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Old 11-03-2010, 11:45 AM   #21
Brittany Earl
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

Yes, my endocrinologist had told me that I suffer from many of the symptoms of PCOS. Her advice to me was that I should just continue to eat healthy and exercise because that's the best way to keep myself healthy. She did mention Metformin, but told me that I'm not a good candidate for the drug. She explained all the information to me about insulin resistance, and she actually thinks that BECAUSE of my healthy lifestyle I haven't developed Diabetes, but let's imagine I ate a lot of unhealthy food and did not exercise, then maybe I'd be diagnosed with it. To me it just sounds like PCOS is a general "condition" for many related symptoms, but like you say, there really isn't a specific cause or a cure. I do not have Diabetes in my family history, but possibly, through the competition diet and lifestyle, it tweaked something and caused these problems.

I could go back to my endocrinologist, just to check in again and see what else she thinks, but I just get this feeling of "dead end" every time I go there.
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Old 11-03-2010, 11:53 AM   #22
Brittany Earl
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

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Originally Posted by Jason K Adams View Post


One thing that has helped my wife is going on a mostly paleo diet. This has regulated her periods and made them more "normal".

So this is my take on it.

It's possible that during your years of competing that you possibly had PCOS and you unknowingly kept it under control with diet, i.e. high protien, low sugar consumption, healthy food. This would be the reason that you also kept your weight under control.

Now that you are no longer competing I would have to guess that your consumption of carbohydrates has significantly increased. Is this correct?

If it has, then this would explain the weight gain. My wife gains weight VERY easily. She really has to watch what she eats carefully. Carbs put weight on her FAST.
I never ever started eating lots of carbohydrates. One thing my competition lifestyle instilled in me was a discipline like no other. I am Paleo all the way + some protein powder (far less than when competing) and some sweet potato. But that's it for extras. I do one-two pieces of fruit a day, but other than that it's strictly meat, veggies, nuts/seeds, olive and coconut oils, and very low carb. I've not indulged in desserts or pizza or anything "non-paleo" in a year! (I'm not saying I'm depriving myself, I truly do NOT crave it nor want it).

At this point, I don't think my problem is with my diet, as I know it is very clean and pretty darn close to perfect. So, I will press on with the Hormone knowledge.

The interesting part to me is, why haven't any of my fellow Figure Competitors had this happen to them? They just continue competing year after year, after year!!! They just drop that weight and get stage-ready in 12 weeks. One day I hope I'll be able to help the women who might struggle with the same problems I'm currently dealing with.
Maybe it's my calling in life?
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Old 11-03-2010, 09:06 PM   #23
Matthew Marturano
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Thumbs down Re: High Testosterone Levels

I need to preface my forthcoming response by pointing out that there is a TON of misinformation and unfounded sweeping characterizations being made on this thread that are inappropriate in multiple respects. But I am going to bite my tongue and stick to the facts because getting into a flame war is not going to help Brittany in the least.
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Old 11-03-2010, 09:49 PM   #24
Matthew Marturano
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

Brittany,

There can be many reasons why you are experiencing these kinds of changes in your hormone levels. These can range from relatively benign causes such as predictable adaptations to your training regimen all the way to potentially serious issues such as a hormone-secreting tumor.

First and foremost, diet, supplements, and exercise most certainly impact androgen (including testosterone) production, and it is in fact these changes in hormonal milieu that are responsible for most of the observed effects of exercise. Based on your endocrinologists recommendation to "keep exercising" I am led to conclude that they have no concept of what kind of training program you have been following.

In particular, branched-chain amino acids [READ: protein] metabolism feeds directly into the steroid pathway [start here YOU MUST ANNOTATE ALL LINKS WHETHER WORK AND FAMILY SAFE.and follow the biochemical pathways to the right]

Also, PCOS- as with all syndromes- is simply a set of symptoms that tend to cluster together. It is not a true diagnosis and gives you little information on how to proceed. It is the kind of diagnosis one gets when their doctor cannot come up with anything better.

As for testing, there are three methods to assess steroid hormones: blood, urine, and saliva. Each mode of investigation has its own advantages and drawbacks and in order to get a truly complete picture you really need to have all three.

The piece you are missing is urine evaluation. A urine test like such as the Complete HormonesYOU MUST ANNOTATE ALL LINKS WHETHER WORK AND FAMILY SAFE test from Genova Diagnostics will allow you to gain some insight not only into your testosterone levels, but how it compares to various upstream and downstream metabolites associated with testosterone.

[No I don't get kickbacks from Genova Labs for recommending their tests. Besides being unethical, it is also illegal ]

Knowing that your testosterone is high doesn't really tell you all that much about the WHY. You need to have an idea of the levels of hormones that come before and after testosterone in the cascade to get a feel for what is really going on.

