Updated 10/8/23; Originally posted 6/26/22
Whether you like it or not, whether you are ready or not, every woman who lives long enough will experience lower hormone levels and the associated health, wellness, and longevity repercussions of menopause. With a wellness mindset and lifestyle, your elder years can be something to look forward to with excitement and a whole new wellness toolkit at your disposal! Perimenopause help is on the way!
I like to look around the world and back in time for inspiring stories of elder women showing strength, wisdom, and nurturing their community. I also fully acknowledge that we live much longer now than a typical woman from the past. If your goal is to live gracefully for 50 years in menopause, you are likely to be more motivated into a wellness lifestyle than someone happy to live barely 20 years in menopause. What is your goal?
Wellness Mindset for Menopause
When most people think of menopause and hormones, they think of estrogen. Estrogen is protective. Estrogen keeps a woman alive to have babies, babies, and more babies! When your estrogen induced baby-making ability wanes, where does that lead a post-menopausal woman?
On a continue-the-species level – you are not needed (whether you have done your part to perpetuate the species or not). On a societal level – your wisdom, experience, and energy are desperately needed! On a personal level – you have many beautiful years to enjoy life, share love, and make the world a better place!
This transitioning time of life from a childbearing woman to a valued community elder can be challenging but does not have to be! When should you start thinking about how to navigate menopause? Rather like financial planning for retirement, the earlier you start, the better off you will be in the short and long term. If you are already transitioning or have achieved a menopausal state then there is no time like the present to take care of you and feel better not older!
- What to Expect From Menopause
- The Science of Menopause
- 10 Action Steps for a Comfortable Slide Into Menopause
- Wellness Lifestyle for a Long, Healthy Menopause
- 6 Ways to Encourage Your Monthly Hormone Cycle to Continue
- Additional Reading
What to Expect From Menopause
An excellent way to understand how you will feel during menopause is to mentally review how you feel during the week before and the beginning few days of your menstrual period.
Why is the last week of your cycle a good measure of how menopause will feel? The last week of your menstrual cycle (moon week) is your low estrogen week. Estrogen starts to rise again after your menstruation days. This last week of your cycle also comes with low progesterone levels. Progesterone rises after ovulation. Menopause brings both low estrogen and low progesterone as the ovaries stop producing hormones.
If this 4th week of your moon cycle (menstrual cycle) is one of understanding your limits and working with them with grace, quiet internal reflection, and gentle self care then you are quite likely to dance through your menopause years with a smile on your face. If you dread that week, feel miserable, can’t wait for it to end, and your body rebels – oh my we have some wellness work to do! Keep reading for the science behind hormones and menopause or skip to the action steps!
The Science of Menopause
As your body begins the transition into menopause, the ovaries lower their production of your reproductive hormones and the adrenal glands and fat cells that have been making hormones for you become the biggest players in town. Unfortunately, your adrenal glands have other jobs already – like creating your stress hormone cortisol! It is no wonder that a highly stressed woman in perimenopause or menopause has trouble with her protective, reproductive hormone levels staying even and balanced.
Of course if you enter menopause in one fell swoop due to injury or surgery, these changes do not even come on gradually and usually come with even more stress – boo.
Oxytocin is the Magic Hormone for Menopause
When a woman has enough oxytocin in her body, mind, and life, the world is a lovely place and she is radiant and vibrant no matter her age. For a woman approaching or in the depths of menopause, oxytocin is much more important than any other hormone. It is oxytocin that makes her want to be the village elder, the loving grandma, the community healer, the loving partner, the kick-ass change maker, the forward thinking entrepreneur, and the strongest protestor against oppression in the world. We love you oxytocin – the Love Hormone.
Oxytocin counterbalances the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol sends blood to your extremities so you can fight or run and encourages you to focus on staying alive. Oxytocin helps you focus on why you want to stay alive! It is a quality of life hormone and we need more!
Oxytocin floods mom and baby to help with post-birth bonding. It is released with milk in a breastfeeding mother. Oxytocin and orgasm share a “O” for a very good reason – particularly in menopause! Oxytocin is a healing, nurturing hormone for the body, soul, and community. It helps you stay thin, healthy, and happy. So let’s get you more!
Role of Estrogen for Wellness of Body and Mind
Estrogen does more for a woman’s body than get her eggs ready to pop out of her ovaries. Estrogen is a protective hormone. Estrogen affects:
- How much energy we have
- What types of energy we use (sugar vs fat)
- The desire of your bones to grow
- How pliable your blood vessels are
- The moist quality of your vagina and joints
- How much serotonin (the feel good hormone) is created in your gut
- How well your memory works
- and much more!
So estrogen is important. Got it. But what do we do to raise our estrogen levels? Keep reading!
