Women and Stress

It’s true that anyone can experience stress, but women are at a higher risk for having more of it.  Stress can come from many sources such as work, school, home life, parenting, health, finances, and so much more. Women are most likely to multi-task and be the bedrock of their family. I count myself in on being a multi-tasker. It’s nothing new for me to be running two loads of laundry while roasting a chicken in the oven. I used to do three things at once and now I’ve cut back to doing two things so that’s progress for me. It's been my observation that women in general have more responsibilities than their partners when it comes to family life, so it's not wonder we need a good self care routine. Many years ago, before I was married with a family of my own, I had a client with a demanding career, a husband and baby who used to say that she could use a wife. Not for any other reason other than to delegate someone else to take care of all the mundane chores and free up more time. I couldn't relate then when I was single, but I understand now!

You may think you know what it feels like to be stressed out, but many women only notice they are out of alignment when it starts to truly affect other areas of their life.  Stress comes in many forms, and you may be experiencing it nearly every day without even realizing. By understanding the signs, you have a better chance at catching it early on and taking health supportive actions.  

Several signs you may be under stress: 

Complications and Side Effects 

There are quite a few ways stress can affect you, both mentally and physically. This doesn’t even begin to cover the fact that stress can lead to problems at home, including finances, work, and with your family or friends. Aside from those complications, it also affects you emotionally and mentally. You might have heightened anxiety, more frequent panic attacks, and severe depression. Stress also increases the risk for many physical ailments, including headaches and migraines, muscle tension, digestive issues, high blood pressure, stroke, infections, backache, eating disorders, skin problems, bowel disorders, and many others.  

What to do About it 

As you can see, stress can do a number on your entire life. As soon as possible, look for healthy and productive ways to give yourself relief in the form of self-care. What will work for you might vary based on the source of stress.  One day it could be writing in a journal, and the next taking a yoga class or going for a run. Choose healthy activities that take your mind off of your concerns, even if it’s just having tea with friends or watching a raunchy comedy with your family. Hearty laughter is one of life’s best forms of medicine. Make it a point to do it more often 😊  

What You Need to Know About Progesterone

As a woman, you have many different hormones that affect your fertility and various other functions. When you are peri-menopausal or starting menopause, it’s still necessary to have a balance of your entire endocrine system and one of the main hormones is progesterone.   

Progesterone 

For most of my life, I didn’t give much thought to my hormones, except when my period was about to happen. Whatever my friends, progesterone and estrogen were doing three weeks out of the month, was uneventful, until the twenty-eighth or thirtieth day of the month, then, “Wham!” My abdomen would feel more bloated, I’d have an increase in appetite (especially for carbs), my complexion was pale, I looked tired and was more emotional. I’m painting such a lovely picture that's relatable to the time when we were all menstruating. Now that I’m in the menopause stage of life, PMS is a thing of the past and so is birth control. It’s one of the parts about being female that I’m sure many women don’t miss, including myself.   

You might not really understand what progesterone is or what role it plays, but it’s a type of hormone that helps with many functions in your body:   

Progesterone is among the hormones women need to keep balanced, alongside estrogen, estrone, estradiol, testosterone and others.  

Why You Need Progesterone 

The reason doctors are concerned about progesterone levels is because of how much it impacts your body, if levels are off balance. Not just your gynecological health, but also parts of your body and mind as well. Your mental and physical health both do best when you have adequate amounts of progesterone in your body.  

How to Improve Progesterone Levels 

If you suffer from a hormonal imbalance, you are not alone. Fortunately, there are natural ways you can correct your hormone levels, including progesterone, without medications. Making lifestyle changes such as eating a whole foods diet that consists of healthy fats, wild fish, grass fed meat and pasture raised poultry, organic vegetables and fruits and complex carbohydrates like yams, squash and seed grains like quinoa makes a huge difference.  Getting plenty of exercise, and eliminating negative habits such as smoking and drinking alcohol also have a positive impact on progesterone. I know it’s easier said than done, but making small changes that are doable and realistic over time will lead to life log lasting changes.

