New Year resolutions are something we often make, and more frequently break, but if you want some simple tips to stay hormone healthy then these might just keep you on track.
Hormones, and their various related symptoms, are not static. From the start of perimenopause through to post menopause your body is constantly changing and the factors that can affect your hormone health are many and varied.
Not all women will get menopause symptoms, and then not to the same degree. A lot of women dread menopause because of their fear of the changes that occur, but it is a natural transition. If you want to minimise symptoms at menopause these simple steps can improve your overall health as well as being good for your hormone balance.
Step 1 – Get your stress levels under control
Life is stressful sometimes, but when you add in out of control hormones you can find that symptoms such as hot flushes and sweats will respond very quickly – and not in a good way. Anxiety makes you up to five times more vulnerable to hot flushes so that is a good reason to tackle it now.
If you find yourself feeling anxious and stressed take a deep breath and find your own method to stay calm, whether that is going for a walk, listening to music, meditating or talking to a friend. Acupuncture has also shown good results for anxiety and sleep disorders.
Step 2 – Keep to a healthy weight
Menopause does mean extra weight around the middle, hips and thighs as your body switches oestrogen production from the ovaries to the fat cells of the body. Added to that is the fact that your metabolism slows as you get older, so find a form of exercise you love, and will continue with, to avoid that spare tyre. Don’t forget the more excess weight the more symptoms of oestrogen dominance you will have, and the worse your menopause symptoms can be.
Step 3 – Boost your hormone-healthy diet with good nutrition
You know how to eat healthily with whole foods and few additives and processed items, but did you know how important it is to have foods that contain the phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale? They help keep your hormones balanced as well as providing you with the vital B vitamins involved in producing mood-regulating brain chemicals like serotonin.
Step 4 – Get oestrogen dominance under control
So many of the distressing symptoms of menopause are related to excess oestrogen that is not balanced by progesterone. If you are putting on weight, feeling bloated and like hot flushes are controlling your life then take a quick look at the article below and see how many oestrogen dominance symptoms you have.
Step 5 – Protect your bones
Osteopenia and osteoporosis can start to show at menopause so make sure you are doing some form of exercise that is weight bearing. It doesn’t have to be in the gym; walking, dancing or tai chi all provide the kind of resistance that will increase bone density and help prevent osteoporosis. If you already have a family history of the disease then supporting your bones with natural progesterone can help stimulate the building of new bone.
Step 6 – Take sleep seriously
About 60% of women report disturbed sleep during perimenopause and menopause. This is because progesterone levels are falling, and progesterone helps you relax and promotes sleep. Lack of sleep will not just affect your hormones, it is critical for maintaining general good health. Lack of sleep is linked to many ill health conditions, so find a peaceful bedtime routine and stick to it as often as you can. A regular routine can really help you get into better sleeping habits.
Step 7 – Lift your libido
At menopause many women find their libido is on the retreat as the oestrogen levels fall and sex may be more painful or difficult due to less lubrication. Libido can be a tricky one to get right as it depends on more than just physical symptoms and relationship issues often arise at this time, so talking it through with your partner can be the best first step.
Progesterone stimulates sex drive in women, but it is often better to have a combined cream with progesterone and oestrogen to also provide lubrication, particularly if applied once daily vaginally.
Step 8 – Save your skin
With the declining oestrogen levels at menopause the skin gets thinner and less elastic and so less collagen is produced, which is what helps your skin look plump and healthy. For your body always use a rich moisturiser and for your face choose products with a good sun protection factor – at least 30SPF, even in winter – as sun damage is the number one cause of fine lines and wrinkles.
Declining hormone levels also affect the skin of the vagina, where it can develop into vaginal atrophy which needs to be treated by your doctor and usually involves vaginal oestrogen application.
Step 9 – Get the most from your hormones
If you are using bioidentical hormones then make sure you get the very best benefit from them. The key here is regular application on your specific regime twice daily to give you 24 hour coverage and to get maximum absorption. Hormones are best absorbed through the skin rotating between thin and fatty tissue areas, or vaginally, and need only be rubbed in lightly, like a body lotion.
Step 10 – Know your own hormonal needs
Dr John Lee – the pioneer of bioidentical hormone cream use – always said that women were the best judges of what they needed. So pay attention to your symptoms and how your body is changing, because menopause is not a static condition and there are times you may need more progesterone, or some additional oestrogen. Your dose may need to be increased sometimes, then at others you may need less. So monitor your symptoms and listen to what your body is telling you and you’ll be well on the way to a healthy hormone life.