Support for ladies dealing with hormonal issues
Support for ladies dealing with hormonal issues , 09-15-2008 09:21 AM

Senior Low-Carber

I wanna start a thread for us ladies who are dealing with health issues that complicate our LC WOE. Issues such as PCOS, thyroid, perimenopause, menopause, adrenal fatigue etc.

We have such a different set of issues to deal with; our weight often stays stuck for long periods depsite sticking to a great diet.

So whether you are in OWL or doing very low carb or South Beach or whatever come join in.

RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 11:46 AM

Senior Low-Carber

Great idea Lynn. I'm in. I have hypothyroidism. Diagnosed 7 years ago. About 10 weeks ago, I lowered my Armour to 2 grains while eating VLC, and progressively felt worse, and had regained 10 lbs after 8 weeks. I also returned to eating more moderate carbs again to try to "feel" better, but it obviously only made me feel worse. It's been 2 weeks again back up at 2.5 grains of Armour, and in the last few days, I've begun cutting back on carbs again. It seems to be a combination for me, both thyroid and insulin control.

Do you have your lab results Lynn to share?
RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 01:20 PM

Senior Low-Carber

I know I sound like a groupie but I am seriously glad you are back Wendy .

I have PCOS. As a child I was slim, with a normal appetite and no weight or health problems up until I was 19 years old. My dad got very ill and later died and my weight just exploded. I wasn't comfort eating, however I think the stress of his illness combined with my undiagnosed PCOS caused a huge hormonal cascade in my body (I now trace the start of my adrenal exhaustion to this). I was diagnosed with PCOS in January of 2001 after I had gained 35lbs in a year with no change in exercise or dietary habits (in fact I was eating less). I then spent a year reading up on PCOS, the best treatments and on low carbing. I tried low G.I. first which did nothing for me; I tired CAD where I lost 7lbs then stalled. Then I found Dr. Schwarzbein's programme and in September of 2002 I begun to low carb. I got down to 140bs just watching my carbs and not my calories. My health and PCOS improved so much.

I maintained that 35lb loss until September 2005 when my ex fiancee and I split up due to his (hidden) drug addiction. I basically had a near breakdown and binged for six months. I gained back all my weight from binging on junk food every night. This is when my adrenal glands went crazy from all the cortiosl floating around (I only know this now). The binging got me back up to 173lbs. So in July 2006 I started low carbing again, more low GI, moderate carb (now I know too high a level for me) and lost down to 168lbs. Then in January 2007 I discovered Protein Power and stuck rigidly to their intervention levels until I reached 154. I then bounced between 154 and 160 for nine months, between May 2007 and February 2008. I felt so ill on the VLC intervention level with stomach aches, cravings and hunger all without even any significant weight loss. So I upped my carbs in November 2007 and started feeling GREAT. However no weight loss. I did some reading thanks to Charles and realised that I needed more fat. When I added more fat I no longer felt like heck on VLC. I felt good. I started Atkins induction on 09/19. I only lost 3lbs in induction and have lost nothing at all the past two weeks. I feel good on this amount of carbs though so I am gonna stick at inductin for another few weeks then move to OWL.

My TSH is normal, my free T3 is low and my T4 is at the low end of the normal range also. My symptoms are high cholesterol, inability to lose weight even on low carb, burning feet, brain fog, cold ALL the time, very low body temperature (waking temp is usually around 96.6), sudden bouts of severe fatigue, breathlessness before periods, severe PMS, acne, salt cravings and itchy ears.

Ferretin and B12 are both fine.

Free T4 is 12 (range is 9.0 -19.0)
Free T3: 4.3 (range 4.0 -6.8)

My adrenal fatigue is pretty bad:
Morning cortisol result: 13.1 (range 12-22)
Noon result: 2.4 (range 5.0-9.0)
Early evening result: 3.4 (range is 3.0-7.0)
Night time cortisol: 1.1 (range 1.0-3.0)

Do I have hypo? My doc is treating my adrenals first and then wants to see about the thyroid. I am scared of somehow messing myself up even more by treating the hypo yet I have so many hypothyroid syymptoms I just don't know what to think.