If you want an excellent way to accurately measure your hormone levels you can order the DUTCH test from Dr. Suzy Cohen. It’s a complete hormone panel that will give you a breakdown and explanation of your results that you can share with your health care provider. It’s a simple test that uses a urine sample.  Before you order, just make sure to read the info about your state’s rules on the website and email Suzy Cohen’s support department. I live in New York, where the kit cannot be mailed, so I would have to have it sent to another state where I have a friend that can fortunately receive it. She then mails it to me and problem solved. It’s a bit of a workaround but totally worth it.  

Your doctor can provide a progesterone supplement, if you’re unable to improve the issue on your own. The results of the DUTCH test will help provide a better direction, when you know exactly what your numbers are. There are natural progesterone options like wild yam cream that can be helpful and it may be a bit of trial and error until you find the right protocol. Too many women just shake their head yes and do whatever their health care provider says without questioning. Nothing against the medical profession, but it’s your body and you need to treat it like the temple that it is so ask questions and educate yourself by reading and researching. This way you are prepared to make better choices.  

Did you know that essential oils have been around for thousands of years and used to improve a variety of health issues, and menopause symptoms are one of them. The Delightful Hormone balancing serum smells and works great and you can make it yourself in under five minutes! It helps balance progesterone and estrogen and has a calming effect on the nervous system. I love DIY and have made several body care products that are a part of my self care routine. You can look up websites for where to buy essential oils or you can use the company I recommend here called planttherapy.com.  

The ingredients are essential oils of thyme, clary sage and ylang ylang. Use evening primrose oil as a carrier oil for the other oils.  

Essential oil of thyme improves progesterone production for both men and women. Low progesterone levels are associated with infertility, PCOS, depression and other hormonal imbalances.  

There is always a risk when you choose to take hormone replacement drugs. For one thing, it makes your body dependent on synthetic ingredients that are not natural to the body. Second, it increases the potential for issues in other areas of your health that can lead to serious side effects that may require other medications to offset. Before you know it, you could be on several medications that are controlling your bodily functions. When I wanted to get pregnant at 41, I was told my progesterone was low. Instead of taking drugs that were recommended by one Ob/Gyn, I did acupuncture and saw a Chinese herbalist who told me a synthetic form of progesterone would weaken my ovaries’ natural ability to produce progesterone on their own. The herbs worked for me, and I knew then that I would trust my body's innate intelligence and choose a holistic approach first. Drugs would always be a last resort. Every woman needs to trust her own intuition and decide what's best for herself.  

The second ingredient for the hormone balancing serum, essential oil of clary sage, helps balance out estrogen production in the body. Many health issues such as infertility, PCOS and estrogen-based cancers are caused from excess estrogen in the body. Some of that has to do with eating high estrogen foods such as dairy, wheat, soy (most soy is processed and contributes to an increase in estrogen) and alcohol. There is more to say on this topic but I will leave that for another post.  

The third ingredient is essential oil of ylang ylang and helps with libido and stress.

Delightfully Balancing Hormone Serum 

1 oz. Evening Primrose oil (carrier oil) 

30 drops of essential oil of clary sage 

30 drops of essential oil of thyme oil 

30 drops of essential oil of ylang ylang  

Directions  

Mix all ingredients in a 2 oz dark colored glass vial with a dropper.  

Rub 5 drops onto neck twice a day.  

Note: Click on the links so they take you to where you can purchase the ingredients.  

Here’s to having happy hormones! 😊  

Top 5 Causes of Hormonal Imbalances

The experience of a hormonal imbalance may feel like a curse, but women are often left with no other choice but to deal with it. Even with the availability of treatment options like hormone replacement therapy, prescribed medications, and even changes in lifestyle, there is still a huge percentage of the general population suffering from its consequences. Lack of sex drive, persistent weight gain, unexplainable cravings, weird mood swings, and acne are just some of the most common unpleasant symptoms. If you are in that percentage of women who suffer from hormonal imbalances, the first step is to become aware and understand why this is happening. And second, it’s important to find the relief that will work best in individual cases. 

