Once women reach their 40s, these hormone levels start to drop, and that causes a decline in fertility. This change in hormones is more noticeable to some women than others. But all women notice a change in their periods as they become longer/shorter or lighter/heavier. 

The real challenge with hormone decline is when they become imbalanced compared with each other. So what are the common symptoms of hormonal imbalance?

  • Weight gain
  • Tender breasts
  • Fatigue
  • Hot flashes and night sweats
  • Muscle weakness, aches, tenderness, and stiffness
  • Joint pain
  • Change in heart rate
  • Sleep disruption
  • Anxiety and mood swings
  • Brain fog
  • Low libido and vaginal dryness

Some women move through the hormone changes of perimenopause and menopause without much problem. But most women find that symptoms interfere with their quality of life. So what can be done? Although this change in hormone production is a normal process, there are some foods than can increase the levels of imbalance. They include:

  • Red meat, especially grain fed
  • Sugar (all 60+ varieties)
  • Dairy products
  • Caffeine
  • Processed foods

These foods interfere with hormone receptors, cause inflammation (in the body and brain) and affect the metabolism. So by removing them from your diet, many of the symptoms can be reduced or eliminated. 

Lifestyle Approach

Making different food choices, combined with other lifestyle choices can make a significant difference in a woman’s quality of life. Other lifestyle approaches include making it a priority to get restorative sleep. Building hormone appropriate movement into the day is another lifestyle approach. Mindful meditation and other mindset techniques are very helpful to reduce stress and promote quality sleep. Taking a holistic approach to health and wellness is key to providing natural support for changing hormones. 

Hormone Replacement Therapy

The medical approach of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has come a long way in the past 20 years. Synthetic hormones delivered orally came with some unsettling health concerns attached to them. They elevated risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular illness, so prescription times were limited to only a couple of years. 

But body identical HRT has changed all that. The delivery method is via patch or gel and this means the hormones are absorbed through the skin and into the blood system. Drawing on this different form of metabolization makes a big difference to the health risks. In fact, body identical HRT is now recommended as long-term protection against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Body identical treatment is also highly customizable to deliver the right levels and combination of estrogen and progesterone. This makes them much more adaptable to individual symptoms, reactions and tolerances.

While many women embrace the lifestyle approach to hormone balancing, perimenopause and menopause, there is no reason not to combine it with the medical approach of HRT. Whatever the choice, it’s great to contribute to much-needed conversation about hormones, perimenopause and menopause and the options that exist to navigate the symptoms, restore vitality and achieve a brilliant quality of life.

We’ve all heard the phrase “Oh, it’s just my hormones acting up”. But what does that really mean? From the time of puberty, women produce reproductive hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These hormones fluctuate during the monthly cycle. Some women feel these fluctuations more acutely with PMS. But this fluctuation changes as women reach mid-life.

Dr. Louise Hewson, Menopause: All You Need To Know In One Concise Manual, 2019

Dr. Mark Hyman, The Longevity Roadmap, The Functional Medicine Approach to Balancing Hormones, 2021.

Changes in Hormone Levels, The North American Menopause Society, Adapted, with permission, from Shifren JL, Hanfling S. Sexuality in Midlife and Beyond: Special Health Report. Harvard Health Publications, Boston, MA. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/changes-at-midlife/changes-in-hormone-levels