So in summary my issues are adrenal fatigue stage 2/3, PCOS and possibily hypothyroid. TBH I am sure I am hypo actually

I am stalled at 158 currently. I am so sick of getting nowhere with my weight loss. Atkins was my last shot since it is the strictest of all the LC plans. I thought for sure that would work.

It seems I am only starting out on my jouney to health now though.

RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 01:54 PM

Advanced Low-Carber

Hey girls,

Count me in!

I'm not dealing with thyroid issues but rather, trying to figure out how the hormones I'm taking since hysterectomy (bio-identical sex hormones) are affecting me, if they have any influence on any of the symptoms I've been dealing with since the operation and how they impact weight.

I am beginning to realize that the ways in which one gets their hormones is crucial. I've always taken hormones orally, sublingually or rectally but in all cases, it seems, a good deal of the hormones end up going through the liver where many functions get disturbed and where most of the hormones gets destroyed.

I am now taking my hormones vaginally although studies suggest it may be not be so effective for systemic absorption. I have a doctor's appointment in a couple of weeks and will ask him to switch me to transdermal patches, where hormones are directly pumped into the blood, bypassing the first-pass through the liver. Until then, vaginal, it is.

RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 01:56 PM

Senior Low-Carber


Welcome!!! Wow, sorry you have got to go through all this with a hysterectomy.

RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 02:24 PM

Senior Low-Carber

Kristelle, it's nice to meet you. Absorption is very tricky. I deal with the same stuff with my thyroid hormones. When you take anything orally, you are correct that it first has to be processed in the liver. When I take thyroid meds by swallowing, they become much less effective, both damaged by stomach acid, bind to other hormones, and are quickly cleared by the liver. When I take them bucally (between my cheek and gum), it takes 1.5 hours for them to be absorbed by the capillaries in my mouth, directly into my bloodstream, increasing the chance for them to be taken up by all my organs, and not quickly eliminated by my liver. Is it possible for you to take your meds this way?
RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 02:26 PM

Senior Low-Carber

Wendy - Can I have your opinion on my thyroid? Thanks!

RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 02:29 PM

Senior Low-Carber

Lynn, You have very unusual looking lab ranges for FT3 and FT4. Although you say your TSH is in the normal range, can you post its exact value?

Your cortisol labs look very similar to mine last December when I was undermedicated on my thyroid meds. Being hypoT is very stressful on your body, your adrenals have to pick up the slack, and this can lead to adrenal fatigue as well. My doctor even wanted me to take Cortef last winter, but I declined. Instead I took (and continue to take), Adrenal Stress End, which contains adrenal cortical extract and licorice root to extend my body's cortisol. This, combined with switching to Armour, and taking enough of it, brought my cortisol levels up to ideal in March. My levels were at the top of range in the AM and noon, midrange at 4 pm, and at the bottom of range at night.

So, for me, supporting my thyroid adequately seems to be a big key in my adrenal status.

You may be unaware that cortisol and thyroid levels are inversely related. What this means is that if you are increasing your cortisol levels (by supplements, licorice, Cortef, or adaptogens), your thyroid levels will worsen. If you feel worse, this may be what's happening.

What kind of thyroid support is your doctor willing to prescribe? Armour?
RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 02:53 PM

Senior Low-Carber

I stupidly did not ask my doc for my TSH level so he is posting me out a copy. Last time it was taken though it was 1.14 so I can't imagine it has changed much (for some reason we actually do use the American range for TSH). Yes my adrenals are whacked. I am on adrenal stress end also.

My doc also told me that the adrenals and thyroid were related which is why he wanted to treat my adrenals first before moving to thyroid. The cortisol and adrenals levels were both measured at the same time. I am on no thyroid meds at the moment.

What is unusual about my free T3 and free T4? That they are low? I am in Ireland though so our lab values are pretty much always different to yours. Apparently we measure in mml and you in mg or some other such nonsense . It's the same with cholsterol i.e U.S. cholesterol number of 200 = 5.1 here as we are using different measuring symptoms. My doc was concerned that my levels were both in the lower third of the range however.

RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 03:03 PM

Senior Low-Carber

That's great that your doc is concerned about your FREES being low. Most docs here would say they are in range and fine. No, your doctor's , assessment is correct, they are both low. It was the ranges that looked funny to me Here, a 4.3 on a FT3 test would be at the top of the range. That's why ranges are so important.

