The Hormone Rollercoaster
Are your hormones taking you for a ride? Do you want to get off and get some help?
Whether you are in perimenopause or menopause you can be experiencing a variety of unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms.
One of my emerging purposes is to help people “age without illness” (but that a blog for another time) and since menopause is associated with aging I thought I would spend some time on it here.
As you can see from the table above, you encounter perimenopause first, which leads into menopause.
Perimenopause can start as early as 35! Yes, 35. Of course, this is different for everyone, but perhaps those symptoms you are having could be perimenopause. With perimenopause, your hormones start to fluctuate and your periods can become more irregular. During this phase, your hormones are on a see-saw and levels are going up and down, but not the symbiotic way they used to. This is a sign that your egg count is becoming limited. Symptoms can include:
Perimenopause ends and menopause starts after your last period. But how do you know when you have your last one? Unfortunately, only time will tell. Once you have gone a year without a period, then you know you are there! Another way to measure it is by having your FSH levels checked. If this blood test comes back at 5 or above, that indicates you are in menopause. At this point, there are no eggs left.
And the symptom hit parade continues in menopause with:
Sorry ladies, but from the still male-dominated medical community we are generally advised to “tough it out” and that these symptoms will subside. Nothing to be done here – just nature taking its course.
However, since most of us have had to deal with period symptoms or PMS and let’s not forget CHILDBIRTH – I am calling BS on this.
It’s time to stop the suffering, which can last for decades!
Not to mention that even when we “get to the other side” of menopause, it’s not a bed of roses then either. While our bodies may have adjusted somewhat to the lack of hormones, it comes at a price.
You see with lower hormone levels we are more prone to problems such as osteoporosis, depression, anxiety, loss of collagen, heart attacks and a big one for me is the negative impact on brain health.
For example, Dr. Bredesen, Dr. Amen and Dr. Mark Hyman have all recently reported that hormones can play a part in the development of Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline. One of the tools they use to treat this hormone issue is by replacing hormone levels.
What can you do?
Whether you take action and what action is taken is truly an individual decision. Nothing is without risks and there are no silver bullets here.
You could take no action, which women have been doing forever.
Of course, the healthier you are in to begin with, the better. So a good place to start is making sure you are eating cleanly, sleeping well, exercising and have stress under control. Although helpful, this will probably not completely balance your hormones, just because as you age you make less in general.
There are natural supplements and herbs that have been reported to be helpful. Some are:
- Soy foods
- Don Qai
- Black Cohosh
- Natural Progesterone Cream
- Vitex or Chasteberry
- American Ginseng
- Red Clover
- St. John's Wort
- Maca Root
- Adaptogen Herbs
Bioidentical hormones are compounded drugs (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone etc) that are prescribed and monitored by your doctor. These should not be confused with synthetic HRT.
Bioidentical hormones should be calibrated to work for you and it can take some time to get the dosages right. However, they can be game changers for people.
There are some concerns with bioidentical hormones….
For instance, according to Dr. Axe, “ one concern with the use of BHRT is using a custom-mixed solution that has not been FDA-tested. According to the FDA, other concerns can include disguising/leaving untreated symptoms that are really caused by another illness (such as an autoimmune disorder or dietary intolerance) or potential side effects like raising the risk for blood clots, stroke, gallbladder disease, vision changes, skin changes, mood swings, and possibly heart disease or breast cancer.”
However, the long-term effects have not been studied adequately and with most treatments such as this you have to examine who is doing the studies and what agenda they may have. Unfortunately science has been corrupted by Big Pharma, making it difficult to reach a solid determination on many health issues.
On the other hand, being low or having unbalanced hormones can open yourself up to the same issues and leaving your brain on the decline.
This is why you have to judge for your own situation and choose for yourself. There is no shortcut here – the more you educate yourself the better decision you can make. Working with a health coach, can help you to explore the different options in more detail and try and experiment with different approaches.