Healthy hormonal balance is essential for a woman’s quality of life during her reproductive and menopausal years. Disruptions in hormone balance can lead to menstrual disorders such as irregular bleeding and heavy bleeding, symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), as well as menopausal symptoms later in life. It is estimated that 30% of all women experience symptoms of PMS during their reproductive years.
Reduce Excessive Estrogen Exposure
It is now well known that one of the most prominent causes of PMS related symptoms, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breast disease and breast, uterine or ovarian cancer, is excessive estrogen exposure from both endogenous (estrogens that are made inside the body) and exogenous (estrogens from outside the body) sources.
There are many lifestyle and environmental factors that can influence estrogen production, metabolism and balance. Obesity, alcohol and an increased insulin response to glucose will all increase endogenous estrogen levels in the body.
Sources of Exogenous Estrogens:
Oral contraceptives (the birth control pill) and hormone replacement therapy
These hormones are considered “foreign” which the body does not recognize to be identical to its own hormones. These foreign hormones can create damaging by-products and metabolites which can put a lot of stress on the liver.
Found in pesticides, herbicides, plastics, refrigerants, and industrial solvents, are structurally similar to estrogen and have the ability to mimic the harmful estrogens in the body. Additionally, the hormones used to fatten livestock and promote milk production are found in meat and milk products, thereby increasing our exposure to environmental estrogens even more. So buy organic!
Keeping Healthy Hormonal Balance
There are many fundamentals of good nutrition and diet which play an important role in estrogen metabolism and detoxification further supporting a woman’s healthy hormonal balance.
It has been found that increasing the consumption of cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli can significantly eliminate potential bad estrogens in the body. Increased dietary fiber can also promote the excretion of excess estrogen by binding this hormone in the digestive tract.
When a woman’s childbearing years come to an end, she will begin to experience the first signs of menopause. During this time the body is adjusting to fluctuating hormone levels. Various signs of menopause include: irregular or absent menstrual periods, hot flashes/flushes or night sweats (80% of women experience this), mood swings, insomnia, depression, urinary problems and loss of libido. A woman’s risk of heart disease and osteoporosis are also increased during menopause.
Don’t Forget about Adrenal Glands
Not to be forgotten during menopause are the adrenal glands. Once a woman reaches menopause, the adrenal glands become the primary source for sex hormone production. The adrenal glands are two small glands that sit on top of each kidney and support the body’s ability to cope with, or adapt to, stress. Therefore, the stress of everyday life as well as the transition into menopause no doubt creates much strain on the adrenal glands. Many women have “stressed” or “fatigued” adrenal glands long before they reach menopause which makes their menopausal symptoms much harder to cope with.
Support for menopausal women should focus on symptom relief and disease prevention. Strategies should include ways to balance fluctuating hormone levels, support the adrenal glands and prevent the risk for osteoporosis and heart disease.
Learn how our WomenSense AdrenaSense® can help support your adrenal health.
Dr. Marita Schauch BSc ND is a graduate of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Canada’s premier institute for education and research in naturopathic medicine. Dr. Schauch’s health articles educate the public about health and wellness and have been featured in numerous print media. She currently resides and has her clinical practice in Victoria B.C. www.drmarita.com