Testosterone...is often thought of as the “male” hormone which is correct, but we need it too. Surprisingly women produce three times as much testosterone than oestrogen before the menopause !
Testosterone is made in the ovaries and also in the adrenal glands (the small glands near your kidneys). As we get older testosterone declines with the result that your libido drops and in fact when you do have sex, it may not be as pleasurable as it used to be. There is also some research indicating that having lower testosterone can affect your mood and result in low mood and depression.
Testosterone is also very important for bone strength, heart health, cognitive performance, energy levels and general feelings of well-being.
Remember however this can go both ways and for some women there may be a time when testosterone becomes dominant and they can have symptoms like acne, excess hair growth and even a deepening voice.
No wonder no one menopause experience is the same and no wonder there are so many symptoms
Progesterone is the next hormone that goes out of balance in perimenopause. We always think of this as the essential hormone for fertility and the name itself means 'promoting gestation'. In perimenopause these levels start to decline and can be responsible for weight gain, bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings, irritability and depression. It's role in our bodies goes even further and we now know it is very important for brain function and hence the name 'neurosteroid' . Being so important to the brain it comes from two different places to reach it, firstly cells in the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system all make progesterone from cholesterol. Secondly, progesterone that is moving around in our bloodstream has direct access to the brain and nerves.
The good news is you can balance and promote progesterone levels through food.
The best food sources are :
Vitamin C (fruit & veg),
Zinc (cashew, pumpkin seeds),
Magnesium (Cashews, leafy greens such as kale, pumpkin seeds, black beans, lentils and other legumes, cacao, mackerel fish and whole grain brown rice),
Vitamin E (Sunflower seeds, almonds, and hazelnuts and in smaller amounts: avocado, sunflower seeds, red peppers, pumpkin, asparagus, butternut squash, broccoli and mango),
Vitamin B6 (salmon, tuna, bananas, spinach, walnuts, beef, chicken, sweet potato, beans and prunes.),
Fiber (Flaxseed, quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff, gluten-free oats)
and finally the amino acid L-Arginine (Lentils and chickpeas, fish, such as salmon, tuna and trout, turkey, chicken, pork, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and dairy foods (if well tolerated).
Perimenopause is the body telling you your fertile days are coming to a close and menopause is the door closing on fertility.
Oestrogen levels change and reduce so our bodies no longer produce eggs, this would be fine if oestrogen was just responsible for egg production but that's not the case. Oestrogen affects nearly every cell in our bodies so hence why we experience symptoms and also why no women will experience menopause in the exact same way...one might get hot flushes (oestrogen) to beat the band, another might never get them but might suffer anxiety or palpitations (progesterone). As egg production is no longer required oestrogen is now produced in other areas like the skin and adrenal glands.
Hot flushes, nights sweats, headaches, mood swings, vaginal dryness, membrane thinning, urinary incontinence all these symptoms point to oestrogen deficiency.
There is another shift too...Oestrogen is also the 'nurturing hormone', the one in ample supply after childbirth. At midlife this nurturing hormone is still around but it's focus changes – we start to look at our lives and reassess - our needs come back up the front. It's a whole new chapter
Hormones ....we often underestimate the importance of these chemical messengers, like signposts directing our bodies functions every minute of the day. Perimenopause is their time in the limelight when they really show us their power 💥
Oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone are the key ones at this stage and when the levels change that's when the symptoms kick in and whilst our bodies are designed to handle this change in hormones, lifestyle factors can make this natural transition harder. Also as we age we tend to be more nutritionally depleted and our absorption of key nutrients is not what is was when we are younger...all of this leads to the importance of a healthy lifestyle, keeping a eye on your eight, incorporating relaxation habit's and being socially active.
Bringing you the latest research and health tips to help you navigate perimenopause and beyond