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Preexisting hormonal imbalance & self-medicating?

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Preexisting hormonal imbalance and self-medicating?

TL DR – Looking for input from experienced women who have had significant hormonal imbalances, especially low testosterone issues, about the possibility of self-medicating with AAS, Sarms, Serms, etc without making my situation worse.

Not sure how much info you need in order to provide appropriate advice, so I'll give you as much detail as possible. So this will be a lengthy post. I thank you upfront if you take the time to read all this. Please bear with me... :)


I'm a mid-30s woman with a history of healthy diet & exercise (incl traditional bodybuilding). About 5 years ago, I started developing a hormonal imbalance. This was confirmed with multiple professional lab tests starting a couple years ago. I have extremely low testosterone, below acceptable norms for my age, to the point that it is almost undetectable. Estradiol, progesterone & evening cortisol are at the low end of normal. This is beyond typical hormonal changes women experience after hitting age 30, but certainly that didn't help my case. Lol.

The medical reason has not yet been found but I suspect several years of multiple significant high stress events caused prolonged spiked cortisol which eventually threw my hormonal balance out of whack. I hoped reducing stress, consistent exercise & healthy diet would set things right but hasn't worked so far.

My body almost completely stopped responding to diet & exercise. I gained 20lbs pure fat. (Every other symptom of low testosterone is present too, including zero libido, but I'll spare you those details.) Hardcore training & diet like a lunatic, guided by multiple professionals & lab tests of progress has shown minimal results. Everyone (including professionals) I talk to about this starts with "your diet & exercise must be wrong". They don't seem to get that, with a hormonal imbalance, sometimes it basically doesn't matter what you do. I have a background in kinesiology, experience with effective training & nutrition incl that I've had 6 pack abs in the past. I've tried everything over the past few years, invested over $10K in the past year on specialists/professionals to try to fix this, to no avail. Every personal trainer, nutritionist, naturopath, doctor has been baffled by my body's lack of significant response.

This is the ONLY approach so far to have caused a *very* slight improvement but still has not been able to get testosterone to normal levels:
– Aggressive HIIT & functional training (cardio & strength) 4x/wk, with lighter recovery cardio an additional 2x/wk (more or less often or other styles of training are no longer effective)
– Perfectly clean eating 5-6meals/day at 2000+cal/day with macronutrient ratio of 60-25-15 or even 70-20-10 (higher or lower cal & low carb approaches like 40-30-30 are no longer effective nor suitable to the training required for my goals)
– DHEA 25mg/day with zinc to prevent conversion to DHT & encourage conversion to testosterone (without the DHEA, the above has even less results)

Before this imbalance, this kind of herculean effort would have (and indeed has) given me 6 pack abs and turned me into superwoman within 1-2 months.


Obviously the best option would be an endocrinologist to find the root of the problem, prescribe treatment, and monitor progress/changes. However, the medical community doesn't take low testosterone seriously in premenopausal women, and it is not common to treat it, barring a life-threatening condition. It also takes 6 months to 3 years for a referral (yes, really). I am on a wait list but doctors have been very dismissive so far and I'm not optimistic.

I'm tired of my lack of fitness progress, which by the way hinders my career and was never a problem before this hormonal imbalance. I'm tired of my complete lack of sex life, which was also never a problem before this hormonal imbalance. And all the other low testosterone symptoms that I've just learned to put up with.

So in the meantime, I've been investigating self-medicating. I would like to improve my hormonal balances, especially testosterone, but am afraid of things like testosterone shutdown, estrogen rebound, etc. All this is new to me and the last thing I want is to make my situation even worse. And then I suppose this approach means I am basically committing myself to cycling these things for life, since otherwise, my hormones would just revert to the previous imbalance after I come off them?

Those who have seen my other posts know that I was recently seeing some modest progress with a carefully monitored, conservative, low dose, short cycle of Ostarine & GW. I've recently ordered LGD. (I intend to resume and maybe this is all I need, but wanted some input here first.)

I was interested in Anavar/oxandrolone but could not locate a good reliable local source and not willing to take the risk with customs. One package seemed to be low dose Dbol according to Labmax so I didn't use it; another was a blatant theft that took my money but never delivered (I knew that was a chance I was taking but I stuck my neck... err, wallet... out anyway); another was suspiciously underpriced so I decided against it. Other AAS scare me as a woman and as a beginner to this stuff.

What about T3? I understand it's prescribed for hypothyroid conditions? (I'm not entirely sure if my thyroid is the issue here.) I have a trusted source. But usually its supposed to be stacked with an AAS, &/or Clen which apparently you lose muscle along with fat (no thanks), you're supposed to avoid HIIT cardio & only do endurance cardio (my training requires HIIT right now), and the experience is similar to an ECA stack (I did this once – effective for cutting but I thought my heart was going to explode, so never again).

DHEA, as I mentioned above. I also got AndroFeme 1% testosterone cream for women, the same one prescribed by doctors, but I haven't tried it yet. I know it isn't typically used by bodybuilders as it is not really effective for their goals, but might be suitable for me.

