One of my long term clients came in this week reporting profuse sweating. Two doctors had already told her it was peri-menopause. In fact one had told her she was “late”, at age 53.
She’d already started loading up on supplements and herbs to boost her sex hormones.
But… I wasn’t so sure, and after talking further, (it’s nice to have a full hour to work with people) I came to a different conclusion.
This client – let’s call her Elana – is probably a lot like you. Even when she doesn’t feel her best, she pushes herself to take care of her family, her home and her many other responsibilities, and she’s proud to do it. She’s got a big heart, a great mind, and a lot of passion. Somewhere in her mind, she considers it a weakness, perhaps even a failing, to need to stop and take time for herself when that “infinite to-do list” is still looming – and it always is. She gets tired, but that just means she just pushes harder.
Elana was having symptoms of menopause, but I wasn’t convinced that it actually was menopause.
Here’s why: her adrenals were working overtime, from chronic stress, and when that happens, sex hormones plummet.
They have to. It’s biology. If your brain thinks you’re in danger, it will reduce sex hormones in favor of the ones that help you survive a short term crisis. What hormones are those? Adrenaline and cortisol. That’s supposed to be a short term solution to preserve you, and our species.
But sometimes those crises go on and on. And on… That’s kind of our modern lives, right? We’re all chronically tired, chronically multi-tasking, never keeping up with all we need to do.
That chronic state will wreck your hormones. Not only estrogen and progesterone, which are always in inverse relationship to cortisol, but other hormones like insulin, which governs blood sugar, is closely tied to cortisol levels. It’s almost impossible to have healthy blood sugar if your cortisol is high.
And while taking hormone boosting supplements, or even hormones themselves (synthetic or bio-identical), will help short term, the body will eventually re-set to the same place it was previously – unless the underlying issues are addressed.
So to re-balance Elana’s hormones, and eliminate those menopausal “symptoms”, we need to engage the parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, we need to calm and heal the adrenals, rather than directly increasing sex hormones. If we convince her brain that she isn’t in danger, her body will go back to making healthy levels of sex hormones again. Even at age 53.
Heck, I’m a decade older than that, don’t even have ovaries any more, and I still have healthy hormones.
And I’ve helped women of every age – older and younger than I am – to do the same.
So don’t be so fast to head over the hill. It’s not that menopause is bad. It’s just another phase of this wonderful life we’re given, and if we’re lucky, we all get there. Just remember: You are designed to be healthy, vital and juicy at any age, wherever you’re starting from, and whatever you’re going through now.
One more note: low sex hormones aren’t the only cause of intense sweats. Babesia, one of the co-infections of Lyme Disease, is another common cause. I’ve worked with many women who thought they were having hot flashes or night sweats from menopause, and in fact had Lyme Disease. It’s a very important difference.
Feel like your adrenals need some support? Here are 3 simple tips:
1. A few times a day, and any time you catch yourself feeling tense, take 4 slow deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling evenly through your nose. This tells your brain there’s no saber tooth tiger behind you.
2. Add Vitamin C. This does not mean eating lots of citrus. You’d have to have way too much sugar from the fruit and still not get to therapeutic levels, so instead use a good supplement. I generally prefer mineral ascorbates to ascorbic acid, or even better, a liposomal Vitamin C. Email me if you’d like to try either.
3. At the end of the day, acknowledge that you did the best you could, and let yourself off the hook for anything still lingering. Think of 3 things for which you’re grateful today, and then consciously close down your list for the night. This simple practice can change the quality of your life.