Protective Progesterone for Menopausal Women
Progesterone’s role for a woman of childbearing age is to support gestation. Progesterone levels rise in anticipation of maybe there will be a pregnancy to support this month. If no embryo implants in the uterus, your progesterone levels go down until next ovulation. If an embryo does implant the progesterone goes sky high for the duration of the pregnancy. So when you are no longer having babies, do you need progesterone? Yes!!!
Progesterone performs many services for a woman who plans to live a long rich life in menopause.
- Keeps brain fog at bay by protecting the myelin sheath around nerves
- Staves off depression and anxiety when it breaks down and stimulates your brain’s GABA receptors
- Supports great sleep
- Promotes fat usage as your body’s energy source
- Stimulates the growth of new brain cells
- Relaxes blood vessels to keep blood pressure low and reduce hot flashes
Progesterone protects the uterus along with the rest of the body. Because gynecologists are focused on women’s reproductive parts, many ignore progesterone’s importance for women who post hysterectomy because in their mind, no uterus means no uterine cancer – yay! My thoughts are – what about the rest of me?! I want progesterone’s protective abilities to keep my entire body and brain healthy – thank you!
Testosterone’s Fire for Women at All Ages
Testosterone is crucial for women at all ages, but particularly in the second half (or more!) or life. Testosterone helps women do so many things important to life:
- handle pain better
- maintain your muscle mass
- keep your sex drive up
- improve blood flow
- protects against unneeded weight gain
- boosts confidence
Don’t you want to raise yours now? Not too high of course, but a perfect level to give drive to your life.
10 Action Steps for a Comfortable Slide Into Menopause
A woman during her childbearing years can get away with heavy reliance on the support of her hormones to feel good and operate effectively with a smile on her face – especially if she regularly gets a boost from her stress hormones! Regretfully, the lifestyle habits we create when young do not always support a healthy menopause experience. Luckily, we can change our habits and shift our lifestyle to more helpful.
So what can and should you do to ease (and prevent!) your perimenopause symptoms and set yourself up for a healthy second half of life? I have 10 ideas to share with you below. The best time to begin most of these practices is today – no matter where you are in your journey into and through menopause.
- Improve Your Sleep ~ You make hormones while you are in the REM phase of sleep. If your sleep quality is poor, your hormone levels will be too! There are tons of tools to help you here including Cordeceps mushroom extracts, blue blocking “twilight” glasses to wear in the few hours before bedtime, and red/infrared light therapy to help regulate your natural circadian rhythm.
- Lower your Environmental Stress by Detoxing ~ If your body is dealing with an overload of environmental toxins (mercury fillings? mold exposure? pesticides in your food?) or has trouble getting rid of even the bits and pieces of chemical junk you make as you exist, your body is a stressful environment and your cellular and hormone health will suffer.
- Lower your Emotional Stress ~ Emotions are held in the body’s tissues. Stress hormones take away resources that could be used to help you feel terrific. Transitioning to menopause does not need to be harder because you start off stressed. Get help to bring calm to your body and mind on a daily basis!
- Eat for Healthy Hormone Production ~ Hormones are made from cholesterol in your body. You need to be eating healthy fats and cholesterol containing foods or you will run out of building blocks! Acknowledge that cholesterol reducing medications may very well also be affecting your ability to create a healthy hormone balance and let’s work on your cholesterol through a wellness lifestyle. Keep reading for more on how to actually do this!
- Improve your Metabolic Fitness ~ Hormones affect how you use glucose (sugar) and ketones (fats) to power your beautiful body. If your diet has you reliant on sugars, work to reduce your sugar intake and dependence so you have a need to use the energy provided in those fats! After that, you begin to use the “fat on the land” and change your body composition more easily.
- Change Your Body Composition ~ Bodies with more muscle and less belly fat are bodies that have healthy hormones, good energy levels, and lower inflammation and pain. Increase your movement to build some muscle! Today is a great day to get started changing yourself from the inside out!
- Support a Healthy Liver ~ Your liver is the key to getting rid of hormones after they are no longer useful. Just like anything else, hormones can overstay their welcome inside your body and start to cause trouble Your liver wants a low sugar, alcohol, and caffeine intake, plenty of antioxidants, support from your kidneys, healthy bile flow, a low toxin level, and to not be over-stressed. A good place to start might be using Pekana’s homeopathic Big 3 Detox Kit.
- Optimize your Thyroid Function ~ Estrogen and thyroid hormones have a complex interplay and you want to be ready with energy to make menopausal magic happen!
- Support Your Transition with Menopause-Specific Homeopathic Remedies ~ If you are already experiencing the uncomfortable symptoms associated with perimenopause, KLIFEM from Pekana can provide the perfect support to reduce your symptoms.
