Many women are at their breaking points. They can’t sleep, they are gaining weight, their memory is not as good as it used to and they are stressed, tired and irritable. Many of their symptoms are related to their hormones being out of balance. Regardless of what stage of life you are in, balancing your hormones can enable you to cope with daily life stressors as well as mind and body changes that can make you anxious or depressed. You have more control than what you think you do and can improve the quality of life. What stage are you in?
PMS is cyclical and starting the 2nd to 3rd week after their first day of bleeding, women become wired and tired. They make estrogen a hormone that gives energy and growth. Too much energy and growth make a woman feel anxious, irritable and impatient as well as unable to wind down and fall asleep or stay asleep. Some women experience migraines or headaches that occur with their cycle. Too much growth can manifest as fluid retention, weight gain, cysts of the breasts and/or ovaries, growth of the uterine lining which makes for heavy and/or irregular periods and cramps. Many of these symptoms are due to not enough progesterone.
Perimenopause is similar to PMS, but it is not always cyclical. It can last longer and be erratic. It is a time of life when mood swings and irregular unpredictable periods – shortened, lengthened, heavy or light can occur. They can also develop cysts in their breasts and ovaries as well as fibroids in their uterus. Women notice the changes in their weight, energy, mood and body during this phase of life and feel out of control and helpless to do anything about it. This state can last over 10 years and is a very difficult time of life for many. It falls during a time of heightened responsibility and the anxiety, irritability and lack of sleep can damage relationships and careers.
The definition of menopause is one year without a period. It is marked by low estrogen leading to hot flashes, night sweats, dry eyes, skin and vagina, lack of memory or word recall, lack of sleep and irritability and depression. Many women describe it as if a light has gone out. Some lack joy, motivation, and their libido. Thoughts in the back of their mind can sometimes be gloomy such as “Is this how I have to live? And “Things will only get worse and there is no hope or help. “
The symptoms in PMS and perimenopause are called estrogen dominance. You may make plenty of estrogen but not enough progesterone to balance it. Women make sufficient estrogen but do not make enough of the calming progesterone that mitigates the above-mentioned symptoms. Progesterone comes from ovulation and many things can alter the balance of estrogen and progesterone. During PMS, many things can interfere with ovulation. In later years women run out of eggs. In menopause you make some estrogen in your fat and adrenal glands but this type does not protect you from symptoms, bone loss and heart disease and with no eggs left, you don’t make the calming, feel good progesterone.
Regardless of the stage of life you are in, there is a lot of things that can improve the quality of your life and manage your mood, energy, weight and hormones naturally.
- Blood sugar regulation plays a big role in mood, energy and weight and can decrease insulin resistance that can impair ovulation and progesterone production. Blood sugar swings can heighten insomnia, increase the stress hormone cortisol which ages you, increase your weight, hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings.
- Eat whole foods. You may be tired of hearing it but whole, unprocessed foods time release any sugars in the fruit or vegetable you are eating. If it is a box or bag, it is probably processed. Don’t fall for the marketing ploy that vegetable chips are healthy. You can’t pick a chip from the ground and eat it. It is processed.
- Eat fewer simple carbohydrates and sugars. That also includes alcohol. If you want good energy, stable moods, ideal weight and less hormone havoc, these should be considered treats.
- Get your bile flowing. Bile binds toxins. You can stimulate bile production by chewing thoroughly, taking your time to eat, and relaxing while you eat. This enables you to make digestive enzymes and bile that will bind and release toxins.
- Digestive bitters help your bile flow.
- Eat more liver-supporting foods include bitter greens, dandelion, milk thistle, berries, and beetroot.
- Ginseng can promote liver and bile production and give you some energy. It may also increase blood flow to the brain.
- Take a dump! Bowel movements release toxins. If you don’t move your bowels 1-3 times a day, you are sitting on a toxic waste dump and many of the toxins you want to get rid of will be reabsorbed. Constipation is also linked to depression.
- Add fiber. A fiber that works by bulking up the stool and binding toxins such as psyllium husk is best. Start low and go slow to avoid gas.
- Magnesium is a magnificent mineral that can relax you, give you energy and support over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Take magnesium citrate if you are constipated, magnesium glycinate if you don’t need a laxative effect.
- Detox from toxins. The environment is filled with chemicals like herbicides, pesticides, BPA in plastic and pollutants that mimic estrogen and cause weight gain, and disruption of your hormone, nervous and immune system. They also cause inflammation which is the root cause of chronic illness. The Environmental Working Group rates foods and products that can enhance or harm your health.
- Eat organic as much as possible.
- Use chemical free personal care and cleaning products
- Do a detox and elimination diet to allow your liver to process your hormones. It will help your liver remove toxins and unwanted hormone metabolites.
- Try our Signature Detox and Elimination Diet delivered that supports you with coaching or The DIY online Shake Bake and Salad Slimdown. Both will give you the strategies and supplements to help you feel light, clear, slim, sharp and supercharged.
- Supplements for detoxification and hormone balance. There are a variety of products that I use. My favorite contains most of these ingredients.
- Diindolymethane (DIM) supports detoxification and healthy balance of estrogen breakdown products shifting from a damaging metabolite to a more benign metabolite to decrease the risk of breast cancer.
- Glucoraphanin and its metabolite sulforaphane are promote detoxification enzymes and may help support healthy estrogen balance and prevent DNA damage.
- Calcium d glucarate prevents bile from releasing toxic metabolites that can be reabsorbed.
- Resveratrol and N acetyl cysteine (NAC) blocks the formation of toxic metabolites and prevents DNA damage.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Last but not least consider bioidentical hormone replacement. Women are scared of taking hormones because they believe they cause breast cancer. Lack of hormones can lead to all of the states symptoms as well as increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, the #1 killer in women and bone loss.
One must weigh the risks versus benefits and look at the quality of life that you are living on a daily basis versus a potential risk. Many women fear cancer, clots and other problems from hormones outlined in old studies. While no treatment provides zero risk, doing nothing can also be a risk. Consider the statistics:
- Progesterone that is bioidentical has been shown to have less risk of breast cancer, clots, and gallbladder disease that can be increased with synthetic progestins found in birth control and other synthetic hormone preparations. It can be a lifesaver if you have PMS or in perimenopause and can be used with estrogen replacement during menopause.
- In the E3N study natural, bioidentical progesterone decreased the risk of breast cancer. The combination of bioidentical estrogen and progesterone during the first 5 years post menopause had the same risk of not taking any hormones.
- Hormone replacement therapy did not increase the risk of heart disease.
- Estrogen use alone in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) had 7 fewer cases of breast cancer and the risk of breast cancer was reduced by 21% over a 13 year follow up even after stopping. It was the combination with a synthetic progestin that increased the risk of breast cancer.
- The principal investigator for the WHI said that he findings of the WHI were misinterpreted. There was no statistically significant harm for either breast cancer or heart attacks for women who began replacement therapy before age 60.
There are many things that you can do to balance your hormones on your own. When the quality of your life has deteriorated, consider consulting with someone like Dr. Maita who has expertise in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and can help you weigh the risks and benefits.