If the average American woman enters menopause around age 52, and if perimenopause can begin as early as age 35 when hormonal changes are first noticeable, then we have a 10 to 17 year period when a woman is considerably vulnerable to the effects of hormone changes. These changes are often overlooked until symptoms demand attention.
For women at midlife, the interplay between two primary female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, often becomes important. As a woman approaches menopause, and as long as 10 to 15 years before menopause onset, hormone levels begin to shift. Understanding this shift and managing it with natural substances can mean the difference between health and illness. Some women display early menopause even with regular periods. In these women, night sweats can interfere with sleep and cause fatigue.
If a woman has estrogen levels that are too high and progesterone levels that are too low, she may be prone to anxiety, panic, and hyperactivity. If her estrogen is too low, she may be subject to depression. Estrogen-dominance (too much estrogen in relation to progesterone) and estrogen-deficiency (too little) can both be a problem easily resolved with hormone replacement. Indicators include irregular menstrual bleeding, severe mood swings, and episodes of anxiety or depression. Hormone testing, replacement or treatment for elevated levels as necessary during this time can make life much more enjoyable.
Treatment with natural hormones have at times resulted in dramatic improvements.
Several good books are available on this subject that will help anyone identify and understand female hormonal problems. In hardback there is Natural Hormone Balance for Women by Uzzi Reiss, M.D. and in paperback, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause by John R. Lee, M.D., Hanley and Hopkins.
A randomized double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial (the "gold standard" study design) has shown that the isoflavones in soy appear to protect menopausal women from bone loss just as powerfully as hormone replacement therapy, but without the side-effects [Nutrition Reviews 61 (2003): pp.346]. In other words, drinking the equivalent of about 2 cups of soymilk each day, women can go through menopause with strong bones, and without the cancer, heart disease, a stroke or two and blood clots in the lung. And, using soymilk instead of Premarin (now known to increase risk of these conditions), your smoothies won't taste like urine!
PABA helps potentiate hormones, especially in women moving toward menopause.
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