If you are like most women you are looking for a simple way to improve on the changes that naturally come with age. When it comes to your hormone health and minds sanity, you are not alone if you are feeling confused. Although menopause is a process that can take up to 10 years, for some it can feel like falling off a cliff. Hormone shifts and changes can trigger a full assortment of symptoms during your childbearing years, PMS and throughout menopause. These shifts and changes part of the natural and normal process but constant discomfort form nagging symptoms is a signal something is out of balance and needs your attention.
Today, with HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) still under fire for its questionable safety and effectiveness, lifestyle along with exercise and your choices of foods and nutrition can make a difference in how you feel and perform physically and mentally and how you look from head to toe. Regardless if you are struggling with PMS or going through the stages of Menopause making adjustments to your lifestyle can change your health, your outlook, cultivate your future and improve your ability to prevent and delay the onset of age related illness and discomfort throughout your life.
Keep in mind hearing from your hormones is good. They teach and tell us what we need to know to stay well. Using a symptom checklist such as the one available at www.solutionsforwomen.com can help you recognize hormone-triggered symptoms and create awareness of your hormone health status.
Once you make the connection between your symptoms and your hormones it is very easy to fall into the catch all assumption it’s only estrogen and progesterone that are the cause of symptoms. Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone also interact with blood sugar hormones such as insulin and adrenal stress hormones such as cortisol. All these hormones act as chemical messengers in your body and influence everything you feel, think and do and how your body, brain and emotions react. They also affect the way you look and age.
When it comes to your lifestyle, what worked during your seemingly indestructible twenties is not likely to work in your thirties, forties, fifties and beyond. The same goes for the care and the attention you give your hormone. Wherever you are in age, it is important to learn how to develop a lifestyle that is appropriate in order to maximize your health and happiness.
I believe we can create and live healthier happier lives and age gracefully and that we should do everything in our power to remain in optimum health and vitality to delay the onset of age-related illnesses and discomforts. With tremendous freedom in the choices in healthcare today it is essential to learn how to bridge the gap between traditional, complementary and alternative medicine and practice for maximum results.
When suddenly in tears or just feeling blue, being able to push feelings and emotion down by means of sheer will or medication is not a gift, as some my believe. This creates more harm then good for your body and mind. Mood can be lifted, irritability less prickly, hot flashes can be cooled, water retention released, sleep restored and cramping eased simply, safely and naturally. Our culture and society have taught us that the symptoms of PMS and Menopause are something we should deal with as a medical condition. These hormone shifts are not a disease and the drugs often prescribed are potentially dangerous. There is a sane and sound way to achieve healthy and happy hormones.
Hot Flashes: With the potential health risks of taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) still making headlines, many women are turning to herb formulas for relief. Clinical studies have shown herbs to ease hot flashes and night sweats. Some of the popular confirmed remedies are Femmerol a clinically tested herbal combination and single tested herbs such as Black cohosh, Dong quai, Chasteberry, Licorice, and Sage. 400 –800 units of vitamin E have shown to help alleviate hot flashes for some. Relax and breath when having a hot flash, tensing will make it more intense. Take a look at Dr. Andrew Weil’s information on Breathing Exercises for improving many health related issues, stress reduction and mental and emotional wellness. In making this recommendation to women I have heard back that the exercises greatly reduced or ended their hot flashes, improved the quality of their sleep and felt calmer emotionally.
Symptoms such as changes in mood, insomnia, fatigue, water retention and cramping are also helped with herbs. To help stabilize mood, having well balanced meals that include protein, the right fats and carbohydrates has shown to improve mood and energy. B complex, Evening primrose, Flax oil, calcium and magnesium have also shown to help ease symptoms. Many women tend to wake up frequently during the night. Try taking magnesium; research have revealed a shortage of magnesium seems to be common in premenopause and menopause women and can keep you from getting the rest you need. A change in lifestyle habits such as not smoking, avoiding or having limited caffeine, sugar and alcohol will help control the body’s mechanisms that trigger the symptoms and improve your health overall. You will also notice you skin will begin to have a healthier glow.
