Fertility & Hormones: Understanding Stress & Sex Hormones

Today I share some further insight from Dr. Claudia Welch’s book Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life: Achieving Optimal Health and Wellness through Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, and Western Science. To read the first in my series from this book click <HERE>.

Spending my teen and college years in California I saw many, and I mean many, yin and yang symbols (usually anywhere the surfers could be found). I truly had no idea what yin and yang actually represented–beyond the laid back surfer way of life–and how Eastern Medicine used these concepts in relation to the hormones in women’s (and men’s) bodies.

“Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine both hold that there are two fundamental (and opposing) principles that invigorate and nourish life. Yang is the energizing, activating, and motivating principle of life. Yin is the nourishing and building principle.

The easiest way to learn yin and yang is to consider some examples. In daily life, driving the car, making deals, playing sports, multitasking, drinking coffee, and eating spicy food are all predominantly yang activities. Sleeping, meditating, getting massage, and eating oatmeal all support yin. Yang is considered male energy, yin is considered female. Yang energy is hot, bright, fast, mobile, dry, energetic, and aggressive. Yin is cool, dark, slow, soft, substantial, stable, moist, and tranquil. Yang is daytime, yin is night. Yang is the movement of the wave crashing on the shore, and the undertow that draws back the water into the sea. Yin is the water that comprises the wave.

Yang is energetic. It’s responsible for motivation, metabolism, transformation, and other active functions in the body and mind. It is considered a “reducing” principle in Ayurveda because being active reduces, or uses up, bodily reserves. Yang motivates our bodies and stimulates our minds. Yin is the nourishing principle that manifests as the substance of the body and calms the mind. All qualities of yin and yang manifest both physically and emotionally. Yin and yang are opposites that depend on each other for the whole to function. They continuously interact in a dance that creates and sustains life.

If we can understand yin and yang, we have a simple framework for understanding the function of any hormone in the body, and specifically the complex stress hormones (yang) and sex hormones (yin), whose relationship is at the root of women’s health, good or ill.  (p. 15).

“Hormones are the ever-present servants of our  mental and physical balance. Each is secreted in one part of the body, travels to another part, and influences it to do whatever the body needs to achieve (or regain) its equilibrium in the moment.” (p. 13).

For many women the imbalance of yin and yang hormones in the body is a key factor in fertility, and challenges in conceiving. Increasing our knowledge about how hormones affect every aspect of our health can also help us become more informed consumers of the currently available western medical interventions for fertility.

Our modern lifestyle pushes women into the yang and separates us from the yin. As a result sex hormones can pay the price of stress hormones taking over. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information on just how the yin and yang of hormones interact with women’s cycles.

For today, perhaps take some time to nurture the feminine, yin, sex hormones by taking a walk in nature, getting a massage, doing a meditation, or taking a nap. Your body will thank you for it.

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