this enzyme can turn that inactive form of estrogen back into the active form.
This is bad news because that estrogen is capable of circulating back into your body, elevating your estrogen levels.
What is the Estrobolome Again?
Within your gut, your microbiome contains a collection of particular bacteria called an estrobolome. These bacteria regulate and metabolize your circulating estrogen. These little bugs play a big part in your estrogen levels as mentioned above.
When your gut microbiome is healthy, the estrobolome produces just the right amount of beta-glucuronidase to maintain estrogen balance.
If your estrogen levels are elevated compared to your progesterone, it's known as estrogen dominance and this can impact your menstrual cycle.
What else can contribute to estrogen dominance?
One of the major contributors to estrogen dominance are toxins called xenoestrogens. These toxins mimic the chemical structure of estrogen, ramping up your estrogen levels. Unfortunately, these xenoestrogens are commonly found in our everyday environment and diet.
What are xenoestrogens found in?
Beauty products (lotions, make-up, shampoos, etc.)
Pesticides (that end up on our food and into our water sources)
Birth control products
Gut Health and Menstrual Cycle
Your main hormones that predict and regulate your cycle include estrogen and progesterone. When these hormone ratios are optimally balanced, your cycle runs smoothly.
But, suppose your gut microbiome doesn't have all those necessary bacteria that are needed to carry out different hormonal functions and regulations. In that case, your hormones can become imbalanced, your estrogen increases, and your ovaries receive the wrong signals, altering your menstrual cycle.
If poor gut health is contributing to estrogen dominance, your menstrual cycle will feel the consequences-think heavy bleeding, missed periods, or no even periods!
My favorite test for looking at hormones and their detox pathways is the Dutch test. If your lab results come back and show suboptimal results, supplements and dietary modifications can be used to correct these imbalances.
Estrogen Dominance Symptoms
Swollen, tender breasts
Impatience and irritability
Decreased libido and sex drive
Stomach cramps before the onset of menses
So, Can Probiotics Affect Your Period?
The short answer is YES, they sure can! Probiotics affect your period and menstrual cycle regulation in a couple of different ways by restoring a healthy estrogen balance.
Probiotics Aid Toxin Elimination
If you don't poop daily, toxins can reabsorb back into circulation. This stalled digestion promotes estrogen dominance because if those toxins aren't being eliminated from your body via poop, they will travel back into your body, elevating your estrogen levels.
Probiotics, however, can fix that. Probiotics are great for balancing your microbiome and improving your digestion to move things along and to clear excess hormones. Probiotics can help make you more regular so you are pooping at least once a day!
Probiotics Encourage Microbial Diversity
Like I stated above, our gut needs a variety of bacteria to carry out certain functions. Some types of bacteria may metabolize estrogen, while other bacteria help secrete serotonin, or help absorb certain types of nutrients.
When you increase the diversity of your microbiome, you are balancing that ratio of harmful vs beneficial bacteria. You need that balance to allow estrogen to be regulated correctly.
If it's not balanced, estrogen levels will slowly elevate and will circulate through the body, causing menstrual problems.
Best Probiotics for Menstrual Health:
The best probiotic for menstrual health should include Lactobacillus. Not only does it support a healthy gut microbiome, it’s also been found to specifically normalize the estrous cycle. This helps keep estrogen levels balanced.
I personally love Klaire brand probiotics. They have an excellent Women's probiotic that could be beneficial to your gut and menstrual health. Visit my Fullscript store to get 10% off all my hand-picked supplements.
5 Tips for Balancing Estrogen Levels and Promote Digestion
Test, don't guess: A stool test can reveal your beta-glucuronidase levels. If these are high, we know that's an area we need to work on to help lower your estrogen.
Consume a variety of foods: while probiotics can help improve a healthy microbial diversity, getting a large portion from whole organic foods is highly encouraged first and foremost!
Get pooping, women!- fiber, hydration, movement, and magnesium are going to be your new best friend. Start including these right now, and let me know how you're pooping in a week!
Manage stress: Stress increases cortisol levels and can even promote lower progesterone levels. When your ratio of progesterone to estrogen is off, it can lead to estrogen dominance and menstruation issues.
Add in cruciferous vegetables to your meals: broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts all contain compounds that ease the detoxification of estrogen.
If you are experiencing menstrual issues, take a look at your gut health. Your gut can tell you significant information about why you may be experiencing symptoms. Since your gut health highly influences estrogen levels, it's vital to restore your gut to get your period normal again.
Can Probiotics Affect Your Period? Sure! But there are plenty of other factors we should look into to get your body back into balance as well.
Work With an Integrative Health and Herbal Expert
Please make an appointment with me, Jessica Meyers, to address your period and hormonal issues and get your gut health optimal again. We will work together to find out what's causing your missed period, heavy and painful menstruation, or even why you're not getting them altogether!
Functional lab testing (taking a look at gut and hormonal health, nutrient deficiencies, and toxins) can be incredibly beneficial in your health journey. Depending on your lab results, personalized guidance will be given to support your unique body.