Transforming Menopause: From Hormonal Discord to Harmony Restored

By on May 1, 2018

Fatigue, night sweats, painful sex, lackluster hair—if we were to listen only to the negative side effects associated with menopause, we’d think we were entering one of life’s greatest trials.

But menopause can be a beautiful thing—or, at the very least, a phase you can navigate with self-empowerment and ease. Indeed, your midlife transition heralds the beginning of an entirely new chapter, and can open up a time of emotional growth and spiritual expansion, as well as enhanced creativity and renewed vigor for all that life has to offer.

The symptoms associated with menopause, however, may stymie a woman, from hot flashes and insecurity to irritability and tender breasts. These symptoms are due to hormonal imbalances that may be related to deficiencies or excesses of six of your most vital hormones: estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, DHEA, and thyroid hormone. Typically, progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, are deficient during menopause, but there are exceptions, with the bottom line being that a woman can experience a broad range of symptoms at different times, feeling fantastic one day and plagued by insomnia and weepiness the next. Every woman is unique: some have tough transitions with physical and emotional symptoms that require careful nurturing, while others may glide smoothly through midlife, barely needing to pause  for menopause.

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Wherever you might fall on the spectrum, do know you don’t have to accept the view that menopause is exclusively a time of daunting hormonal shifts, discomforting symptoms, and a gone-for-good libido. Menopausal symptoms may challenge your health—and, it may seem at times, your sanity—but there’s a lot you can do to tip the scales in your favor. Here are 3 savvy ways to manage your midlife change:

1. Master Stress

Stress is a fact of life but the way we manage it—from coping strategies to daily habits—is a choice. Take scant time for yourself, burden yourself with too many responsibilities, or skimp on exercise, nutrition, and sleep, and you may be compromising your adrenal gland function and its ability to help you handle menopause with grace. When cortisol (a hormone that’s released when you’re stressed) is in constant demand, your adrenal glands can’t keep pace with your body’s other hormonal requirements—and at midlife, your ovaries have a “career change:” they stop producing hormones and give the task to your adrenals. But if excessive stress has undermined your adrenals’ ability to take over the job, resulting in either high or low cortisol, you may experience exacerbated menopausal symptoms of hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and mood swings. In other words? Address your stress and make necessary changes.

2. Eat to Enhance “Friendly” Estrogen

The efficiency with which your body metabolizes estrogen can be closely linked with the extent and effects of your midlife symptoms. Cruciferous vegetables—such as broccoli and cauliflower—can increase your friendly estrogen metabolism because they’re high in indole-3-carbinol, an anticancer agent that may also assist in decreasing your symptoms. What’s more, choosing organic whenever you can will help keep your diet low in xenoestrogens—environmental toxins, found in pesticides and some personal care products, which can mimic estrogen in your body and promote hormone disruption.

3. Reach for Herbal Supplements

Conventionally-trained doctors often make the knee-jerk assumption that a woman should have hormone replacement therapy if she experiences menopausal symptoms. There is a time and place for HRT, but it has more potentially undesirable side effects than other methods. To that end, consider natural support. Asensia, for example, is a supplement that contains chaste berry and encourages youthful hormone balance through its ability to bolster progesterone (and, thereby, positively impact testosterone). Vitamin E may be effective for reducing hot flashes, while black cohosh can offer relief from vaginal dryness and depression. Additionally, consider adding maca to your regime: The potent herb not only offers relief from night sweats and hot flashes but is also an especially valuable alternative to HRT because of its power to stimulate your hormonal system, thus elevating the production of estrogen and other hormones. Maca also supports your adrenal glands, may diminish your level of the stress hormone, and (bonus points) electrify your sex drive—rendering your midlife transition less of a trial, and more of a renaissance.

Laurie Steelsmith, ND, Lac, is a naturopathic physician, acupuncturist, and passionate spokesperson for educating and empowering women to transform their lives with better health through natural medicines and practices that work with, rather than against, the body’s own healing processes. She is the Naturopathic Medical Advisor to Daily Wellness Company, and the co-author of three books: the bestselling Natural Choices for Women’s Health, the critically-acclaimedMenopause Great Sex, Naturally, and her latest Growing Younger Every Day. A leading advocate for natural medicine, Dr. Steelsmith is the medical director of Steelsmith Natural Health Center in Honolulu, where she has a busy private practice and is an associate clinical professor at Bastyr University, America’s leading center for the study of natural medicine.


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Transforming Menopause: From Hormonal Discord to Harmony Restored