Did you know that 75% of the 50 million Americans affected by autoimmune diseases are women? What's even more fascinating is that hormonal imbalances, such as those during PMS or after pregnancy, can increase the risk of developing these diseases. As women, we need to understand how our hormones impact our immune system and what we can do to maintain hormonal balance for our health. In this article, we'll dive deeper into the connection between hormones, PMS, and autoimmune diseases, and learn how balancing our hormones can provide much-needed relief. So, grab your favorite anti-inflammatory tea, get cozy, and let's explore this fascinating topic together!
Autoimmune diseases happen when your immune system starts attacking your own healthy cells and tissues. There are over 80 different types of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type 1 diabetes.
Autoimmune Diseases and Women: A Gender Disparity
According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), autoimmune diseases affect approximately 50 million Americans, and about 75% of them are women. Here are some examples of autoimmune diseases that are more common in women than in men, along with the percentage of women affected:
- Rheumatoid arthritis: 75% women, 25% men
- Multiple sclerosis: 75% women, 25% men
- Lupus: 90% women, 10% men
- Sjögren's syndrome: 90% women, 10% men
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis: 91% women, 9% men
- Graves' disease: 88% women, 12% men
These statistics show that women are significantly more likely to develop autoimmune diseases than men. In fact, for some autoimmune diseases like lupus and Sjögren's syndrome, women are more than nine times as likely as men to be affected. These gender disparities suggest that hormonal factors may play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases and highlight the importance of maintaining hormonal balance for women's health.
The PMS and Autoimmune Disease Connection: How Hormonal Imbalances Play a Role
The exact causes of autoimmune diseases are still a bit of a mystery, but there are a few things that can increase your risk of getting them. One of these things is hormonal imbalances, especially the ones that happen during PMS.
PMS is when you get a bunch of symptoms like mood changes, bloating, cramps, headaches, and fatigue in the days or weeks leading up to your period. Hormone levels, especially estrogen and progesterone, can go up and down during this time and that can really affect your immune system.
Estrogen activates the immune system
One way hormonal imbalances can affect your immune system is by messing with the balance of different immune cells in your body. Estrogen, for example, can increase the number of B cells in your body, which make antibodies to fight off invaders like bacteria and viruses. But, if there are too many B cells, they can start attacking your own cells and tissues instead.
Hormonal imbalances can also affect the production of cytokines, which are signalling molecules that tell your immune system what to do.
Progesterone Calms The immune system
Estrogen can cause your body to make more cytokines that promote inflammation, while progesterone can cause your body to make less. A little bit of inflammation is good for fighting off invaders, but too much can hurt your healthy cells and tissues and lead to autoimmune diseases.
Progesterone can also affect your immune system by slowing down the activity of T cells. T cells are in charge of coordinating your immune response, and if they're not working as well as they should, it's harder for your body to recognize and attack invaders.
Hormone Imbalances Affect The Gut, too
Finally, hormonal imbalances can mess with the bacteria and other tiny organisms that live in your gut. These tiny guys, called the gut microbiome, help you digest food, make vitamins, and keep your immune system in check. If your hormones are out of whack, though, your gut microbiome can get thrown off balance too, which can cause inflammation and immune problems.
Reducing Your Autoimmune Disease symptoms: Lifestyle Changes, Supplements, and Hormone Therapy
So, what can you do about all this? Well, lifestyle changes, hormone balancing supplements, and hormone therapy can all help bring your hormones back into balance and reduce your risk of autoimmune diseases or improve your symptoms if you already have one. If you have autoimmune disease and PMS and would like to start feeling better, reach out to me and I'll see if my hormone balancing programs are right for you and your autoimmune disease.