Wellness Coaches on TikTok Promise to Fix ‘Hormonal Imbalance’ — But Gynecologists Say It’s More Complicated Than That

The never-ending stream of viral lifestyle tips on TikTok is one of the things we enjoy most about it. While these are frequently entertaining beauty advice, cooking or styling recommendations, or even thoughtful wellness communities, it becomes risky when these seemingly harmless hacks pivot to unresearched medical advice that frequently seeks to replace seeking advice from a licensed physician who is familiar with your body and your particular health situation.

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In the holistic health community, issues like painful or irregular periods, digestive issues, and even some chronic autoimmune diseases are sometimes attributed to “hormone imbalances” (such as the so-called “estrogen dominance” that has recently been trending on TikTok). The suggested remedy? food trends, estrogen detoxification procedures, or even expensive hormone health coaching.

Early in 2021, OBGYN and influencer Dr. Jessica Geida used Instagram to dispel the myth that your cyclical reproductive hormones can even be out of whack. She specifically warned against the exploitative business practices of some holistic practices that prey on clients who feel ignored while dealing with vexing or obstinate symptoms and illnesses.

Dr. Geida is the owner of the well-liked Instagram account @smilesandscrubs, where she works to spread factual information and refute myths regarding reproductive healthcare. Her post generated a lot of discussion in the comments area, particularly from other OBGYNs who echoed and expanded on her points and from patients who recounted a variety of experiences with holistic health techniques, including how they left them feeling misunderstood and exploited.

Balance is simply a misleading term. I believe it got its start with the way we try to explain how hormones affect the uterine lining: having enough progesterone in proportion to estrogen. And I believe that the phrase has spread, says Dr. Gunter. But it’s more of an effect and a response than a true equilibrium. Two things are interdependent.

Progesterone and estrogen fluctuate in relation to one another during a menstrual cycle, entirely changing day to day. As these levels fluctuate, they set off several cycle events, including ovulation and menstruation. Because of this cyclical pattern, hormone tests rarely offer insightful information without careful observation and previous discussion with your doctor.

When your doctor does decide to order a hormone test, they are considering these levels along with your symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis—the results by themselves offer no context.

Many expensive hormone testing that aren’t covered by insurance can drain your finances unnecessarily, and certain holistic recommendations, like excessive detoxification, can even be harmful. Many of these hormone-related tips were made popular on TikTok by users going by the moniker “Dr.” So-and-so, but a closer examination shows that the majority of these users aren’t real doctors.

It is vital to stress that hormone coaching and detoxification are not well-researched or supported by science as treatments for symptoms that won’t go away, such as PMS, painful periods, and weight gain.

“Most people don’t require hormone testing. In order to move forward, you must first ask, “What are the symptoms?,” says Dr. Gunter. Each symptom or symptom complex “may require a distinct set of testing because there could be other hormones involved.”

There is no chance that a hormone imbalance will be identified in you; however, your doctor may be able to use tests in conjunction with other procedures to identify particular conditions, such as PCOS, thyroid issues, or hypothalamic amenorrhea, a condition in which the brain isn’t signaling your body to ovulate.

So, instead of using the TikTok hacks, talk to your gynecologist or other healthcare professional if you are worried about your symptoms.

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