Understanding Female Hormones

As I’m sure you know – women can be complex beings. We have a whole host of hormones which can play havoc with us on a day to day, week to week and month to month basis.

Hormones influence our behaviour, emotions, immunity and metabolism. We have certain points in the month where specific hormones are at their highest allowing us to feel and look our best. But when there are certain imbalances it can really make us feel awful. You can feel lethargic, irritable, weepy, grumpy, unappreciated, anxious, and depressed.

Some health care practitioners may say this is completely normal to have these fluctuations or perhaps to not feel 100% all of the time. But as a naturopathic nutritionist I can assure you this is not the case. There are ways in order for us as women to feel empowered and vibrant all of the time.

Ages 10-20 

When we first get our spikes of oestrogen and our bodies are starting to respond to hormones which were not there, or levels were not as high as, it can take a little time to adjust. Girls at this age tend to care a lot about social status and also their appearance at this time.

Ages 20-35+ – The Reproductive Years

In our 20’s is when we should be in our perfect hormonal status. Each day of your menstrual cycle you should have a predictable level of oestrogen and progesterone. Thousands of years ago, Traditional Chinese Medicine would say women are in their prime reproductive years between 21 and 28 years old. But, of course there are exceptions to this on a daily basis depending when a woman is actually ready to conceive.

If you’re in your 20’s you can benefit hugely for the rest of your life what exactly is going on with your hormones. Making sure to get enough sleep (8 hours is the average amount that women need), eat a nutrient dense diet with plenty of colours, reduce stress levels, stop sitting so much and every so often detoxify your liver.

Ages 35-50+: Perimenopause

Perimenopause refers to the ten years that precedes a woman’s final menstrual period. Depending on genetics and family history, most women will start to notice peri-menopausal symptoms. You may notice symptoms such as hot flushes, mood swings, ovulation and periods becoming intermittent, and perhaps your metabolism starts to slow down.

Because our sex hormone production also starts to slow down we might find certain hormonal pathways start to slow down including our thyroid, ovaries and adrenals not working quite as constantly as they once did. Unfortunately as well our brains become less resistant to oestrogen, meaning our thought patterns become slower. Uh oh!

Ages 51+ : Menopause and beyond

Menopause is when we stop menstruating on a monthly basis 12 months after our last period. Symptoms can include insomnia, mood swings and night sweats. The ratio of oestrogen to progesterone make women more likely to become depressed and gain weight – particularly around the abdominal area – ring any bells?

How Your Lifestyle can affect your Hormones

Your lifestyle and the choices you make on a daily basis with regards to your sleep, alcohol intake and social choices are all major factors when it comes to how your body responds and how to optimise your health. We all have a natural cycle on a day to day basis called our Circadian Rhythm and by getting in good practise with this we can become more productive in our waking hours and when it comes to bedtime, you will sleep more peacefully, resulting in a well balanced sleep-wake cycle. Never underestimate the power of a good nights sleep!

I’m sure you know the importance of a well balanced diet – anyone who has been on my 21 day online program before will know just how well it can balance your hormones – and we know that exercise also has a fantastic response on the body, releasing endorphins, mental benefits of keeping you feeling confident and also making you feel good about yourself also!

Sleep; Stress levels; Keeping fit; Smoking and Alcohol are all going to be the major influences on your body.

Making sure you practise more meditation and yoga for the times life gets stressful, trying to make sure you’re aiming to get to bed by 10pm and asleep by 10.30pm every night, reducing your alcohol intake and making sure you take part in regular exercise are all important factors of having a well balanced lifestyle.

References

1. http://www.saragottfriedmd.com/understanding-female-hormone-cycles/ 

2. Marilynn Glenville PhD – The Natural Health Bible for Women

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