Sometimes we can get focused on menopause (and andropause) and forget that younger women also face health issues that can be traced back to hormonal imbalances. Recently, I have been seeing an increasing number of women in their 20’s and 30’s who have read that there are options to improve their health and quality of life with Integrative Medicine, and they are seeking help. Whether the issue is reducing PMS and associated debilitating symptoms, addressing issues around infertility, insomnia, weight gain, chronic fatigue, depression, IBS, or adrenal burnout, there are approaches that are available that have proven to be highly successful.
So, how do we assess and treat imbalances for teens, young adults, child bearing women, and women in the postpartum phase? Though I’ve spoken about this before, let’s talk about it again. Maybe you want to share this with someone you know who may be struggling with these issues.
Stress affects all of us at every stage of life.
But it is our response to what is happening around us that determines what gets triggered in our physiology, positively or negatively. Some stress can be considered beneficial when it provides the necessary motivation. However, whenever we feel we don’t have the ability to manage our circumstances, we generate a negative stress response. Typically we get caught up in the treadmill of life with demands from school/work, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse, family, kids, and our budgets….. and don’t take regular breaks to let ourselves really relax.
Over time, this type of stress has the most detrimental effect on our body and undermines all of our hormonal systems
– adrenals, sex hormones, thyroid, insulin, and neurotransmitters. We begin to feel tired all the time, have food cravings, often gain weight, feel depressed and moody, can’t think straight, or get overwhelmed. We may also experience more PMS and other symptoms, face problems with fertility, low sex drive and how we feel about life in general.
Learning to stop to evaluate our stress and change our response to it, along with other supportive measures, can make a huge difference in getting things under control again. Taking simple yet significant steps to improve our diet, implement stress management, take daily vitamins and herbs or other supportive supplements, may be indicated for a period of time. The good news is we can revive our adrenals, balance our hormones, and feel the positive results in our life.
As clients implement these changes, they often report back in a couple of weeks amazed at how much better they already feel – even before we do any hormonal treatment.
When you are really stressed, the adrenal glands steal the sex hormones in your body, converting them into cortisol.
This causes even more disruptive hormonal symptoms like heavy bleeding, severe cramps and PMS, or halting your periods altogether. Taking birth control pills can also lower your hormonal levels, often creating progesterone and testosterone deficiencies, the latter leading to lowered libido in many women. Taking some needed hormones or specific supplements can often get this back in balance within 4-6 months. Many times, young women I work with are surprised that these natural therapies can eliminate PMS and other symptoms entirely.
Sometimes we need to explore your thyroid function because it’s your thyroid that can affect energy, weight, and your other hormones. And we sometimes need to look at other issues that affect keeping a balanced weight; you might be surprised how it is not just about food and exercise! Understanding what can suppress your sexual and sensual self along with options to help get a good night’s sleep can provide you with the tools to take action and implement positive change in your life.
As a young adult, I experienced extremely heavy menses that nearly kept me in bed, or at least restricted my activities and quality of life, for the first couple of days due to severe cramping and heavy bleeding. I was experiencing the effects of low progesterone, what is called “estrogen dominance.” You could be too.
Fortunately, today there are good solutions for avoiding these problems.
If you find yourself, or someone you know, in an “in between” place and not experiencing the quality of life you desire, I encourage you to take the steps needed to get more in balance so you can create the life you want. Make it the best life you can!
Finding (hormonal) balance amidst the stress,
Jane Kennedy, CFNP, MN, MPH