All women go through puberty and menopause as we move through the different stages of our life journey. For some, it happens seamlessly with no symptoms at all and yet others suffer through one or both. You may wonder why this is? If you are a man thinking, this article isn’t for you, keep reading, because I’m sure you have a wife, sister, daughter, that you might want to share this information with to help them with these life transitions.
Let me first start by saying our human body is not designed for us to suffer, it is designed for optimal function, if we treat it well. The problem is modern life has us not treating it as well as we should and a lack of education about being proactive in our health doesn’t help the situation.
Over time we’ve simply come to accept PMS as “normal” and menopausal symptoms of night sweats and hot flashes, insomnia, brain fog and weight gain are “tolerated”, because we talk to our girlfriends and see them with the same symptoms and just accept this as “part of being a woman”. I’m here to tell all of you that is FALSE, our body was not designed for us to suffer, but when we live in a place of high stress, poor sleep, poor nutrition, day in day out for years on end, we create imbalances in our body, that cause inflammation, oxidation and cellular breakdown that will trigger these ‘symptoms’. The symptoms are not to be accepted as normal, they are our body’s way of talking to us and asking us to do something differently! The problem is we aren’t listening. We are too busy trying to get everything done. When the symptoms first show up, they come in the form of a gentle whisper like the touch of a feather, and if we don’t listen, they’ll next come along in the thump of brick and if we still don’t listen, they’ll finally come along with the whack of a wrecking ball! We all know someone who has been whacked by a wrecking ball, but why let it get to that? I like to work with people who recognize the whisper of the feather, as that is the easiest state from which to rebalance the body. If they are at the brick stage, it will take a little longer to rebalance the body, but can still be done…so let’s not let it get to the wrecking ball stage. To do that, we first have to start with increased awareness of a few things:
1. Firstly, you need to know that you are NOT supposed to be suffering in pain/discomfort, and if you are, seek help in rebalancing your body. It won’t heal itself on its own from this stage.
2. Slow down enough to listen, if you have symptoms, don’t ignore them as aging, genetics or seasonal allergies, instead get curious as to what these symptoms are trying to tell you.
3. Know that you CAN help your body heal, it is never too late, but the longer you wait, the harder it is, so start today!
Let’s first talk about PMS, some girls and women get absolutely no PMS at all, this is how it is supposed to be. I was fortunate to fit into this category. For some girls, it is mild cramps, and while that is still a sign of our body talking to us, a few mild cramps isn’t something to be concerned about. However, if your PMS causes wild mood swings, very heavy periods, the inability to function through your day, you need to know that this is NOT NORMAL, and you do not need to suffer through. This is a sign your hormones are out of balance, and the great news is, we can run at home lab tests to determine exactly where the imbalance is, and then use natural herbs to rebalance your hormones and alleviate your symptoms so you don’t have to suffer month in and month out. I know women who know that for 2 days of every month, they literally can’t talk to their colleagues, as they know if they do they will rip their head off and so it’s better to just take the days off work to avoid the embarrassment of overreacting to things, due to the emotional turmoil they feel inside. It truly doesn’t have to be this way!
For women struggling with infertility issues, it is very often the result of estrogen dominance – triggered by an imbalance in your estrogen levels vs your progesterone levels. When our progesterone levels are too low, the body cannot create the lining of the womb to nourish the fertilized egg and so the egg dies and causes your period to start or a miscarriage in the very early stages of pregnancy. In today’s world this is VERY COMMON for several reasons:
1. High stress has the brain thinking we are in danger and it triggers the “fight or flight” response. Too many people are living in this high stress state, day in and day out. In this state our body is producing cortisol and adrenalin, so we have the energy to run to safety. In order to do that, it has to shut down other systems, in order to conserve energy there, so it shuts down procreation, digestion, our immune system and more. In shutting down procreation, the body is essentially producing more cortisol at the expense of progesterone. But it does still produce estrogen, so we create an imbalance.
2. In addition to producing less progesterone we end up with too much estrogen because we get estrogen easily through food, as well as xenoestrogens (copycat estrogens) through skincare products that we use, plastics and other toxins. Not only that, if our liver is bogged down due to our toxic world and can’t do its job properly, it is not able to properly remove excess estrogens from the body, so we end up not being able to produce enough progesterone while not being able to get rid of excess estrogen, and we get stuck in this state of imbalance.
In addition to the above triggers of hormone imbalances, there are more factors that affect our hormone levels:
1. Heavy Metal Toxicity – heavy metals impact female hormones and bind to the thyroid causing free radical damage and displacing minerals and can cause auto-immune based reactions.
2. Imbalanced gut & digestion which impacts our immune system as 70% of our immune system is housed in the gut. This triggers inflammation, which then leads to hormone dysregulation among other things.
3. Excess body fat vicious cycle. Higher levels of estrogen can add bodyweight around the hips due to it lowering thyroid function and slowing metabolism, this then further increases estrogen levels again and causes weight gain in the glutes, buttocks and hips, and the underarms become saggy. The more body fat you accumulate, the more estrogen you produce.
4. Birth control rebound effect – if you’ve been manipulating your hormone levels with the pill or IUD or a patch, the body doesn’t bounce back right away when you stop using that, it can take 3 – 4 months on average and sometimes up to a year for the body to get back to a normal rhythm.
Again, the great news is we can absolutely resolve hormonal imbalances, as the human body is incredible at healing itself when we create the environment for it to do so. We need to address your stress levels and use herbs to support progesterone production and help the body detox to get rid of the excess estrogens. (read my previous article “Are Your TrashcansOverflowing?”