Poor Diet 

As they say, you are what you eat. If you choose to eat healthy, which may be a sacrifice for those who are used to eating junk, you will have a better state of health. On the other hand, if you maintain a poor diet, you are a more likely candidate for a variety of health problems; which will include hormonal imbalances. As recommended by experts in nutrition science, your diet needs to be rich in green and leafy vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and whole unprocessed foods to keep your hormones at a favorable level. If you are experiencing a hormonal horror show, one of the reasons would be the lack of fiber intake from your daily diet. Make sure to eat fibrous foods to allow the body to eliminate excess hormones. 

Environmental Factors

Pollution is another common cause of hormonal imbalance among women. There are different toxins that get mixed in the air, which will have a negative impact in hormone secretion. If you live in a bustling metropolis, there is a higher likelihood that your endocrine system will suffer. Did you know that even your home can be a breeding ground of toxicity? Most families use five or more chemical laden cleaning products that contain a wealth of pollutants. Petrochemicals can be found in Styrofoam, cleaning agents, and even car exhaust. Chronic exposure to unnatural estrogens is one of the leading causes of endocrine issues.  Environmental pollutants absorbed by the body, thrive in your receptor cells and inhibit the production of progesterone. This is why it’s so crucial to eliminate any toxic products in your home such as, Tide laundry detergent or Palmolive dish cleaner. Whether you inhale it or it touches your skin, it can get into your system.

Chronic Stress

If you feel stress because of work, raising a family, managing your business, or even with just the tiniest of things, there is a greater tendency to suffer from hormonal imbalances. Each time that you’re in a stressful situation, pregnenolone, which is essential in the production of female hormones, is diverted from its normal pathway, and throws off your hormone balance. If you’re currently in the menopausal stage, you might be more stressed from the thought of aging and that your children have their own lives and ready to leave the nest. Our feelings and thoughts also have a tremendous impact on all our bodily systems, including hormonal health.  

Medications 

There’s a good reason why a professional consultation is necessary before taking any medications – to make sure they won’t have an adverse effect on your body. Several studies have shown how medicine can be a cause of hormonal imbalances. A perfect example are birth control pills. Although they are commonly used by some to treat hormonal imbalances, there are instances where it has the opposite effect. Birth control pills can cause more problems rather than be the solution. Taking pills can cause an increase in the level of progesterone. Even in menopause a woman’s body still produces progesterone but to a lesser degree. Birth control pills stops your body from naturally producing its own. If you introduce a synthetic form of a hormone natural to the body, your body’s innate intelligence by design will stop producing it. Hormonal imbalance is also common for people who have suddenly stopped taking birth control pills after a prolonged use of such. It’s important to slowly ease off of any medication under the guidance of a medical professional you trust. 

 

Aging

It’s a fact of life that you will age and that can be a hard pill to swallow for some. Of course, there are numerous positive actions one can take to slow the process and do it with style, grace and gusto like exercise, eat organic, start a new career, overhaul your wardrobe and get a new hairstyle. But the reality for some percentage of menopausal women is a body and hormones that feels like it’s gone way off course. Symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, weight gain, hair loss/thinning and insomnia become a part of everyday life. DHEA, which is considered to be a precursor to estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol, is linked to an imbalance in hormones as a result of aging. More so, once you enter your menopausal stage. The good news there are health supportive life style strategies you can take to reverse menopausal symptoms as previously mentioned like exercise, dietary changes and stress busting techniques. Genetics loads the gun but lifestyle pulls the trigger. Just because the women in your family history suffered from menopausal symptoms, doesn’t mean you have to.