Aging in Margate is difficult enough for women without having to deal with declining hormones. Women in Margate often complain of a diminished sense of well being, chronic fatigue, and a loss of libido just to mention a few symptoms of hormone imbalance.
For many women there is a tremendous void in treatment of menopausal symptoms. Hot flashes, mood swings and low or no sex drive are just the tip of the iceberg. Some earlier hormone imbalance symptoms of estrogen deficiency are frequent waking at night. Many others are present, including “mental fogginess.” A woman’s short-term memory retention may be dwindling and her concentration and focus isn’t as good as it used to be. Frequently, women may experience some loss of energy to the point that they actually slide into symptoms of chronic fatigue. In addition, women may experience some mood swings and irritability, and at the extreme may actually develop feelings of depression. With the loss of energy and chronic fatigue, females find themselves unable to exercise as much as in the past, or to recover as quickly when exercising. Women often find themselves increasing weight gain in spite of attempts at exercising. One hormone imbalance symptom that is not frequently discussed is the loss of sex drive and diminished libido. Not only is energy level and sense of well being diminished, but anticipation and enjoyment of sexual activity is waning as well.
Weight Loss For Good - The 80-20 Rule!
It might be tempting to get a quick fix for hot flashes, but consider a different perimenopause treatment besides hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT may be inexpensive and easy, but its long-term risks outweigh the benefits - not to mention that it will likely further aggravate the symptoms of menopause! This outcome occurs because HRT causes estrogen dominance, a condition where there is far more estrogen than progesterone in the body. On the other hand, products that are natural for menopause-related symptoms will provide relief from your symptoms without causing estrogen dominance.
How is estrogen dominance related to traditional perimenopause treatments?
Estrogen dominance was a term coined by Dr. John Lee, the first doctor who published shocking findings on the dangers of HRT. His research was premised on the fact that a woman can experience serious health problems if she has normal or excessive estrogen, but little or no progesterone to balance out estrogen's effects on the body. Progesterone inhibits estrogen's effects on the body, e.g. when estrogen increases fat accumulation and weight gain, progesterone burns fat for energy. For these reasons, Dr. Lee suggested that giving progesterone supplements would benefit menopausal women more than estrogen-only HRT. However, his work was shunned by the medical community despite mounting evidence against HRT and the damage it causes. It's easy to see why - when Dr. Lee's research first came out in the 1980s, everyone was still caught up in the hype of estrogen HRT pushed by pharmaceutical companies.
Despite what you might be led to believe, HRT promotes unopposed estrogen. Women these days are very susceptible to becoming estrogen dominant, even when they are menopausal. The beauty products and cosmetics we use are laden with xenoestrogenic preservatives - manmade chemicals that behave like estrogen when they enter the body. Cows and chickens are also fed estrogen so they can grow and fatten up faster. On the other hand, we aren't exposed to the same levels of progesterone. Taking HRT will only skew the balance of estrogen and progesterone, causing estrogen dominance and increasing the risks of various health problems.
Risks of estrogen dominance caused by medications for perimenopause
Below are just some of the risks faced by menopausal women when they take HRT.
Increased menopause symptoms
While restoring your estrogen levels might reduce hot flashes initially, it may also cause increased weight gain, poor sleep patterns, headache, anxiety, and depression if left unopposed.
Fibrocystic breasts and breast cancer
Researchers from Harvard University discovered that the longer your exposure to estrogens, the greater your risk of fibrocystic breasts (breast cysts) and breast cancer. In their Nurses' Health Study, a study that tracked the health of 70,000 women for almost 20 years, they discovered that menopausal women who used estrogen had a 30% increased risk for breast cancer than women who didn't take HRT. The risk for breast cancer was 40% more among women who took estrogen and progestin (a manmade progesterone). Those who were taking HRT for over five years had an elevated risk that increased with their age. The Nurses' Health Study supports early evidence that HRT plays a significant role in the onset of breast cancer, even if progestin is added to balance out the estrogen.
Studies show that an increased risk of blood clots among menopausal women is triggered by two things: cigarette smoking and the use of synthetic estrogens.
Gallstones and liver problems
If you have a liver disorder, then you should definitely avoid HRT; estrogen affects the function of the liver enzymes. Research shows that women taking HRT have twice the risk of developing gallstones that require surgical removal.
Four to eight out of every one thousand menopausal women will develop uterine cancer because of HRT. Although the risk of uterine cancer is decreased when progestin is added, research shows that progestin will place you at risk for breast cancer. Other risk factors like cigarette smoking, a family history of uterine cancer, and abnormal uterine bleeding will also increase the likelihood of HRT-related uterine cancer despite the presence of progestin.
Unlike the symptoms of menopause, which are temporary, the side effects of HRT may last a lifetime. Avoid these risks and consider making lifestyle changes or using natural progesterone or phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) for perimenopause and menopause relief.