For women struggling with perimenopause or menopause, if you have some of these common symptoms, it is a sign your hormones are also out of balance and should not simply be “accepted” or “tolerated” as your lot in life – you can rebalance your hormones and alleviate the symptoms! Between perimenopause and menopause, it can last 8 – 10 years of your life – they should be the best years of your life, you shouldn’t be “suffering through”.
Here are common symptoms that women do suffer with:
Worsening of PMS symptoms (5 – 10 days before cycle starts)
Irregular periods or missed periods
Periods that are heavier or lighter than usual
Joint and muscle aches and pains
Changes in libido
Difficulty concentrating, memory lapses
Night sweats or cold flashes
Vaginal dryness, discomfort during intercourse
Dry skin, eyes or dry mouth
Emotional changes (irritability, mood swings, mild depression)
*This list is from the Cleveland Clinic.
It is important to rebalance your hormones, not just to alleviate your symptoms, because left unchecked they can lead to other health issues. An ongoing state of estrogen dominance (too much estrogen relative to your progesterone levels) can start to slow the thyroid, and this impacts your metabolism leading to further weight gain and imbalances. It can also lead you down the path of insulin resistance towards Type II diabetes, even if you are not overweight. It is also a known cause of breast cancer, so rebalancing our hormones is critical to our health.
Therefore, all women need to start paying attention to their symptoms and choosing to take action, instead of simply “accepting” them.
We can run at-home lab tests in order to assess your hormone levels,. One of my lab tests shows all 4 sex hormone levels, your cortisol levels 4 times through the day (remember cortisol gets produced at the expense or progesterone, called the “Progesterone Steal” in the fight or flight state), as well as all 4 thyroid markers, your fasted insulin and 90-day H1A1C marker as well as your Vitamin D marker. All of these are interconnected so it’s important to have an understanding of all these markers at one time, and not just look at them individually.
I first ran this lab myself back in about 2005, when my migraines suddenly got worse. Until then I always suffered a migraine the day before my cycle, so I knew they were related to my hormones, but I didn’t realize back then, that it was a sign my hormones were out of balance. No doctor had ever told me that, they just gave me a prescription drug to get rid of the migraine so I could keep functioning. However, when they suddenly got worse, I was asking my doctor “why are they now worse, if I knew that I could do something about it and fix it”, but she had no answer just a stronger prescription drug. I didn’t want that, so I instead, turned to a Naturopathic Doctor to see if she could help, and she suggested I do a saliva lab test to assess my hormone levels. (Very similar to the labs I now offer my clients today!). That made sense to me, at least it was an effort to discover the root cause of my migraines. When I got the results back, it turned out that my progesterone levels were very low…surprise surprise! Well not really given all the factors I explained above about how common this is in today’s world. So she gave me an absolutely vile tonic that I had to take for 2 weeks of my cycle for the next 2 months and guess what, after the first 2-week dose, my migraines went away almost entirely – they were now better than they’d been since I was 18 years old. For 7 years I had almost no migraines, and then they came back…
So, I went back to the same Naturopath and asked for more of that vile tonic! She wanted to do a full medical work up again, and I said, “No, let’s start with what worked, if it doesn’t work, I’ll come back – I wouldn’t be asking for it if I didn’t really want it, as it was absolutely horrible!”. And it worked again! My migraines went away almost entirely for 5 more years. Then they came back again, but this time they felt different, and I was aware that I was now in peri-menopause, so I went back to the same Naturopath and asked to run the labs again because I was listening to my body enough and sensed that this time the results would be different, but I didn’t know what the results would be! It turned out that this time, my estrogen, progesterone and my testosterone were all really low! My Naturopath was surprised I was still standing! That explained why the migraines felt different to me and now we could create a new plan, I now had to support all 3 hormones. It is very common as we get into perimenopause that all 3 hormone levels drop down. I started supporting all 3 hormone levels, and I am now at a place where I only need to support my progesterone, which I do through a cream, rather than that vile tonic, as it is the most effective method for me now that I am post menopause. As with all things with our health, it has been a journey, but I’m so grateful for the ability to run labs to get to the root cause, and then make informed decisions about rebalancing my hormones so I can show up full of energy and joy in my life every day, instead of feeling depleted, suffering from poor sleep, hot flashes, night sweats, migraines and more. When we listen to our body, get the answers we need and take action we can get back to a place of truly thriving. We don’t need to ‘accept’ our symptoms simply because we are a woman.
We do a great job teaching our girls in school about what to expect in puberty, although we don’t teach that PMS is a symptom of hormone imbalance, at least we didn’t in my day, but we don’t even have an avenue for teaching women about what to expect during menopause, and as a result, too many women are suffering through. We just don’t know what to expect, other than from chatting to our mothers, sisters and girlfriends…and then when we hear the same symptoms from so many, it’s no surprise that we normalize it. But it isn’t normal to suffer, it is simply a sign of imbalance and now that you know this, you can do something about it! Most importantly you can share this article with ALL the women in your life, so they also know they can be empowered in resolving their symptoms and putting an end to the suffering.
If you’d like to know more about the at-home lab tests and working with me to rebalance your hormones, simply go to my website and complete the contact form, or check out the lab tests I offer. You can also listen to my podcasts on this subject “Don’t Wait For Your Wake Up Call!”, episodes #9 ‒ #12.
I’m also very pleased to offer a membership platform to get your health questions answered! For Founding Members, it is only $19.99 /month (less than most people spend on their coffee in a week), and you get access to all my content, including YouTube lessons on toxins, hormones, supplements and gut health, plus my entire library of documents, delicious nutrient-dense recipes and weekly Q&A group calls with me to get your health questions answered! Learn more here. With a one month free trial, sign up today and check out my offerings! You can cancel any time, but why would you, with so much content to help you be empowered in your health journey?
Written by: Melissa Deally, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
First seen on Brainz Magazine February 2022
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.