- Upgrade to an Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle – How? Lower your exposure to toxins, avoid pesticides for your home, work, and food, eat less foods that create inflammation, choose healing personal care products. If you would like help, consider joining me for my Guided Detox Cleanse Program to upgrade your home and body!
Where should you start? How should you proceed? I would love to help you in your endeavor to shift to a wellness focused lifestyle so you can glide your way into menopause with a smile!
Wellness Lifestyle for a Long, Healthy Menopause
If you aim for your menopausal years to outnumber your growing and childbearing years, I welcome you to join me in creating a wellness lifestyle that supports your optimal menopause. There are so many wonderful wellness actions you can choose from so let me offer you ideas in bite sized pieces.
Operate on Oxytocin
- Give or receive a hug – Make it a good one and the longer the better!
- Enjoy skin to skin contact – It does not matter whether you appreciate a paid massage, a partner’s touch, cuddling your pet, holding hands with a child or friend, or stroking your own skin.
- Make love not war – Oxytocin is made in your brain when you enjoy an intimate experience. Include nipple play to get optimal hormone levels – just ask any nursing baby!
- Add maca to your diet – This herbal adaptogen supports your adrenal glands so they can calm down the stress hormones and allow your oxytocin level to raise.
Be Younger Through Quantum Physics
Believe it or not, there are tools to help you do this that use physics! Whether you understand it or not, quantum physics affects your body’s inner workings. As we approach and stay in menopause, we can add quantum energy to our bodies to support aspects most important to a menopausal woman.
Leela Quantum Tech’s Women’s Booster Card offers a wide variety of frequencies chosen for their abilities to support an aging female body. For aging in general, consider the Forever Young card. You can jump right in and purchase one or you can try before you buy!
Eat For Better Hormone Production
Our body’s ability to produce hormones depends on the availability of ingredients. Your diet can play an important role in your ability to effectively create hormones during your menopause years. One of your most important tools in your menopause toolkit is the ability to choose foods, herbs, and supplements to help you feel your best. What are these tools?
- Ensure sufficient cholesterol intake – Cholesterol containing foods like eggs, grass-fed butter, shellfish and grass-fed beef – not all cholesterol is bad and it is a building block for hormones.
- Supplement Your Omegas – Omega-3 Fatty Acids should be part of your daily food choices or supplement because it supports healthy blood vessels, connective tissue, integrity to the blood-brain barrier and gut lining, and so much more. I offer 3 choices that work exceptionally well for my family and clients: Super Omega-3 Plus, Citrus Omega-3 Squeeze, and Spirulina.
- Raise your Zinc – Zinc containing foods like grass-fed meat, oysters, avocado, eggs because it is both a co-factor for hormone production and a factor in the brain’s decision to request hormones to be made. A low zinc level means your body has to choose where to use the zinc because there is not enough to go around.
- Check your Vitamin D level – Studies show that low estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels are associated with low Vitamin D levels. Get your sunshine, supplement to get to the optimal level for personal wellness, and keep it up!
- Get all your B Vitamins – They are crucial to your body’s ability to recycle and use hormones. I get mine by taking BioActive Complete B Complex.
- Add in adaptogenics – Herbs provide tremendous support for healthy hormone creation and balance. Experiment with ashwagandha, maca, and ginseng, damiana, and gingko to see how you feel with each of them (and keep exploring!).
If this sounds overwhelming, I would love to help you. We can create a customized supplement plan to compliment your diet and support your wellness. We can work together to improve your diet. Let’s talk!
Optimize Your Estrogen
Menopause is a time when a woman’s estrogen is created primarily in her adrenal glands and fat cells. The problem is that fat cells like to make the form of estrogen called Estrone or E1. This is the form that promotes cell growth (and we do not need to grow in menopause) and breaks down into any of 3 metabolites – only one of which is protective in nature. You might want to read about the 3 forms of estrogen and why you should care in my post about hormones.
A woman’s liver needs to break down unused hormones so they do not cause problems throughout the body. There are several pathways possible for this hormone metabolism process (literally – eating your own hormones to break them into bits for recycling). Depending on your diet, genetics, liver health, and overall lifestyle, we can shift your liver’s hormone metabolism into the healthiest for you pathways.
- Sulfur ~ You can eat eggs, garlic, onions, avocado, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage, kohlrabi, arugula, broccoli, etc) and take epsom salts footbaths to get your sulfur. Be sure you get your food from local, sustainable sources that do not spray pesticides or other chemicals onto your food! (or pickup your weekly order from Next Step Produce from my studio lobby in La Plata, MD)
- Lignans ~ Lignan rich foods like flax seed and sesame seed offer phytoestrogens. Freshly ground flax seed can go on top of your buttered toast, on your salad, or in a smoothie (grind it first!). I also get mine as part of my Super Omega-3 Plus supplement.