Specifically there is a hormone called aromatase that is responsible for converting androgens to estrogens that is often the culprit. However there can be many other enzyme systems (hydroxylases, lyases) that are not functioning properly and/or it could be an elimination problem involving sulfation or glucoronidation pathways.

Here is a map of steroid metabolism YOU MUST ANNOTATE ALL LINKS WHETHER WORK AND FAMILY SAFEwhich probably won't help you at all in understanding your situation, but highlights how complex the pathways are and why taking a spot blood measurement is practically useless. In these cases, a spot blood test is good as a screening to see if more comprehensive evaluations are needed, but that's about it.

I will re-emphasize that there might not really be anything "wrong" with your body, except that is adapts exceedingly well to exercise. After all, figure competitions are in many ways about how androgenized you can make the female body. The reason why other figure competitors do not get the same results is because they do not have the same physiology. This is a point often overlooked. All bodies are not the same, and will not respond the same way to diet and exercise. So any kind of generalizations about "this food does this" and "that food does that" is not taking into account biochemical individuality.

If this is the case, then backing off of your exercise regimen should result in a reversal of symptoms. I would advise to find somebody who understands urinary steroid testing and start there- which incidentally would appear to rule out both your endocrinologist and holistic doctor.

If you begin to experience extreme acne or hair loss, masculinization of your voice, or obvious changes in your genitalia, these may be signs of a testosterone-secreting tumor and you should escalate your concern appropriately.

Last edited by Matthew Marturano : 11-03-2010 at 10:02 PM.
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Old 11-03-2010, 09:59 PM   #25
Emily Mattes
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

Matthew--will you please post the studies that indicate saliva hormone tests are more accurate than blood tests, and exercise in women causes abnormally high testosterone levels with the degree of negative side-effects that Brittany is experiencing. Because I have never heard of that phenomenon before, nor have I ever observed this in any other female in any weightlifting community. It sounds dangerously close to a "Just So" story that pervades our culture about lifting, like "Weights make you bulky in five seconds" and "If someone lifts weights they're a bodybuilder!"

Brittany, please do speak more with your endocrinologist if you can. And I would also suggest patience. As has been mentioned in previous posts, your body has a lot to recover from, and I don't doubt this is one aspect of it. If you go 3-4 solid months of real recovery behavior--more relaxed eating, more relaxed exercising, more relaxed lifestyle, more sleep, more relaxing psychologically--and there are no improvements whatsoever then I would revisit this.

Right now, I wonder if you aren't channeling some of that Type-A figure stuff into trying to pinpoint what is wrong from any source that will give you a solution, when really, there may be nothing specific that you can change in an instant.

Have you looked for other figure competitors with PCOS? Or on PCOS support boards? You may find other women with similar issues there.
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:27 PM   #26
Brittany Earl
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Marturano View Post
Based on your endocrinologists recommendation to "keep exercising" I am led to conclude that they have no concept of what kind of training program you have been following.
I tried to explain it all to her, and she acted like she "understood it all" but based on her advice to "just keep living healthfully and all will work out" caused me to just stop going to her.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Marturano View Post
In particular, branched-chain amino acids [READ: protein] metabolism feeds directly into the steroid pathway [start here and follow the biochemical pathways to the right].
I took Branch Chain Amino Acids as a supplement for quite some time... as a post workout regimen. Could this have been part of my problem?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Marturano View Post
Also, PCOS- as with all syndromes- is simply a set of symptoms that tend to cluster together. It is not a true diagnosis and gives you little information on how to proceed. It is the kind of diagnosis one gets when their doctor cannot come up with anything better.
I have heard this before and this is another reason I sort of just stopped going to my endocrinologist- she made me feel like PCOS was just one guess she had, but that it really was just a group of symptoms for which she couldn't help me find a cause or a cure.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Marturano View Post
As for testing, there are three methods to assess steroid hormones: blood, urine, and saliva. Each mode of investigation has its own advantages and drawbacks and in order to get a truly complete picture you really need to have all three.

The piece you are missing is urine evaluation. A urine test like such as the Complete Hormones test from Genova Diagnostics will allow you to gain some insight not only into your testosterone levels, but how it compares to various upstream and downstream metabolites associated with testosterone.