My research suggests that ideal thyroid levels would have FT4 midrange and FT3 in the upper 1/3 of range or even slightly over.

Your doctor is also correct that adrenals need to be strong enough before thyroid meds are introduced. Do you know what kind of thyroid meds he/she prescribes?
RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 03:09 PM

Senior Low-Carber

No I just know that he is 'pro T3' which I presume means he is willing to supplument with T3 but I don't know whether he prescribes Armour or not. I found him by searching for 'top thyroid doctors in Ireland' and he was listed

RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 06:32 PM

Senior Low-Carber

T3 is certainly better than T4-only meds. Some people do really well on it.
RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-15-2008 09:43 PM

Advanced Low-Carber

Hi ladies, I know I have talked with you all before and would love to offer support and be supported.

I am on Cytomel/ T3 only for Hashimoto's. It took about 4 years to get it right, but that was because the adrenals took so long to heal. I am also on bio-identical sex hormones too.

Just getting back to low carb over the last few weeks and feeling better but since I have days here and there where I eat too many carbs I have actually gained about 5 lbs.

I feel VERY stuck and trapped with my weight. I know it should be all about how you feel, but I am 5'2' and weighing in at 157! Much too big for my small body. The weight gain all started with the adrenal crash and burn 4 years ago and gradually piled on with all the adrenal, thyroid and menopause issues (early menopuase and hysterectomy) . I used to only top out at 120 lbs. This year though I have managed to lose 12, although now only 7.

I can't help it, but I mentally feel very down on myself. I feel like I can't eat anything that has a carb in it, so I can't socialize much because I have no willpower. It really sucks and I can relate to you Lynn about this one.

Lynn- the other thing to consider is taking your basal body temperature. There is a chart on another Dr. Wilson website for Wilson's Temperature Syndrome, where there can be low thryroid but it doesn't show up clinically in the blood. So women have symptoms and feel bad but the DRs. are saying they are OK because there blood tests are normal. There is also a lot of controversy with the Endocrinologists in the US about what the TSH values should be. One of my docs didn't want me to be below 2, but my current doc has me at .06 and that is the best I can feel.

RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-16-2008 08:42 AM

Senior Low-Carber

I am sooooo glad I started this thread. It is so nice to have ladies who are dealing with such stubborn weight and health issues. I think it's hard for others who have gone on low carb and lost all their weight fairly easily to understand. They can say it's all about health and of course it is important. However they can't know what its like to feel like your body is trying to sabatage you.

Last night I added some peanut butter and some lindt chocolate to my evening meal. Well now my body has obviousy become totally intolerent to carbs as I woke up this morning at 160. I was 158 two days ago!!!

Feeling pretty down today as it seems like I am only starting now on the road to recovery.

I am so glad to have all of us nice ladies here

Allycat - My very low basal body temps were one of the things that got me thinking about my thyroid. My doctor is not happy with them either; they average 96.4 pre ovulation and 96.8 afterwards. Not good.

RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-16-2008 10:27 AM

Senior Low-Carber

Allycat, remind me how much Cytomel you are currently taking, how you are taking it (swallowing, sublingually, bucally), and in how many doses.

Dr. Wilson has you track your average daily temps. You start 3 hours after waking, and then every 3 hours after that, for a total of 3 readings, and average them together.

My doctor has used Dr. Wilson's T3 protocol on difficult patients with a lot of success. Until I learned that VLC increases my temperature, he was considering having me try it. I still may do it in the future, depending on how my labs look at my increased dose of Armour.

Wilson's temperature syndrome is an issue of your body getting stuck in reverse T3-making mode. When your body has T4 in it (either from your own thyroid, or from T4 meds or Armour), it can either turn this T4 into metabolically active T3 or if it can't handle it, it will turn it into reverse-T3. If it gets stuck in this mode, increasing Armour or T4 meds will only make you feel worse, b/c all the T4 gets turned into RT3. This may be why Allycat does so well on T3-only. Have you done the whole Wilson's protocol before?

I have only had my reverse T3 measured once, at my lowered dose of 2 grains of Armour this summer. My reverse T3 was in the lower part of the range, so this didn't appear to be my problem, at least not at that time, and not at that dose. My doctor will be retesting my RT3 levels at my increased dose of 2.5 grains in the next few months.

