Thanks to the growing body of robust information and media attention, most of us know that our menopause journey begins as our sex hormones respond to the end of our fertility. Years before our menstrual cycle ceases, progesterone will start its natural decline and our oestrogen levels will fluctuate. Testosterone, often mislabelled as a male hormone, will also gently decline.
Yet what many of us don’t realise is that the impact of a change in sex hormone production impacts all the other hormones in our body too. Like an orchestra when a section is out of tune, we find that the performance of complementary ‘instruments’ will also falter, leading to the broad range of symptoms and deficiencies associated with menopause.
These are the three side effects of our sex hormones declining that we should all pay attention to:
Declining progesterone makes us more susceptible to stress:
Progesterone is often described as our calming hormone - and for good reason. It plays an important role in the production of melatonin, which helps us sleep. Research shows that not only does a reduction in progesterone make it harder to produce the hormones we need for rest, stress itself further dampens the production of our sex hormones. And, in part explains why 60% of us will have troubling sleeping in midlife. But there is much we can do to support our bodies once we understand what is happening on the inside. From considering HRT, which can be particularly helpful with persistent sleep issues, to reconnecting with your natural circadian rhythm and shifting your sleep window to allow yourself to see sunrise and sunset. Incremental changes can make a big difference.
Fluctuating oestrogen makes it more difficult for our guts to produce stomach acid:
Have you noticed that your body is suddenly more sensitive to foods you used to eat without issue? Are you experiencing symptoms associated with vitamin and mineral deficiencies despite eating a healthy diet? Are you feeling bloated and struggling to maintain your weight? Reduced stomach acid production can have a big impact in midlife. In addition, hormonal shifts have now been scientifically proven to impact our metabolic rate. All of which means it can be helpful to give our digestive system a little extra help. From smart supplementation (it’s what we do!) to upping protein, good fats, fibre and plant-led diversity on your plate. Assume you need more, not less to stay well in menopause.
Fluctuating oestrogen makes us more likely to feel stressed, triggering cortisol production and dampening the production of our sex hormones further:
Our bodies are very clever. When they sense stress, they respond by switching off our fertility to focus on survival. However, in menopause this has an additional impact: reducing the production of the very hormones our bodies are making less of already- and therefore exacerbating the symptoms that they fluctuation of oestrogen and the decline of progesterone can cause. It is why one of the most important things we can do for ourselves in menopause is to learn to better digest stress. From journalling to meditation. From breathwork to time in nature. Make it a non-negotiable part of everyday.
Our biology is phenomenal. And our bodies want to be in balance. Listen in. Work out what works for you. And you’ll find harmony.
With love Rebekah and the MPowder team
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