- Soy [Japanese-style] ~ Soy offers phytoestrogens and is a staple food for Japanese women. Having spent time in Japan, meal there consists of many vegetables, rice, with a small amount of organic, fermented soy (like tofu). No soy milk, no soy “chicken nuggets”, no soy cheese.
- Methyl groups ~ These molecules activate and de-activate enzymes that control numerous things in your body including hormone and detox related actions. Depending on your genetics, you might need to be more particular about your source of methyl groups. Common food sources are: shiitake mushrooms (I like the LifeCykel shiitake liquid extractions for ease), dark leafy greens (I get mine from Next Step Produce), mold-free coffee (like Danger Coffee or Purity Coffee), beets (I drink mine – you can too when you join our monthly group Farmers Juice order), and liver (absolutely must be from a healthy, toxin free source).
- B vitamins ~ B vitamins are used all over the body for more reasons than I can count! When your B vitamin intake is low or not optimized for your personal biology, your ability to make and break down hormones is compromised. B vitamins work synergistically so its best to
- Insoluble fiber ~ Fiber facilitates the excretion of hormone metabolites among other things. The fiber from fruits/veges is soluble. Insoluble fiber is what carries estrogen and other hormone bits and pieces out of the digestive tract during a good cleansing bowel movement. Eat your insoluble fiber from foods such as prunes, passionfruit, sweet potato, avocado, peas and more!
- Herbs ~ like turmeric and rosemary along with all the herbs from traditional medicinal cultures that I have yet to learn!
Up Your Progesterone By Lowering Your Stress
In our goal to have high enough progesterone levels to feel amazing during menopause, we need to look at both how to encourage its production and where our progesterone gets used. The biggest stealer of progesterone is to our stress hormones because they are made from progesterone. When we reduce our stress hormones, we have more progesterone available to our bodies – yay!
Boost Testosterone Naturally During Menopause
You can keep your body wanting to produce testosterone through your wellness lifestyle. The following actions will support your internal testosterone production:
- Get moving and lifting ~ The more challenging the exercise the better (without creating pain or over-stressing the body) for your testosterone levels. Pilates Equipment classes offer resistance training for your muscles with a focus on safe movements from the core out. A huge amount of a menopausal woman’s testosterone is created is her muscles. I say get strong and sexy!
- Say yes to sex – at least weekly! ~ Testosterone supports your sex drive but sex supports the generation of testosterone – and remember that no partner is needed although partners are appreciated 🙂
- Get all the way to orgasm ~ If you have trouble getting to that climax, then keep enjoying the process! Work on stress reduction. Try again after a workout when your testosterone levels should be higher. If you want to continue down this path further, some women put a tiny bit of their testosterone cream on their clitoris and the surrounding external area – its called Scream Cream for a reason!
6 Ways to Encourage Your Monthly Hormone Cycle to Continue
Yes, you read that right. Women’s hormones during childbearing years change so that you ideally get all the benefits they offer but never too much of a good thing. Estrogen is great but too much is bad. Progesterone is wonderful but too much is also bad. When we choose to continue supporting our monthly hormonal fluctuations, we can continue to receive all the benefits with a minimum of downsides. How do we do that naturally?
- Behave socially as if you are still full of the hormones of a young woman – go out with your girlfriends or spend more intimate time with your partner the week of “ovulation” and cocoon yourself for self care the week of “menstruation”
- Exercise to support your cyclical hormones – Provide beneficial stresses and physical challenges for 2 weeks then take 2 weeks of lower intensity workouts
- Eat to support your cycle – Up your fasting window during the same 2 week period as your more challenging exercise and relax it back to 12 hours overnight for the next 2 weeks.
- Consider Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy – Talk to your doctor about this one because each of us is different. Women who choose this therapy should use topical cream or gel forms of bio-identical estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone (off-label for women in the US) to be applied to your inner thigh, the mucus membranes of your labia, or sometimes even your clitoris with instructions of how to change which hormones are used during each week of a 4 week cycle. Read about the Wiley Protocol for women (and men!). Avoid taking oral estrogens because they appear to preferentially convert to the inflammatory forms that encourage cancer and dementia.
- Have more sex so your body thinks you might procreate – Get those hormones flowing this is a use it or lose it situation! I am not advocating you have a mid life babies so be smart and creative!
- Designate one week a month as your “extra self care” week – This week models your menstruation week. Need ideas? Schedule an extra yoga class, get yourself into an infrared sauna, give yourself an Epsom Salts (foot)bath, give yourself a pedicure (save $$ and skip the harmful chemicals of a salon), or make yourself super healthy foods you consider treats. I am sure your creative juices are flowing now!
There’s a side benefit: When you act young, you feel young. Feel better not older. I’d love to help you virtually or in person at my studio in Charles County, Maryland.
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