Women Ages 40-59

Maintaining Hormone Balance

How often do you hear about the couple looking forward to shipping the last kid off to college and making plans for early retirement to Florida to play golf and then, bang! The wife gets breast cancer. Or, bang! The husband has a heart attack.

Fortunately for most the transition is not so traumatic. However, at this point in our lives, lots of changes suddenly occur that must be addressed. There you are, ready to exhale, to reclaim or maybe start a new life. Instead, you start sweating in the middle of the night and find that you can no longer deal with the simplest of problems.

So, Mother Nature now ruthlessly removes the high octane fuel- our hormones - that protected us from harm and kept us healthy when we were "useful". Removal of the hormones results in one thing: aging.

When we age we have heart problems, get cancer, have strokes, are bereft with chronic illnesses, and are stooped over with thinning brittle bones, failing eyesight and memory.

So, what is the main difference between those who are youthful and those who are aging? That's right, it's hormones. If you are youthful (and useful, according to Mother Nature), here is your profile. You are brimming with hormones, you are pimply, you are menstruating, you are moody, your perspiration has a strong and pungent odor and you want to have sex- all the time. It might be simplistic, but I tell you, it's a sure way to identify your position on the food chain.

Once you've had kids and they are grown, you are no longer useful and your hormones depart. The dwindling hormone levels cause you to get depressed and bloated.
Symptoms associated with menopause occur throughout life. Only at menopause when symptoms increase in frequency and occur all at once do we become overwhelmed and notice their destructive effects. If you look back over the past 20 pages you notice that almost every symptom under the 40 plus heading has appeared before in this chapter. It is reassuring to see that this is not a sudden development any longer. We experience all these horrible symptoms, at other times in our lives.

Mary is 40, successful in business and happily married. Her health history is impeccable. She has never missed a day of work, nor has she been absent from the gym more than one week at a time. Lately, Mary has been experiencing strange symptoms. She gets an occasional hot flash, especially the day before her period starts. Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night and has a night sweat, or just has to urinate very badly. She never liked sweets, and yet over the past few months she's been developing a sweet tooth. When she went to see her doctor for her annual physical and told her about these symptoms, the doctor just shrugged them off. She's too young and her periods are regular- no reason for concern. Everything is OK... or is it?

Actually it isn't. What Mary is experiencing is all too common in her age group. As we enter our late 30s and early 40s- the amount and quality of progesterone made by the corpus luteum decreases and symptoms develop. It doesn't mean we are menopausal, it just means we need a little more progesterone to balance our hormones.

Sonia is 47. She has three grown children. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and they have a good life together. Unfortunately for Sonia, her genetics are against her. Her mother died at 43 from a heart attack, an older sister now 54, had breast cancer, and her 58 year-old brother has Alzheimer's, a heavy load to carry. Yet Sonia has been taking all the necessary precautions to soften the impact of her genetic make-up. She eats a well balanced diet, she exercises regularly and goes to yoga class once a week. She keeps up with medical advancements in prevention. She had a bone density test at 45. She gets yearly mammograms, cholesterol levels, and PAP smears. Because she was doing everything right, she hoped life would stay on track for her. And so it did, until she started having hot flashes ten and twenty times a day, became depressed and lost her sex drive- and all within the span of six months. When her periods started to change, Sonia took over-the-counter menopause treatments religiously. Within a short time she was taking as many as 30 pills a day. Her doctor recommended hormone replacement therapy and Sonia refused to take it as she was scared of the side-effects. As the months progressed, Sonia found herself in a tailspin trying to play catch up with her constantly increasing number of symptoms and frustrated by the lack of solutions.

Sonia came to me looking for a solution to her hormone problems. We worked together to improve her chances of beating the odds against her genetic load. She went on the program in The Hormone Solution. Combining the beneficial results obtained through natural hormone supplementation, diet, exercise and lifestyle, Sonia felt better and more confident of having taken a proactive role in her future.
Hot flashes are the bane of women in menopause. But women experience hot flashes during their twenties and thirties as well. Their frequency increases at menopause and that's when they get addressed. Hot flashes are the result of dilation of blood vessels that occurs when unopposed estrogen dominates the hormone picture. Pulses of luteinizing hormone released by the pituitary gland hoping to push the ovaries to make more progesterone make us feel flashes. The temperature control mechanisms in our bodies short circuit because of the estrogen dominance and we get hot. Auras- premonitions- of hot flashes are common. Women report that every time they have a hot flash, they know it's coming. Some women experience extended duration- few minutes- while others describe few seconds of the hot flash. Everyone agrees, hot flashes are horrible and we'll do anything to get rid of them.
estrogen, the feel good hormone stimulates the production and the release of serotonin, the ultimate feel-good hormone in the brain. The higher the serotonin levels, the happier we are. When we enter menopause, estrogen levels drop and serotonin follows. On the outside, the aging process is robbing us of youthful looks and we are starting to feel like rickety old chairs. Between the drop in estrogen and serotonin, the decreasing quality and quantity of progesterone we make on the inside, and the changes on the outside, depression rears its ugly head more and more with advancing age.
Human sexuality is a complex matter. The scientific debate over the seat of sexuality has been raging for years. Is sexuality strictly confined to our physical plant, is it all mental, or is it a combination of mind and body? The connection between mind and body is clearly established by our hormones. When estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels are high, sexuality is at its peak. When the levels start decreasing in the 40s and 50s, many women and men complain of decreasing libido, lack of sex drive.

For many women, vaginal dryness becomes a deterrent to active sexual intercourse. Vaginal dryness leads to painful intercourse and eventually a vicious cycle develops and the woman stops having sex, which only worsens the vaginal dryness. Sexual intercourse at any age, improves the state of the vaginal lining. Stimulation of the vagina increases secretions and keeps the walls moist and responsive. With the decline of hormones and painful intercourse from lack of lubrication, women feel inadequate and unattractive. The situation may appear to be a localized problem, but it is systemic in origin.

Supplementing hormones relieves vaginal dryness, but good relationships, solid self image and optimistic outlook on life guarantee successful maintenance of sexual drive.

Read on to find out more about Women's Hormones

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