As published in the April 2018 issue of Best Health Magazine
On the inside
By the time you hit your mid-40’s (and possibly sooner), you’ll be in perimenopause—a time marked by a decline in circulating levels of estrogen and progesterone. Within the next few years, the production of these hormones and, correspondingly, your menstrual cycle, will cease. To best manage the multitude of physical, mental, and emotional changes often accompanying “the change”, it’s important to first understand what’s happening in your body during this important time.
What are estrogen and progesterone? Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone, produced in the ovaries, and in smaller amounts by the adrenal glands, breasts and fat cells. Among its many effects are stimulating the growth of the ovaries and the follicles within them, as well as triggering the deposition of fat in regions including the breasts and hips. Estrogen also helps stave off osteoporosis by maintaining bone density, and aids in cardiovascular health through a reduction in “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. It is one of the most important hormones for women, along with progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone produced mostly by the ovaries following ovulation, and to a lesser extent, by the adrenal glands. One of its most important roles is to balance the effects of estrogen. When estrogen and progesterone levels fall out of balance (either through excess estrogen production or a progesterone deficiency), it is termed “estrogen dominance”, and is associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
On the outside
During perimenopause, progesterone levels steadily decline while estrogen levels begin to fluctuate. This unpredictable fluctuation in estrogen is one of the hallmark changes of perimenopause. These hormonal changes can lead to a laundry list of issues, including: insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, depression and mood swings, hot flashes, irregular, heavy or skipped periods, lower sex drive, vaginal dryness/discomfort during sex, and decreased memory or concentration. It’s also important to note that managing the effects of menopause isn’t just about boosting estrogen levels; it’s about maintaining an appropriate balance between estrogen and progesterone. To help mitigate the many symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, women should adopt a healthy lifestyle, avoiding tobacco smoke, limiting alcohol consumption, and striving to maintain a healthy body weight, in addition to the following:
1. Manage (and minimize) stress levels. Chronic stress in the form of sleep deprivation, dehydration, caloric restriction, or other emotional, physical, mental, or nutritional stressors, triggers the release of stress hormones which, combined with the peri/menopausal fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone, could literally turn you into one hot mess!
2. Consider supplementation. Although some individuals require prescription medications or other interventions, many women find safe, long-lasting relief from the use of evidence-based, natural support. Look for products containing: EstroG-100®, a proprietary herbal blend clinically proven to support healthy hormonal balance without the body weight changes or other side effects common to many prescription drugs; black cohosh, an herb commonly used to treat hot flashes, sleep disturbances, moodiness, vaginal dryness and excessive sweating; and sage, a plant extract shown to help regulate hormone levels and address hot flashes, night sweats and memory troubles.
3. Maintain proper nutrition. Consume a balanced diet of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains and brown rice) and healthy fats; manage blood sugar; don’t skip meals; stay hydrated; and eat natural, whole foods as much as possible.
Written in collaboration with Dr. Angèle Besner, Naturopathic Doctor at Evoke Integrative Medicine, Vancouver. Nicole Porter is a Wellness Educator who creates customized wellness programs and seminars for individuals and businesses.
This information is for educational purposes and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified medical practitioner. Consult your licensed healthcare practitioner before making changes to diet, lifestyle, medications or supplements. Inside Out is a trademark of Porter Wellness Group Inc.