Are you over 40? Are you just not feeling yourself anymore. Nothing is quite working as it used to, and you feel there is a slow but very real decline in most of your body functions?
Did you realise that menopause doesn't happen over night?
We don't have regular hormones one day, and then no period the next. We go through a second reversed puberty! Because after decades of monthly bleeding, childbirth, PMS, and all the other wonderful treats of female hormones... why shouldn't we?
Sadly, if you go to a Dr and ask if you may be menopausal, they will test your hormone levels and say; nope, you are not menopausal! And then suddenly one day when everything has been going to sh*t for a quite a while, they may say: Oh yeah, now you are!
So even if it doesn't happen suddenly, why do tests not show what's going on?
Well, as the years start turning towards the end of your fertile years, your ovaries start struggling to make oestrogen and progesterone to keep up with your body's expectations. Your brain has a regulatory gland (hypothalamus) which is constantly checking levels of hormones (and everything else) in the blood. If there isn't enough, it will tell another gland (pituitary) to send a signal to the ovaries to produce more hormones.
So, as the ovaries start struggling, the brain gets more insistent, and the signals stronger, and sometimes the ovaries surge and can meet demand. Until one day, they can't.
During this time of surge and fluctuating hormonal signals, you have days with low oestrogen and days with high progesterone. Low progesterone may cause anxiety and some depressed feelings, but is not often talked about when menopause is discussed. And in many ways oestrogen is the main culprit, as fluctuations can cause lots of different symptoms;
joint pain/ painful feet on standing in the morning is common.
dry skin, dry v-jayjay.
loss of skin elasticity.
brain fog, or "intellectual dysfunction" (this is my expression).
irritability and extreme moodiness.
irregular bleeding, even just a small change in your regular pattern.
heavier bleeding, more pain, more cramps.
general inflammation, pain everywhere.
gut problems, mainly constipation.
The menstrual changes that can first be seen is increased bleeding, and sometimes more pain, more cramping, and even more endometriosis (if you have that)... These "more" symptoms happen due to the brains extra strong signalling for hormones, as the fluctuations can cause higher oestrogen, which can cause problems which seem opposite to menopause.
The weight gain
One of the most frustrating signs of peri-menopause, is weight gain. It's weight around the waist, and it's hard to shift. This happens because you can actually make oestrogen in your fat cells. So it's the body's way of regulating and making up for the failing ovaries.
In addition, the oestrogen fluctuations also affect your thyroid, and your cortisol levels, both which will definitely impact your weight, and especially WHERE you carry your weight.
So what can we do?
You can support your body with good food and low impact exercise (avoid HIIT classes as they raise the cortisol even more and high cortisol is the last thing you want as this age). Targeted nutrients, herbs, more water, more fibre, more sleep, better sleep, less stress...
Which is easier said than done! Because what woman in her 40's isn't at the height of all the stressful things in her life? Kids, career, house, husband, weight gain... It all adds up!!!
Go see a naturopath!
Yes, this is a sales pitch, because we can actually help you. Whilst the Dr will tell you to not worry about your hormones until your period is completely gone, and that everyone gets a bit tired in their 40's... this does not have to be true. There are plenty of ways to make you feel alive again, and start enjoying your life, even after 40!