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Rethinking Hormones During Menopause

What if you already have everything you need?

I spend a lot of time thinking about hormones.  (I know, get a life, right?)  But seriously, so many people talk about them, and how women facing various stages of midlife/menopause either don’t have enough of one kind or have too much of another, which usually leads to the notion – the directive, in many cases – that something needs to be “replaced.”  But here’s the thing: what if the idea that you are “missing something,” part and parcel of the whole ‘menopause is a disease’ narrative that is so pervasive in our society, isn’t even true?

I think, and I know it is not a popular viewpoint, that you already have everything you need – you are perfectly designed and come ready-made with all the hormones and hormone-producing machinery you need to keep things in perfect balance for your entire life.  I’d like to suggest that if you have the flagging levels of certain hormones that are associated with a menopausal woman WHEN YOU ARE ONE, it is not actually a problem or deficiency at all – rather, it is your body’s way of transitioning to a new phase of life and protecting you from the stress of all those hormones circulating in your system. 

We are built to have different levels of hormones at different stages of life – it is all perfectly timed, and messing with it can bring grave consequences.  Think about it: we don’t “fix” puberty or motherhood – why menopause?  At puberty, we need a rush of estrogen and testosterone to enable the physical changes that launch us into adulthood; motherhood ushers in changes in hormones that facilitate maternal instincts; and as we transition out of the child-bearing years, our bodies scale way back on those hormones that we no longer need to produce babies as a protective measure.  It’s planned that way.  Unnaturally high levels of hormones, especially for a prolonged period, stress your organs and put you at risk for breast, lung, and ovarian cancer, increase the risk of blood clots and stroke, and increase blood pressure, so your body knows the precise timing to turn it all down.  And then we go crank up the volume to 11?  That doesn’t make sense to me.

Yes, the dips and spikes that we can experience as part of our transition can manifest as physical symptoms that are incredibly uncomfortable – hot flashes, anyone?? – but every transition brings discomfort.  Remember the mood swings and acne of your teenage years?  What about post-partum depression?  What we are feeling now is no different.  The symptoms you experience during menopause are simply your body’s signal that something needs to be tuned up.  Not by flooding your system with the hormones of a 25-year-old, but by paying attention to the deeper needs of your body.  What have you been ignoring, possibly for decades?  Your nutrition? Movement? Your relationships?  It’s no coincidence that many chronic diseases and stressful life transitions pop up around the same time as menopause – it’s all connected. 

Some women will always opt for “fixing” themselves with exogenous hormones, and if that’s your path, no judgment – every woman is different.  But please, before you do, stop to consider that you are already perfect.  You can alleviate whatever physical discomforts you have through natural means (and for good!) by addressing head-on the underlying causes rather than just masking the symptoms. 

Own your transition – menopause gives you permission to reclaim your health and remake the parts of your life that no longer work – it’s a pruning back.  And from that, you emerge into your Second Spring: healthy, happy, complete – and wiser for having trodden the path.

P.S. If you do opt for hormone replacement therapy, please make sure to use the right nutritional supplements to help correct the deficiencies that women naturally develop as they age – it won’t interfere with your HRT, and could even help ease some of the detrimental effects.  Vitamins B, C, D, and E, DIM, and Magnesium should be on the top of your list.  Also consider an herbal adaptogen like Ashwaganda to calm adrenal stress, and Maca can be beneficial for mood swings and menopause-specific woes.

Take care.  You’ve got this.

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