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Jenny Logan.
Jenny Logan.

Last week I started looking at the hormonal imbalances involved in PMS. This week I am looking at another hormonal issue linked with PMS and which is also involved in problems like PCOS. This is high androgen/testosterone levels.

Androgens and testosterone are most commonly thought of as male hormones, but we all have them and, whilst we need certain levels of these hormones, too many can cause issues.

Androgen levels tend to be at their highest during puberty. These raised androgen levels can also be one of the causes of the oily skin and acne that many teenagers experience.

Normally as we leave our teens and enter our 20s, androgen levels should start to subside. However, this does not always happen and this can cause some real hormonal problems.

Common high androgen symptoms are: raised androgens tend to mean a greater amount of testosterone being produced, which can lead to mood swings, aggressive feelings and irritability.

Then the periods can also be affected, but with high androgen levels, periods tend to be erratic, they could also be light and you may even find that you miss periods occasionally.

The other major issues with raised androgens include oily skin, acne, increased or heavy facial and body hair, head hair thinning, weight gain around the middle and major sugar cravings.

These are the issues most commonly experienced by women suffering with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), which affects quite a large number of women.

However, just because you have these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you have PCOS. If you think that all of this sounds your PMS issues, or if you know that you have PCOS, then there are some natural remedies to try.

The first is a supplement called saw palmetto, which is often used by men to help control excess testosterone.

Recent research has indicated that saw palmetto could also be useful for women exhibiting the signs of high androgens and raised testosterone, with some women trialling it reporting improvements in their cycle, mood and their skin.

It has also been trialled in women with PCOS and the reports coming out are extremely promising. It is safe to use with the pill or HRT so if you are struggling with hormonal acne and anger then saw palmetto could well be worth a try.

I would also suggest adding in the mineral chromium which helps to contribute to the maintenance of normal blood glucose levels, which helps to control the blood sugar dips, associated with sugar cravings.