We all have to cope with gray hair and wrinkles at some point. But some of the hormone-related symptoms of aging can become even more problematic, and something can be done about them.
Women are used to dealing with moving through shifts in their bodies–they go through menstrual changes every month for most of their lives, and experience immense changes in their hormones during pregnancy. And we all have to go through the sharp ups and downs of adolescence, no matter who we are.
But what about later in life?
Many women begin to notice strange symptoms, such as brain fog, fatigue, irritability and mood swings after 30. These may be just some of the symptoms of peri-menopause and menopause.
Other symptoms include:
- Hot flashes
- Breast tenderness
- Vaginal dryness and discomfort during sex
- Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
- Worsening premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
For a lot of women, the frustration centers around their image—and their weight, the inability to lose weight, specifically. For others, it’s sleeping soundly through the night, that is most bothersome.
But not everyone has to go through these negative changes in their health and happiness. And not all women will–how much you are affected does depend on genes to some degree, as well as your lifestyle.
Lifestyle factors can worsen your chances of experiencing the negative hormonal symptoms of aging. They include:
- Alcohol consumption
- Poor diet
- A lack of exercise
Stress also plays a vital role. Stress drains your hormones and raises the likelihood that you’ll sleep poorly, gain weight and struggle to lose it, and experience mood swings.
As we age, the female body naturally produces less progesterone and estrogen, which are responsible for our brain function, sex drive, and even skin texture.
Because of these drops in hormones, and the symptoms that come along with their decline, some women chose to pursue synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, this type of HRT has been deemed to be slightly unsafe, which is why doctors and patients alike proceed with caution. Only the smallest amount for the shortest amount of time is recommended.
But a new type of HRT has recently become popular: bio-identical hormone replacement therapy.
This type of treatment uses hormones with the same chemical structure as the hormones that are naturally found in our bodies. The hope is that the body will recognize these hormones more efficiently and will be able to use them in precisely the same way. Bio-identical hormones are often taken in the form of creams or drops. They have been shown to be safer than the substances used in synthetic hormone replacement therapies.
However, before you do consider taking bio-identical hormones, or any other type of HRT to alleviate the symptoms associated with aging and menopause, caution must be taken.
Be sure to work with a doctor that is well-schooled in this relatively new type of therapy. Get a baseline blood, urinary or saliva test to evaluate your body’s natural hormone levels, and make sure you get all your hormone levels tested regularly if undergoing HRT of any kind. Hormones work together in your body, so things like thyroid problems need to be well monitored also.
Finding a doctor that will advise you on appropriate lifestyle changes to support your body’s natural ability to produce and synthesize hormones is also recommended. Certain types of hormone problems can point to nutrient deficiencies, so make sure to you’re getting enough of everything you need. One particularly important nutrient is vitamin D.
So what’s the key to moving through the aging process gracefully as a woman? Taking good care of yourself, and seeking out help to make sure you can keep your hormone levels as balanced as they can be.
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