So after all that (and thanks, if you've managed to read it all :) )... Any thoughts?

PS – My next hormone test results will arrive from the lab in a few weeks.
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I'm just passing through this afternoon and had a couple quick thoughts....will come back later when work slows down.

I wouldn't touch T3 for this issue. LIkely to do more damage than good.

Have you ever taken any time off training? Like real time? A good solid 2 weeks, for example? If there's no medical cause (that can be found) I'd start looking at the lifestyle stuff...sounds like you could have some metabolic stuff going on.

AAS might help in the short term but likely not a long term solution and then you're worse off...the crash coming off with already wonky hormones suck. Have you tried any OTC test boosters?

I'm feeling your pain....I've had hormone issues for the last 7 years.

Chat more soon :)
Re: Preexisting hormonal imbalance &a m p; self-medicating?

Thanks for the quick response. Wasn't expecting that. :)

Yes, I've definitely tried taking off 4 full weeks, more than once due to sheer frustration. Within that timeframe, I managed to lose all of the very minimal progress that had taken me 6 months to achieve (whereas it would normally have taken me 1 month before this hormonal imbalance).

I've researched high & low, including pubmed, regarding possible lifestyle issues. Did tons of little things like removing aspartame & soy (never consumed that much to begin with). Significantly reduced processed foods & caffeine. Did a hair mineral analysis, with awareness of possible external contamination & indirect indicators & all that, but nothing unusual there. Looked into chemicals in everyday household products, cosmetics, food, clothing, etc. and made some changes there. Replaced my dental fillings. Removed all body piercings. Improved sleep hygiene. Eliminated hormonal birth control years ago (only barrier methods now on the very rare occasion I actually feel like having sex anymore). Tapered off antidepressants years ago too.

Not satisfied that doctors have really investigated thoroughly enough or taken this very seriously. Mostly just questioning me to rule out obvious things, some rudimentary blood panels, no actual thyroid check yet (I plan to go back and push for that soon).

At this point, I would take the short-term results of AAS if I could do it without the crash making things worse than they already are now. My job is physical and I can't perform well with this hormone imbalance.

OTC test boosters – do you mean like DHEA, that I've been trying? What are my other options?

Thanks for the T3 info!
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Re: Preexisting hormonal imbalance & self-medicating?

Oh, also, do you think the Osta + GW (+ maybe add in LGD) is ok to continue, given my situation? Hopefully the lab results in a few weeks will provide some insight into how the last cycle impacted my hormone balance.
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Great job on the research! I'm so interested in your thread because I'm totally experiencing similar issues only maybe opposite...low estrogen, higher test. Although before I started my AAS use, I was more like you. Very high estrogen, lower test. Did you notice any difference in cutting out the aspertame? Even just general differences in how you felt? I need to do that but am such a diet pop addict.

I'm not sure which province you are in but I'm in western Canada and have found my doctor to be almost patronizing with the issue. "It's just a part of aging" and other such helpful bs. It's very frustrating.

You could try a low dose AAS cycle and see what happens. I felt AMAZING on cycle. My mood increased, libido came back, slept better and so on. I really struggled after the cycle was done as I crashed hard and felt the post cycle depression. It would take me 2-3 months to even out. The more I increased my use, the worse it was. It'd be worth a hormone baseline before and at the end just to see if your test levels actually increased.

I've done a lot of reading on natural ways to improve hormone levels. I have a couple of Sarah Gottfried (sp) books and tried some vitamin regimens which seemed to help for a couple of months. I struggled to take so many pills on a daily basis and kinda fell off that wagon. She has a lot of research on food too. You just have to get past some of her selling of her own shake products.

It's one of the most frustrating things ever and it's only been worse as I've gotten older (just turned 43). I can drop 10 lbs in a short period of time and then bam...everything freezes! Makes me crazy.
Re: Preexisting hormonal imbalance & self-medicating?

Oh, also, do you think the Osta + GW (+ maybe add in LGD) is ok to continue, given my situation? Hopefully the lab results in a few weeks will provide some insight into how the last cycle impacted my hormone balance.

I think so. Osta is not supposed to be that much of a risk and shouldn't give you any issues or minimal ones. Even compared to var. I've only read that though. I haven't used Osta. GW isn't AAS so you're good there. You can cycle GW for 12 weeks.
Re: Preexisting hormonal imbalance and self-medicating?

Well, I didn't notice much difference in my hormone balance from those changes I made like removing aspartame, though I certainly felt better, generally speaking.

I don't know much about high testosterone & low estrogen in women. But from what you describe about yourself pre-AAS, it sounds like it was estrogen dominance. Even if your estrogen was low or normal levels, if its disproportionately high in terms of its ratio to progesterone, it creates lots of symptoms and problems. Estrogen dominance in particular, along with other hormonal issues, is highly prevalent in industrialized/developed nations, especially North America, due to our excessive exposure to xenoestrogens (they mimic estrogen in our body and eventually throw hormones out of balance) and a few xenoandrogens and many other types of endocrine disruptors – BPA in plastics, flame retardants in furniture & clothing, chemicals in/on food, the list goes on, its impossible to completely avoid. Soy is a natural xenoestrogen. Some common environmental xenoestrogens are listed here:

I generally don't talk much about xenoestrogens because people with poor lifestyles tend to latch onto it as an excuse to say its out of their control and there's not much they can do. Lol. But I assume that's not the case for you nor most members in forums like this.

