#1.1 What are my hormones doing to me?

Many women expect the worst and face this stage of life with a lot of negative thoughts. The stress that some women feel about what is happening makes their ‘symptoms’worse. However, evidence shows that women who face this stage of life with more knowledge and positivity have a better journey along the Menopause path.

Podcast Episode available
What is your perception of Menopause?

How we perceive things makes an impact on how they will affect us. Unfortunately, we seem to be surrounded by visuals that joke about the Menopause and all the possible symptoms that go with it, or suggest that the whole experience is miserable. It is little wonder that women anticipate this stage of their life with dread.

If you fully expect life to be full of misery as you approach menopause and don’t have any knowledge of how you can take control then yes, it could all become a bit of a battle.There are as many as 34 ‘symptoms’ of menopause if you look it up. For sure, most of us women are likely to experience some of them. Sleep disruption is at the top of the list along with vasomotor symptoms such as night sweats and hot flushes.

I’ve been there, it’s not pleasant to wake up boiling hot and dripping, to fall asleep again only to be woken up again by another sweat -and then back to being cold again. This pattern really is disruptive to our sleep and results in feeling constantly tired. Tiredness often results in driving irritability, the need for sugary snacks to get you through the day, caffeine to help you stay alert, maybe some wine to help you relax. The result? More broken sleep, weight gain, more ‘symptoms’.

What we don’t always realise is that many of the lifestyle choices we make aren’t helping! It becomes a vicious circle!

Hormones are “Chemical Messengers”, affected by every action we take or thought we have. There will be a knock-on effect to thoughts of negativity. Feeling flustered or thinking that your world is becoming a terrible place to be, will affect your life on every level.

Yes, naturally our sex hormones are changing. That is exactly what this process is -natural. However, we have many other hormones to consider in this process. Stress hormones being of particular importance. Understanding the process will help you to cope better. I have worked with many women through this challenging stage of life and the biggest message I give them is that the more negatively you face this natural process (and the less knowledge you have about it) the more troublesome it is likely to be.

Life is not ending, it’s the beginning of a new and exciting stage of our life that can bring us great joy, perhaps Grandchildren, time to travel and to enjoy our freedom after bringing up our family.

Winston Churchill famously said as we turned a corner in the 2nd World War “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”

It is very easy to blame our changing hormones on everything during the menopause! As hormone levels alter, we may start to experience signs that indicate we are entering the Perimenopause, the time leading up to our menopause. Whilst balancing our hormones is definitely on our “to do” list, it is important to remember that it is just part of the big picture. We may feel a mixture of emotions at this time; frustration; anxiety; fear; loss and resentment are all common to women as they acknowledge the changes that are taking place. I don’t know of many women who have leapt for joy, excited at the prospect of hot flushes and whatever other ‘symptoms’ they expect from the menopause!

We may feel as though the feelings and symptoms we are experiencing are dominating our life and that life becomes a struggle, this is also a natural response to what we are going through. The way we deal with this can be to:

  • Hide how we are feeling
  • Limit our focus to doing only what is essential, losing out on the very things that will help us feel good!

There are many positive ways to deal with what we are facing including;

  1. Making time for ourselves and prioritising things that help us to feel good
  2. Putting ourselves first, as women we so often let ourselves go to the bottom of the pile
  3. Talking to other women and sharing our experiences and feelings
  4. Accepting the changes and noting the positives that can come with them

I am sure every women would choose to live a fulfilling life and go through her later years feeling healthy and happy. Once you have reached menopause it is well worth putting the work and effort in to achieve health and wellbeing for what could be a third of your life.

What are hormones and which hormones affect us at this time?

Hormones are chemical messages in the body that bring about responses in tissues and cells. Thoughts affect hormones, so every thought we have, and many of the actions we take, will affect this finely tuned orchestra of messages! It is not just our sex hormones that may become off balance.
Here is a list of the hormones that we need to consider;
oestrogen / progesterone/ testosterone / cortisol / thyroxin / adrenaline / insulin

Because hormonal balance has such an effect on our whole being, it can be difficult to find the reasons as to why we may be experiencing certain symptoms. HRT is always a hot topic and everyone has their opinions on taking or not taking it. It can be a useful ‘boat to the other side’ to help us get through if we are having a tough time. Much of the way we look after ourselves and live our lives contributes to hormonal balance, therefore we can explore alternative ways of managing our hormonal balance. We are going to consider this as we go through the program.

Factors to consider in hormonal balance

Gut health
Weight management
Stress management
Endocrine disrupting chemicals
Sleep patterns

As we address each area in this program, the pieces will start to come together. Once you can see the whole picture, everything will become clear and you will see the importance of looking beyond hormones. Why not take a closer look at hormones, their functions, the effects of on them during midlife and the possible resulting symptoms in the hormone imbalance section.