Are you losing your mind? Or is it your hormones?
Last month I shared with you some basic information on menopause, hormones, appropriate testing and maintaining healthy meal plans with plenty of antioxidants. This is a subject that requires exploration and often perseverance both on the part of the practitioner and the individual seeking guidance as well as answers.
Perimenopause means, “surrounding menopause.” This period in a woman’s life generally lasts from one to three or more years and it is a time when ovulatory cycles transition into menopause. Hormonal fluctuations may become erratic during this time, causing sleep disturbances, moodiness, hot flashes, as well as libido alterations. As hormone levels decline health concerns increase. Hypertension, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, high cholesterol, heart disease and osteoporosis can become legitimate concerns.
Yearly screenings, which should include a pap smear, complete blood workup, saliva hormone panel test, bone density test as well as thermal digital imagery for the breasts (I don’t recommend mammograms at all!) should be performed regularly throughout peri and postmenopausal years. I personally do the following once a year: blood workup, thermal digital and saliva hormone panel test. Every two to three years: pap and bone density testing.
Believe it or not, enough rest and exercise, eating with healthy diet plans, managing stress perhaps with yoga, meditation and breath work and slowing down enough to enjoy life are all part and parcel of transitioning through this phase of one’s life with ease.
If you smoke, drink excessively and consume copious amounts of coffee these can contribute to the early onset of menopause and can increase undesirable symptoms, which I term “hormonal chaos.”
During this period of hormonal changes, in an attempt to keep the ovaries functional and your body’s estrogen levels up, the brain increases its production of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone). The brain also sends a message to increase production of lutenizing hormone (LH), which is then released when blood levels of estradiol are low. Progesterone production goes down if fewer eggs are being produced which also occurs less and less during perimenopause.
The highly individual nature of each woman’s hormonal experience combined with erratic hormonal fluctuations makes it, at the very least challenging to find just the right balance during this period. There are a variety of natural, hormonal choices. The important thing is to find a health care practitioner who: A) has gone through or is going through menopause. B) If not – will help you see and find natural, non-toxic alternatives. C) Will become your advocate – lending a good ear; exploring natural resources.
Natural hormones are derived from chemical precursors found in plants (soy and yam) vs. conventional hormones (premarin), which are animal-derived (horse urine derivatives) or synthetic (provera) which is made in a lab from natural progesterone, then modified for patenting reasons.
Natural hormones are identical in molecular structure to the hormones the body makes, thus being labeled bio-identical. These natural hormones bind to fit with receptors just as if your body had produced that hormone.
Animal and synthetic hormones are similar to human hormones yet differ in molecular structure. When one of these binds with a receptor the fit is not exact, which may result in side effects.
Every woman is a hormonally varied individual – creating complications when using HRT protocols. Saliva testing is a powerful tool that takes the guesswork out of HRT. Delivery systems vary from oral to sublingual to dermal. I recommend avoiding oral as these pass thru the liver, taxing this organ and making as much as 90% of the hormone unavailable. Patches and dermal preparations pass directly through the skin into the blood stream, bypassing the liver; therefore the dosage can be ten times LOWER than the oral dose. The understanding of how important hormones are for our health, our mind and protection against serious diseases has at long last come to the forefront in preventative functional care for women. The correct HRT for you is the key to a healthier, longer and more vital life!
Deborah Arneson is President and founder of Nutrition Consultants and Healing Quest Center of Chicago. For more information on saliva testing, thermal digital imagery (in place of mammograms) and natural compounding hormone pharmacies call (312) 664-7979. For great information on a variety of subjects, tune in to Health Quest cable show every Thursday night at 8:30 on channel 19, CACTV.
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