I've had many blood panels & tests in the past 2 years since I applied to participate in medical studies. I was always disqualified because my blood pressure is too low – 80/60 is not unusual, and I hit 60/40 a couple times during my peak bodybuilding/fitness years. My lipid profile is excellent – high HDL, low LDL. My fasting glucose levels are fine. My resting heart rate first thing in the morning is a nice relaxed 55-60bpm. My menstrual cycle is like clockwork, light & problem-free, especially since quitting hormonal birth control. I have no alarmingly high or low vitamins, minerals nor metals in my system.

So all that rules out metabolic syndrome aka prediabetes, as well as hypothyroidism for me. Unless of course I might have subclinical hypothyroidism.

Given my lab results, pattern of symptoms and hormone level changes over the years, adrenal fatigue makes the most sense, putting me currently in mid to late stage. It's a complex process and I may not have this quite right but I think it goes something like this: Basically it starts with high cortisol levels due to stress (this could be lifestyle/emotional stress or physiological stress like chronic inflammation). If this goes on long enough, certain other hormones respond by crashing, other hormones spike first and then crash. Eventually they all crash, including the cortisol. Eventually it negatively affects thyroid function too. Even long after you've removed the original source of the problem, it can be persistent and enormously difficult to get things back to normal again. I can point to the exact time when I noticed these symptoms started, and it was the most crazily high stress time of my life (multiple deaths of family & friends, job loss, relationship loss, etc, etc, back to back for a couple years). So I'm pretty convinced that's where it all began – high cortisol.

I know what you mean about patronizing doctors. Yeah, normal aging? C'mon. My lab tests show my hormones below normal, which is age-adjusted, meaning *below normal FOR MY AGE*. There is also controversy suggesting the age-adjusted ranges are too broad and end up encompassing lots of people who are having significant symptoms, negatively impacting quality of life. (So if, for example, you have levels at the low end of normal, this is probably a problem. You should probably aim for the mid to upper end of the range or aim for the ranges of younger women.) But since the levels show up within "normal" range, they're dismissed by doctors (especially those who are not endocrinologists) as fine, not having any medical issue.

I've also got doctors' responses along the lines of "losing weight is just a matter of burning more calories than you consume." *facepalm* Thanks, genius. Yeah, I don't know anything about how to do that. *sarcasm*

Metabolic syndrome/prediabetes, subclinical hypothyroidism, and adrenal fatigue are very contentious in the traditional medical community. Naturopaths take them seriously, but if adjustments to lifestyle (eg, diet, exercise, supplements) aren't enough to set things right, there's nothing else they can do, other than to advise you to take all these test results to multiple doctors and advocating for yourself repeatedly.

Regarding AAS, is Anavar the only viable option as a woman, a beginner, and my specific circumstances? I have what I think is low dose Dbol labelled as Anavar, sitting in my cupboard tempting me. But potential irreversible virilization scares me! Anything else that might be feasible? Winstrol? Legit good quality Anavar is so hard to find

I'll check out Sarah Godfried. I did try lots of supplements related to improving cardio & muscle recovery, but not specifically for testosterone boosting or hormonal balancing. Btw, amino acid supplementation was amazing for recovery. I was *never* sore and felt always ready to hit the gym!
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My wife had hormone issues and I started by using all natural alternatives(ie toothpaste, soap, shampoo)
We then used 50mg a day of dhea with prostate support(blocks test from converting to dht)
Last we added a high daily dose of iodine for the thyroid. Some combination of these things helped her with stubborn weight. When things get stressful she takes a few mg's of phosphatidyl serine to keep her cortisol in check. I don't know if any of that helps.
Ghrp's like Ibutamoren are also good for weight loss since as we age, our gh decreases.
Re: Preexisting hormonal imbalance and self-medicating?

Thanks! I had considered increasing DHEA to 50mg. How long was your wife taking it before noticing results?

Edit: Ah, Ibutamoren is MK-677, a sarm. I read logs that it does temporarily increase gh, but also increases cortisol (which is what started this whole problem for me), insulin resistance, and weight gain (due to out of control hunger)?
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The results weren't immediate, maybe a month after going to 50mg, but almost 6 months in and no negative sides. Her results weren't as good as you will probably get since she is 22. She was on the pill, than deprovera, and it really caused hormone issues and even a year after depo was still not back to normal. There could be potential cortisol from Ibutamoren, I just used that example since you don't have to pin that one and has such a long half life. Ipamorelin is better when it comes to sides. Can always add other things for support with cortisol and insulin(phosphatidyl serine and alpha lipoic acid respectively).
Our body does need some cortisol:
And you did say that your cortisol was low as well.
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