Practical Guide on How to Navigate Hormonal Changes For Women 40+
It is no secret that hormones change and fluctuate not only with every cycle, but over the years as we age. These changes can contribute to many symptoms (see list below) which for some can be benign and no big deal and for others can be quite debilitating.
The problem is that many women don’t even know that their symptoms are related to their hormonal fluctuations and hence they are not looking for solutions, they just learn to live with them and accept them as part of their life. Well we are here to show you that you don’t have to!
Hormone Fluctuations with Age:
From our teens until mid-30’s things are usually fairly stable and hormones go up and down every cycle in a predictable way. As we age however, levels of estrogen and progesterone start to decline and fluctuate irregularly.
After the age of 35, women may not ovulate with every cycle. However, our body only produces the hormone progesterone when we are ovulating, which means that women over the age of 35 become more susceptible to a progesterone deficiency and a hormonal imbalance known as Estrogen Dominance, where there is more estrogen relative to progesterone in the body.
In our 40’s and as we get closer to 50’s, our estrogen will also start declining. There is about a 10 year period prior to menopause itself, known as “peri-menopause” wherein women can experience menopause-like symptoms. During these times, hormone changes for each cycle are not as predictable as it was when we were in our 20’s or younger, and the symptoms can be all over the map.
At the Hormone Rebalance Center, we commonly use the DUTCH urine test to identify issues such as estrogen dominance, low progesterone, poor adrenal function, nutrition deficiencies and more. With that being said, a close look at your symptoms provides a great insight into your hormonal health and should never be undermined or overlooked.
Have you experienced any of these symptoms?
If you are in your 40’s and you’ve experienced any of the symptoms listed below, then there’s a high chance that you are going through the perimenopausal phase.
- Irregular or Heavy/Painful Period
- Breast Tenderness
- Weight Gain
- Poor Sleep
- Hot Flashes
- Night Sweats
- Lightheadedness or Nausea
- Decreased Libido
- Vaginal Dryness
- Mood Swings
- Low Energy/Demotivation
Understanding your symptoms and taking preventive measures, even if you do not experience any of these issues yet, can help you have a smoother transition by the time you’ll have your menopause – so it’s important to be proactive!
Here are some natural and cost-effective ways that can help you navigate and prevent these hormonal changes:
1. Incorporate Phytoestrogen Into Your Diet
Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like molecules that are naturally found in plants. When we eat phytoestrogens, our bodies may respond as if our own estrogen were present and they combined into our own estrogen receptor.
It’s important to understand that phytoestrogen are not the same as xenoestrogen which can disrupt our endocrine system! Phytoestrogens act as hormone modulators in our body, therefore, they can help you whether you have high estrogen or low estrogen.
If your estrogen is too high and you experience symptoms such as heavy or painful periods, breast tenderness, fibroid, cysts, etc. – eating phytoestrogens can help block the stronger estrogens that are circulating in your system and help alleviate the symptoms that you are experiencing.
On the other hand, if your system is low on estrogen and you experience symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, poor memory, vaginal dryness, and irregular periods – then introducing phytoestrogens into your diet can help your system bind estrogen receptors and naturally increase your estrogen levels.
Sources of phytoestrogens include flaxseeds, legumes and sprouts. Soy is another common source of phytoestrogens, however we recommend only consuming fermented source of soy, such as nato, tempeh or misso.
2. Add Maca Root To Your Favorite Beverage
Maca is another nutritious plant that we swear by and suggest to all of our patients in the center. In and of itself, Maca root is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, but it’s also been shown help ease hot flashes, increase libido, reduce anxiety or depression, enhance physical and mental stamina, and support the adrenal gland and sex hormones.
Maca is usually consumed in powder form and has a nutty and earthy flavor to it. Try adding (typically 1 tps) to your smoothie or drink it with hot water as a tea. Yellow maca is more indicated for women!
3. Take Advantage of Botanicals
There are also a lot of herbs that can help combat menopausal symptoms. However when it comes to using botanicals, it is best to consult an expert in this field and consume herbs that are specific to your symptoms.
At the Hormone Rebalance Centre, we commonly recommend black cohosh and sage to our patients. Black Cohosh functions the way estrogen does in our body and can help alleviate hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. Black cohosh is usually available in a supplement form.
Sage has powerful antioxidant and ani-inflammatory properties and has been clinically shown to reduce the severity of hot flashes. It can be taken as a supplement, drank as a fresh tea a few times during the day or applied as an essential oil to the neck area.
4. Improve Your Lifestyle
One fact that cannot be argued is that your lifestyle can make or break the hormonal balance in your body. Exercise, proper diet and nutrition can help regulate blood sugar balance, offset weight gain, and reduce perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.
Caffeine and alcohol can worsen menopausal symptoms be a stressor on your liver, negatively impact your stress response and stress hormone production and add to your weight gain.
It’s important to remember that hormonal imbalance is a normal part of womanhood and most women will experience at least some of the symptoms one time or another. However with proper diet, lifestyle and addition of a few superfoods and botanicals to your daily regimen, you can better prepare your body for the physical and emotional changes that will come about with the years.
If you are interested in taking a comprehensive look at your hormonal and metabolic markers and getting a more personalized approach to your health and your symptoms, make sure to ask about our services!