Hot Flashes… AAAAAH!
It’s all that about THE CHANGE. The time when women CHANGE…perimenopause and menopause. Perimenopause is a transitional time in a woman’s life beginning around age 35. During this time, changes occur during a woman’s menstrual cycle and in the hormones associated with that cycle. These changes affect a woman physically, emotionally, and mentally.
During a woman’s menstrual cycle, the estrogen levels slowly increase in the first 14 days of the cycle. Ovulation, or the release of an egg from the ovary, occurs at about day 14. The egg then produces progesterone.
When a woman reaches perimenopause, her ovary does not respond to the signal hormones, and she does not always ovulate. This means the rise in progesterone does not occur, and she may or may not menstruate.
What are the effects of estrogen and progesterone in my body?
Estrogen stimulates growth in the uterus and in the breast. Estrogen decreases bone resorption (break-down) and can help maintain healthy bone. Estrogen keeps the vagina moist. If estrogen is out of balance, it can cause insomnia, depression, anxiety, decreased concentration and decreased sex drive. Estrogen is responsible for developing female sex characteristics in adolescents.
Progesterone inhibits the growth of breast cells and signals the growing breast cell to mature. It changes the growth of the uterus into development in preparation for a fetus. It is a thermogenic hormone, which means it stimulates thyroid hormone production and increases metabolism. Progesterone stimulates bone growth and decreases water retention. Progesterone helps sleep and can decrease anxiety and depression.
How do these hormones change and how does it affect my body?
Perimenopause is marked by an increase in estrogen hormones. Estrogen levels fluctuate widely during the month and even during the day. This changes the balance between progesterone and estrogen. When the rest of the body is not in ideal health, this imbalance can cause symptoms like:
- hot flashes
- breast tenderness
- foggy thinking
- decreased memory
- water retention
- weight gain in hips and thighs
These symptoms can be misdiagnosed, and this may lead to taking medications that may not be needed.*
Does what I eat or do contribute to my hormone levels?
The best thing to do for your hormone balance is to eat a diet that is high in fiber and low in sugar. Lots of vegetables, fruits, and legume beans will contribute to more balanced hormone levels. Substituting unhealthy oils like margarine, shortening, and vegetable oils with healthy oils like olive and almond will also help maintain health. For more information, view the Food and Hormones page.
In addition to healthy eating, regular exercise is important to maintain healthy hormone levels. Learning and practicing relaxation techniques like belly breathing, yoga, or tai chi will also help hormones to balance naturally.
Should I use hormone replacement?
Conventional hormone replacement with prescription products containing conjugated estrogens and progestins can alleviate symptoms, but may not be safe for all women. Hormones that are the same chemical structure found in your body are the best and show the most benefit. These can be placed in creams, troches, suppositories and capsules to deliver to your body the hormones it needs in the way you prefer.
How quickly would I see results?
When you change the amount of one hormone in the body, it can affect other hormones like thyroid, DHEA, testosterone, and cortisol. The balance of hormones is important, therefore, doses should be started low and adjusted slowly. Usually, results are seen within the first couple of weeks. It can take months for all the hormones to balance in your system, so your hormone dose should not be changed until at least 2-3 months for progesterone and estrogens, and 4-6 months for testosterone.
What kind of lab testing would I need?
Hormones are only present in the blood when they are being transported from one tissue to another. Because hormones are fat-soluble, they do not dissolve in the blood and so they must be carried in the blood by proteins. When they reach the tissues in the body, hormones move off of the carrier protein and into the tissue. Hormones can be much more concentrated in the tissues than in the blood. Therefore, serum hormone levels are not always an accurate picture of what is happening in the tissues. Saliva and bloodspot testing, because they are testing fluid that is in the tissues, give a more accurate picture of hormone concentration in the tissues. We can provide a kit that you can prepare at home and send away. Not all saliva lab kits are the same! There are many saliva lab kits available of poor quality. Please do not place your health in the hands of poor quality results.
Would you like a consultation with me? Then Contact me for more information.