Vaginal dryness: Menopause is not a disease and there is no reason why you should not have an interest in and enjoy sex. To alleviate dryness and discomfort during intercourse use water-soluble lubricants such as K-Y Jelly and I have also heard good words about Liquid Silk. It has been said petroleum based lubricants can harbor bacteria in the vagina and lead to infection. This has not been my personal experience but petroleum will damage latex condoms rendering them ineffective against pregnancy and STDs. Remaining sexually active and reaching orgasm with or without your partner will lessen the chance of having your vagina constrict, helps produce your own lubrication naturally and helps maintain pelvic tone.
Sleep and relaxation: There are quite a few natural remedies to help you get a good nights rest. I find relaxation practices such as breathing and meditation a calming way to end the day. Taking a hot bath and descending into the tub is a great way to melt stress and relax body and mind. If I am having trouble falling asleep I have found Theanine a non-protein amino acid does the trick.
Practices such as Yoga, meditation, prayer and breathing exercises have more benefits then I can mention in an article. Yoga will keep your body strong and flexible and help you create physical and emotional balance and strength. Breathing exercise is simple and free, no equipment is needed, can be done anywhere and at any time. It is a great tool to use for relaxation, creating a clear mind and an aid to alleviate stress related health issues such as anxiety disorders, digestive problems and help lower high blood pressure. Meditation and prayer have been performed for centuries all over the world as part of spiritual practice to create internal peace and strength, connect with Self and help you find answers to create the life you desire.
Exercise will help elevate many common symptoms of PMS and Menopause and as well build lean muscle, create stronger bones, burn calories and relieve stress. There are a variety of classes available at most gyms. Try some and see if there is one you enjoy. Jogging, walking and biking are great ways to get outside any time of year. Dancing is a fun form of exercise, a great way to socialize and a wonderful way to keep things fresh and alive between you and your partner.
Some incorporate the use of Arginine products to help burn fat and create lean muscle. I strongly caution against using free form L-Arginine for it subsequent negative side effects. It will reactivate cold sores and herpes simplex one and two. Use only elemental L-Arginine as from Synergy. Elemental Arginine is safe without the negative effects and its claims are FDA approved. Elemental L-Arginine is a good immune booster, good for cardiovascular support, can give your libido a boost and used at night can help support all hormonal functions.
Eat healthy nutritious food. Everyday our cells, organs and tissue are dependent on top quality food and nourishment for repair and replacement. Food is our best medicine when it comes to creating and maintaining hormone balance and all over health throughout our lives.
It has been said ~ A high-quality antioxidant can help reduce free-radical damage to the body, boost immunity, help reduce stress-related fatigue, and increase musculoskeletal and skin integrity.
Think healthy thoughts. Having a good mental outlook and putting life’s ups and downs into a lighter perspective is one of the best changes of mind and gifts you can give to yourself. The way a women thinks about menopause has a lot to do with how well she adjusts. If menopause is seen as a tragic end to youth, fertility and sexuality it can cause considerable interference in your life, and create the temptation to “solve” the problem with unproven therapies and promises of eternal youth. If menopause is seen as simply the natural transition it is then menopause can be readily accepted and more easily handled.
I am a woman and probably not much different than you. Each morning when I look in the mirror, I see my own best healthcare provider. We know more about our bodies, our minds and our PMS, pre menopause and menopause experience, inside and outside than any doctor ever will. Pay attention to what you body is saying and listen to your intuitive sense. It can make a world of difference in how you live your life on your continuum of wellness and graceful aging.
Sabina Fasano is an educator and lifestyle coach specializing in wellness for women. For more than 15 years, Ms. Fasano has conducted research on the synergistic interaction of herbal combinations and the use of lifestyle modifications, whole-food nutrition and exercise for hormone health. For more information Ms. Fasano can be contacted at 516-766-2242.
All material provided on the Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging Web site is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Disclaimer: All information is provided for educational purposes only. Consult your physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition. ©Copyright 2005 Sabina Fasano. All rights reserved. For permission for reproduction in whole or in part please send an email to