Since I do not feel optimal at 2 grains, and if my RT3 levels are elevated at 2.5 grains (with a relatively low level of free T3), I may consider doing Wilson's protocol at that time. What Wilson's does is clear out all T4 from your body, making it impossible to make RT3. You only take T3 meds.

My doctor says that after you do this, some of his patients are "cured" and no longer need thyroid hormone. Those that do, he'll put back on Armour, but they'll typically need a much smaller dose.

Interestingly, this condition apparently has a ethnic component, as it is more common in people of backgrounds that involved famines, such as in Irish. I'm Irish, my ancestors came over here during the potato famine. Lynne, I'm betting you are Irish too

At Wilson's website, there is a very interesting and comprehensive free e-book that you can download all about Wilson's temperature syndrome. It's highly controversial and dismissed by most docs as voodoo, but my doc has had good success with it, in rare patients who need it.

I should actually go back and reread it again. I remember he discusses that one of the symptoms of it is hypoglycemia, which I battle, even on VLC, though it is diminished. Wilson's protocol gives me hope that, if it is my problem, that not only may it help me lose weight and feel better, but it may allow me to be better able to handle carbohydrates as well?
RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-16-2008 12:31 PM

Advanced Low-Carber


I took my hormones sublingually and even then, much of it seemed to end up going through my liver.

Right now, I'm taking them vaginally and suddenly feeling much better. What is most obvious is my increased energy, better digestion, lack of bloating and improved skin tone and texture. Wow!!! I did not expect this. Oh...and I am so much calmer inside.

I really think that estrogen disturbs many normal functions in the body when too much goes through liver. Like water retention for example, or fat digestion.

I don't know if the estrogen in my vagina is actually getting absorbed into my blood or not, I guess a blood test could tell me that but I will probably be switching to transdermal patches just to be sure. I'm meeting my doctor tomorrow, sooner than I thought.

RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-16-2008 01:51 PM

Senior Low-Carber

Kristelle, that's interesting. So, the only hormones you take are estrogen and progesterone? Are these bioidentical or synthetic? Do you take them every day or cycle them to get a period?
RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-16-2008 02:17 PM

Expert Low-Carber

Great thread!

I'm PCOS/IR/T2 diabetes

I think I have been IR for most of my life. I had problems with mentruation from day 1. I've been overweight my entire life. It seems like doctors want to do little for me except tell me to lose weight (no kidding!). Yet, when I would tell them I tried it all including 800 calories a day, they didn't offer me much until my last OB/GYN told me to consider myself a diabetic and try the low carb approach. She mentioned Atkins and South Beach. Unfortunately, two months later, I received my diabetes diagnosis anyway so, that advice came later in the game than I wish. My GP and OB/GYN do not want to put me on Metformin and although I'm not convinced 100% that I need to be on medication, I'm not truly convinced it won't help at least until the weight comes off. I have been successful, so far, losing weight with low carbing only. I have over 100 lbs to lose so, that may also be a factor in my success.

I've finally decided to go against my GP's wishes and see an Endo. I pray he will thoroughly test me - including thyroid function. That way I can get that second opinion.



"Never eat more than you can lift."
--Miss Piggy
RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-16-2008 02:17 PM

Advanced Low-Carber

The hormones I take are bio-identical. They are estradiol and progesterone. I take them daily, on a continuous base.

RE: Support for ladies dealing with hormone issues , 09-16-2008 03:30 PM

Senior Low-Carber

Hi Danielle. I, too, think my IR issues started early, and have had problems with menstruation from an early age, even though I wasn't overweight at the time. I didn't get my first period until I was 16, and then not again for 364 days. I didn't start gaining weight till a few years later, but I was a serious sugar addict, so the underlying cause was there.

Unfortunately, most endos here in the states are TERRIBLE when it comes to thyroid issues. Where do you live? I saw an endo once; it was a complete waste of time. According to him I was overmedicated b/c he only cares what your TSH level is, a pituitary hormone, even though both my Free T3 and T4 levels were at the rock bottom of range. Do you have any anti-aging docs near you? Although I am only 30 years old, I see one for my thyroid condition, and he is wonderful. He is also very open-minded about LC, and asked to borrow my copy of GCBC at my last visit