My personal battle with hormones – Alyse Co-cliff

If you’ve ever asked a practitioner why they started clinical practice, 9 times out of 10, they began their career with a quest for answers. My career began because I needed answers to a health problem of my own… my hormones.

Like many women, signs of a hormonal imbalance became apparent when my cycle began to change. I was “blessed” with a seamless cycle for the first few years however, as the stress of study, work and relationships began to mount, I noticed my cycles becoming more and more painful (I’m talking 0/10 – 10/10 in a matter of 6 months, nausea and black out kind of stuff). At 16, I went to the GP and they put me straight on the oral contraceptive pill (OCP). Fortunately, within a month the painful cycles disappeared and I thought the problem was solved (I wish!).

At 23, I was heading to the United States on a Modelling/work visa. I didn’t want the hassle of trying to fill a prescription in the states so I stopped taking the OCP. I always laugh at the fact that I expected my cycle to return to normal straight away (spoiler alert: it didn’t). I shrugged it off and figured my body needed time to adjust so I pushed on – I was eating so clean, exercising daily, it will arrive… right? Three months into the work trip, I went vegan. I’ll be honest, I had zero idea what I was doing, but I thought what could be more healthy than vegetables? Naive? Totally.

I arrived back in Australia and after 9 months of no cycle, I booked an appointment with a GP. She offered me the pill, but I turned it down. From there the craving for eggs and fish was REAL, so I decided to go from vegan to pescatarian. Coincidently, I subconsciously relaxed my training regime and within a few months, my cycle returned. Whilst I was ecstatic, it was short lived. My cycle arrived with twice the amount of pain, nausea, bloating and fatigue I had ever experienced. There were days where I couldn’t even get up off the floor for hours. As I lie there, I thought to myself “be careful what you wish for”.

From there I did everything the internet told me to do (again, my naivety) – maca powder, magnesium, yoga, I went back to eating meat and whilst my energy improved day to day, nothing worked come “D-Day”. I had blood tests and hormone tests which lead to ultrasounds. These ultrasounds were all clear, so I was then labelled with the possibility of endometriosis but they couldn’t confirm so they just labelled me with “dysmenorrhea”. I was wrapped (finally a diagnosis!!) until I realised that it simply meant painful periods – WHAT THE HELL? I KNEW THAT!

Finally I plucked up the courage to ask for my test results and I realised my oestrogen was WAY TOO HIGH with zero explanation as to why. I found another practitioner who told me to eat more broccoli and take broccoli sprout powder for the rest of my life and I should be fine (weird, but OK). I did as I was told (SO MUCH BROCCOLI), but after another 4 months I accepted that that whilst it might read well on paper, it wasn’t the full story. I then went on to have acupuncture and chiropractic (you can read about this here) and again, whilst I felt better day to day, nothing helped come cycle time.

By that time I was so deep in the research that I decided to study Nutritional Medicine to gain a better understanding of the biochemical pathways. I discovered vitamins and minerals, I dabbled in Chinese herbal formulas (with the help of an incredible practitioner) and trialled a variety of dietary and lifestyle options and the penny dropped. FINALLY, after years of trial and error (oh so much error), I’m pleased to report that 4 years on, I have not had a debilitating cycle since.

How did I fix it? The list was comprehensive and something I wont delve into detail here. Just know it was an all encompassing process that looking back, was a whole lot simpler than I first thought.

As a practitioner, I’ve used this experience to shape the way I treat my patients and ensuring they understand the relationship between cause and effect is paramount. At the end of the day, no matter what hormones are out of balance (oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid or even cortisol), the foundations are ALWAYS the same and if I’m honest, that is where so many of us fall down.

If you’d like to talk to know more about the steps involved in balancing your hormones, you can book an appointment with me here. 


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Meet Alyse

I’m a qualified Nutritionist who believes an evidence-based approach to modern nutrition is severely under-rated. Patients are so often left in the dark when it comes to health-care and as a firm believer in the old saying “knowledge is power”, my ultimate goal is to provide my readers, students and patients with clear and actionable advice that ultimately helps you reach your full potential.