[No I don't get kickbacks from Genova Labs for recommending their tests. Besides being unethical, it is also illegal ]
Okay, I may look into this.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Marturano View Post
Here is a map of steroid metabolism which probably won't help you at all in understanding your situation, but highlights how complex the pathways are and why taking a spot blood measurement is practically useless. In these cases, a spot blood test is good as a screening to see if more comprehensive evaluations are needed, but that's about it.
This looks similar to the information my naturopath (I kept calling him holistic doctor in previous posts, I'm not sure what to call him, but really he's a biochemist) was talking to me about. He was emphasizing the fact that often times blood tests can be useless, and for very scientific reasons I won't try to reexplain, but such as those you've mentioned here.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Marturano View Post
If this is the case, then backing off of your exercise regimen should result in a reversal of symptoms. I would advise to find somebody who understands urinary steroid testing and start there- which incidentally would appear to rule out both your endocrinologist and holistic doctor..
I am just beginning to get a hang of the "backing off" part. After my first round of posts, many of the members recommended some rest, and not just a few days.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Marturano View Post
If you begin to experience extreme acne or hair loss, masculinization of your voice, or obvious changes in your genitalia, these may be signs of a testosterone-secreting tumor and you should escalate your concern appropriately.
Thank God I have NOT experienced any of the above symptoms. I can only hope and pray that it stays that way as I work to figure this out. Thank you for your advice and knowledge.
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:32 PM   #27
Brittany Earl
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

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Originally Posted by Emily Mattes View Post
Right now, I wonder if you aren't channeling some of that Type-A figure stuff into trying to pinpoint what is wrong from any source that will give you a solution, when really, there may be nothing specific that you can change in an instant.
Yes, I am definitely channeling my Type-A mentality towards finding out how to fix myself. It's not good mentally, emotionally, nor physically for me at this point. You are right.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Emily Mattes View Post
Have you looked for other figure competitors with PCOS? Or on PCOS support boards? You may find other women with similar issues there.
I can't seem to find much about figure competitors in general. There are lots of them around here where I live, but I don't know of any who every quit. I think they are afraid THIS will happen to them. So they just keep doing it. They must be out there somewhere, I'm just not very savvy at finding the right places to look.
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Old 11-04-2010, 05:46 AM   #28
Eric A. Brown
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

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Originally Posted by Brent Sallee View Post
Saliva testing? What? Did you get blood results that showed you had high levels of testosterone? If the holistic practitioner is the first to tell you about this, I doubt it's due to his test being wholeheartedly correct. Go get a blood test of your hormone levels. If it's not high there, you are fine. Saliva tests, depending on the brand, lab, and conditions under which it were taken, are not necessarily the most accurate (especially if he's using cheap tests).

This. The incredibly low increase in test levels, particularly free TST, is no where near enough to be noticeable in lab rats, let alone a human being. Your dieting (extreme dieting) may have had other effects on your endocrine system, including negatively affecting your production of estrogen and other hormones, but the only way to tell if your ratios are incorrect is to see a real doctor and have an entire workup done.
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Old 11-04-2010, 06:31 AM   #29
Brittany Earl
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

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Originally Posted by Matthew Marturano View Post
The piece you are missing is urine evaluation. A urine test like such as the Complete Hormones test from Genova Diagnostics will allow you to gain some insight not only into your testosterone levels, but how it compares to various upstream and downstream metabolites associated with testosterone.

[No I don't get kickbacks from Genova Labs for recommending their tests. Besides being unethical, it is also illegal ]
I just looked at this website as I had time this morning, but didn't earlier... This looks similar to what I did through the saliva testing, and through my naturopath/holistic practitioner/biochemist/friend/etc.'s diagnostic company that he works with. The difference is obviously saliva, not urine. I will ask him about whether his diagnostic lab he works with offers urine testing. Sounds like it's time for a re-test with bloodwork too, since it's been several months.
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Old 11-04-2010, 08:29 AM   #30
Matthew Marturano
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Re: High Testosterone Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emily Mattes View Post
Matthew--will you please post the studies that indicate saliva hormone tests are more accurate than blood tests, and exercise in women causes abnormally high testosterone levels with the degree of negative side-effects that Brittany is experiencing.
Emily- I completely understand your concerns. However, I would appreciate if you read my posts before demanding evidence to back up claims that I never made.

I never said that saliva hormone tests are more accurate than blood tests.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Marturano
As for testing, there are three methods to assess steroid hormones: blood, urine, and saliva. Each mode of investigation has its own advantages and drawbacks and in order to get a truly complete picture you really need to have all three... In these cases, a spot blood test is good as a screening to see if more comprehensive evaluations are needed, but that's about it.
I also never said that exercise in women causes abnormally high testosterone. This is what I actually said:

Quote:
I will re-emphasize that there might not really be anything "wrong" with your body, except that is adapts exceedingly well to exercise... All bodies are not the same, and will not respond the same way to diet and exercise.
Neither of those statements need to be substantiated with evidence, because they are simply textbook knowledge. Nevertheless, I will put up references that are relevant to this discussion.

In the future, please use actual quotes of my words and not a strawman paraphrase of what I actually said.

Last edited by Matthew Marturano : 11-04-2010 at 08:46 AM.
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