Low Sex Hormone Binding Globulin
Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG) is a protein that is made in our liver and it has a very important function.
To explain it, let’s back up and talk about chemistry. You know that water and oil don’t mix. This is because they repel each other chemically. The same thing is true in our bodies. Our blood is water-based however our hormones, such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, are actually fatty. They cannot float around in our bloodstream very well on their own. Because of this, they need to be carried around by a protein.
SHBG is the protein that carries around estrogen, testosterone, and DHT, another form of testosterone. Think of SHBG like a car that allows the hormones to go on the highway system of our bodies, our blood vessels. When hormones like testosterone are bound to this protein, they don’t have any action on the body. Only hormones that are out of a car, a pedestrian if you will, are able to affect the body in some way. We call these hormones Free Hormones, such as free testosterone.
If SHBG is elevated, that is like having many cars on the road and subsequently very few pedestrians walking around. Let’s take testosterone as an example. If SHBG is high, there is more testosterone in the cars (SHBG) than there are free pedestrians (free testosterone) walking around. Because of this, our body behaves as if there is not a lot of testosterone present at all. It causes a “false” low testosterone. This can greatly impact libido because testosterone is needed for a healthy sex drive, in women as well as in men.
So what causes this little protein carrier to go up? Well, there are a few causes.
1) High Estrogen
Elevated estrogen is one of those causes. We make estrogen naturally each cycle, and we want enough of this hormone to feel energized, have healthy bones, build the lining of our uterus to have a baby, and look and feel like a woman. However, it can become too high for various reasons. One of those reasons is probably in your bathroom cabinet right now. High estrogen can come in from outside of your body through the various products you use that contain xenoestrogens. These are chemicals that mimic our natural hormones and contribute to the overall high load in our systems. If you haven’t been conscious about checking your lotions, sunscreens, face washes, shampoos, makeup, deodorant, or laundry detergent, you are probably being exposed to a plethora of xenoestrogens and other hormone disrupting chemicals.
Click here for my guide on safer personal care products and my favorites I use every day!
2) Birth Control
Birth control can be great for many reasons, especially when it comes to allowing us to choose when we want to become pregnant. However, hormonal birth control also has many unwanted side effects and can impact our bodies long after we stop the pill, patch, or ring. Because they contain synthetic estrogens, they can impact our liver in a negative way, and this is where SHBG is made. This can result in a high SHBG which will bind up all of your testosterone and libido loving hormones, dropping your sexual desire significantly. Unfortunately, this elevation in SHBG can continue even after you discontinue the pill, which is why some women suffer with low libido even years after stopping it.
If you are on birth control, it is important to take extra nutrients in addition to what you are eating as the pill has been shown to deplete some really important vitamins and minerals that our bodies, in particular our livers, need to function. You can also take herbs that help to protect your liver, such as Milk thistle.
I am working with an amazing team to develop the best birth control support supplement on the market, but until it comes out, I recommend the OC Companion formula by Vitanica. You can find it at a discount at my online pharmacy Fullscript.
Not eating enough is another cause of elevated SHBG!
In this “gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, intermittent fasting, low carb, low protein, eat as little as you can but still drink your coffee every morning and be stressed at your job” world that we live in these days, we are often not getting enough calories or nutrient dense foods to sustain our basic health, let alone enough for our libidos to thrive.
SHBG goes up when we are not getting enough nutrients, so if you want to thrive in the bedroom, you need to thrive in the kitchen! It’s so important to focus on a whole-food well balanced diet. You want to eat plenty of plants including root veggies and all the green and colorful veggies and fruits. Healthy protein is an absolute MUST whether it is plant or animal derived. And having plenty of healthy fat, especially omega 3 fats from fish or algae, and healthy oils such as olive oil are essential for optimal nutrition.
For a full guide on what and how to eat including cooking videos and lifestyle detox, join our Food is the Foundation Course!
If you are curious about your level of SHBG, this is a simple test a doctor could run for you. I suggest also checking your other sex hormones including free and total testosterone, estrogen, DHEA, and progesterone.
If you are curious about working with me, you can schedule a free 15 min consult and I would be happy to see if we would be a good fit for us to work together on your hormones, libido, or digestion!