Yep – I’m nearly 47yrs old, & for the last 6mths or so my cycle has been all over the place – from every couple of weeks to 8wks apart. Now – I know stress can impact hormones; especially since oestrogen is not only made in the ovaries, but also the adrenal glands (& post-menopause, our fat & muscles makes it?!)…so increased “life stress” puts extra burden on the adrenal glands, with oestrogen production playing a poor second to cortisol. So cycle length is often the first sign women notice…the flow can change too – either lighter or ‘flooding’. Please remember…this is a normal part of life – embrace it.
This time of transition can occur really early for some women (I even saw a lady once in her mid 20’s which was scary, but possible – unfortunately premature ovarian failure), & there can be premature menopause when the last menstrual period (LMP) occurs before 40yrs of age. And don’t forget women may go through menopause by being medically induced due to endometriosis drugs or surgery, or radiation &/or chemo drugs. Generally women start to notice changes around 45-55yrs old – this is called Peri-menopause. My hubby & I joke about me being ‘peri’ sometimes – I recognise it now…& am embracing it. It’s a natural part of life, but he wasn’t too happy when I said it may last up to 5 or 6 years?!! But I am balancing with some lifestyle changes & herbs which I’ll share with you later.
Now….I like to think of peri-menopause as a similar time to puberty. Yep, there’s a range of hormonal changes from highs to lows – & with those come all the symptoms. Now we give teens a break by saying ‘oh they’re becoming a woman’ or ‘teens can be moody – that’s normal, they’ll grow out of it’….so why is society uncomfortable with natural ageing & this second transition time? During this time women are often still running the kids around everywhere, cooking, cleaning, working & maybe even studying. Much more than our grandmothers or even mums did at this stage of life….women deserve a break.
So what is going on with your hormones at this time??? Well, basically follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) & luteinising hormone (LH) begin to rise during your 30’s – slowly, as ovaries age & you have less ovarian follicles. By your 40’s, inhibin (its job is to inhibit FSH rising) starts to decline…so FSH continues to increase. Whilst this is happening you may notice your menstrual cycle fluctuating – all whilst your oestrogen levels are fluctuating too. If you happen to have some hormone testing at this time it can be difficult to interpret the results since your levels can be up & down – which is normal. Overtime, both oestrogen & progesterone gradually decline. The more gradual the decline…the fewer the severe symptoms. Hence if having a hysterectomy, it would be great to support naturally with herbs so the menopausal symptoms aren’t as severe. This explains why HRT is often suggested by GP’s during this time.
So, what about those hot flushes???? LH seems to be to blame – both FSH & LH are released in bursts every 60-90mins, though the timing of LH seems to coincide with the hot flushes. And you may be carrying a little extra “belly fat”…that actually helps increase ‘available oestrogen’. It seems heavier women have an increased oestrogen level & bone density, & may experience less severe peri-menopausal symptoms compared to thinner women. Now this doesn’t mean to ‘pig out’ on the wine & carbs trying to claim more belly fat, as our metabolism has shifted too – balance is always the key.
Also our testosterone levels decline….during our 40’s it’s about half of that in our 20’s – that’ll explain the lack of libido, energy & mild depression??? Testosterone is derived from DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate), which also drops as we age. But if your oestrogen (along with sex hormone binding globulin – SHGB) drops lower than testosterone…you may even notice an increase in facial hair or even bald patches on your once “crowning glory”.
Don’t even get me started with the peri-menopausal PMS….thanks to progesterone declining & oestrogen levels being erratic – leading to ovulation becoming infrequent, & mood swings, snappiness, even brain fog or poor memory. Plus, you’re probably not sleeping great either which isn’t helping you at all….Geez who would want to be a woman?!
The good news is that I can help to balance your hormones….from adrenals to female hormones. I love to support women during their whole life – though ’cause I’m going through this with you, I have a special interest. I use herbs, nutrients, diet & lifestyle choices to help bring back some ‘normality’ to you life…& embrace the new you.
References: Trickey, Ruth “Women, Hormones & the Menstrual Cycle” 2011
Chevalley Hedge, Michele “The Australian Healthy Hormone Diet”
Do you want to find out some simple tips & recipes to help ease your menopause symptoms???
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