Natural Support to Increase Level of Testosterone
Are you one of those guys who are burning the candle at both ends and maybe only getting 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night? Are you also one of those guys having problems with his sex drive and feeling out of sorts? Well, recent studies done in the last 3 years show that these symptoms could all be due to the effect of sleep on testosterone - just how, though, may be a chicken and egg question!
While it's true that lower testosterone levels can be the cause of a sluggish sex drive and irritability it seems to be a matter of research opinion whether low sleep levels cause low testosterone or low testosterone causes lack of sleep.
Here's what we know about sleep, and testosterone to date as it relates to men:
After age 30, men's testosterone levels drop between 1 and 2% a year! By the time they reach 40 they start experiencing trouble sleeping. They complain of less deep sleep time, the period of sleep where the body repairs itself.
In fact, as a man gets older, the most recent studies assert, he can lose deep sleep time altogether! That means the older a man gets, the more his testosterone levels continue to decline, the less deep sleep he gets, the more his body's repair mechanisms decline and the higher his risk climbs for disease!
The reason for this decline in deep sleep time is thought to be due to a loss of neuron activity, which synchronizes brain activity. These neurons are responsible for about 20% of achieving deep sleep. They are intact in young men and get further scrambled as a man ages.
To further complicate things, low testosterone levels are thought to contribute to this loss of neuron activity in the brain. The take away of these studies, then, whichever perspective you come from, seem to say that restoring testosterone to healthy, youthful levels would likely help a man not only achieve deep, restorative sleep again, but also keep him healthier, re-invigorate his sluggish sex drive and keep him in a happier frame of mind.
Do You Have Symptoms of Low Testosterone?
One of the most frequent complaints I hear from my over-40 patients is that their sex drive has diminished significantly from when they were younger. One of the first things I do is to check a testosterone level and most often find that it is decreased. Interestingly, as well, is that they also often complain of not sleeping very much and are depressed!
Now whether their lack of sleep is from a too hectic lifestyle, stress, or from their decreased testosterone level, is not clear. However, when I recommend that they try to get between 6-8 hours of sleep a night their testosterone levels seem to naturally increase and their mood is brighter!
But decreased testosterone levels don't just affect men over 50, it can start as young as the 30-40's! Many men don't seek treatment because they think it's just a part of getting older and they're embarrassed to talk about it! Like menopause in women, low testosterone is not something men have to suffer through just because it's associated with getting older. Here are some other symptoms you may not associate with low testosterone levels:
•Emotional changes, like depression, irritability, "grumpy old man" syndrome
•Decreased muscle strength
•Loss of height
•Weight gain, especially belly fat
What Does Cause Low Testosterone?
Low testosterone levels can be caused or aggravated by a number of things both nutritional and environmental. For my patients who have lower than optimal testosterone levels, here are some other things I tell them to pay attention to in their diet and lifestyle:
•Xenoestrogens - in food and water supplies. These are "environmental estrogens" from soy products and plastics that get into our food and can decrease testosterone levels. Stay away from foods containing soy, most notably protein bars and soymilk. If you buy frozen foods, transfer them from their plastic container into a glass dish before heating.
•Lack of Protein - men need between 0.5 to 1 gram of high quality protein per pound of body weight per day to both build muscle strength and testosterone. Sources include pork, beef, and chicken, which also have higher levels of zinc, which is testosterone friendly.
•Lack of Cholesterol - many men over 40 are watching cholesterol intake for the sake of their arteries, but too little cholesterol will stop testosterone production. Aim for about 30% fat, mostly monounsaturated (nuts, olive oil) and some saturated (red meat, eggs) to build testosterone. Go very light, or leave out, polyunsaturated fats (fish, vegetable oils) as studies have shown they can decrease testosterone perhaps because they may contain xenoestrogens.
•Lack of Nutrition - zinc is a major building mineral for testosterone. The B vitamins, especially B1, B6, and B12 are helpful in keeping testosterone levels healthy. Be sure that your vitamin/mineral supplement includes these.
•Too Much Alcohol - alcohol increases blood sugar levels, which decreases testosterone. Limit to a few drinks per week.
•Lack of Sleep - as mentioned earlier, less than 6 hours of sleep a night can seriously rob your body of its repairing mechanisms and this includes the re-manufacturing of hormones like testosterone. See that you get at least 6-8 hours of sleep at night, more if you have been ill or under a lot of stress. Try some natural sleep aids like Valerian, calcium/magnesium supplements with some warm milk before bed. Cut back caffeine to not past 4 pm, and limit heavy meals to 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Researchers may finally decide which comes first; low testosterone then poor sleep, or poor sleep then low testosterone. In the meantime, I'm going to continue to counsel my patients that adequate sleep is at least a significant factor in low testosterone levels. However, before you start thinking dangerous steroids or prescription testosterone replacements, try the natural suggestions offered here. I believe your T-levels will be up to optimal levels and your sex drive and pleasant mood back on track in no time!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Institute For Healthy Aging