There are 13 million menopausal and perimenopausal women in the UK. Yet, the conversation about the myriad of symptoms and their effect on so many aspects of our health and our lives is only just beginning. And, of course, hormonal changes can affect us at various stages of our life, not just during menopause – think pregnancy and puberty. Many things may signal that your hormones are off-balance, even during your 20s and 30s.
When our hormones are dysfunctional, they can cause any number of issues. Think of the endocrine system as a finely tuned orchestra: when hormones are functioning as they should, the body works in harmony. But when just one of the hundreds of the hormones in the body plays out of tune, it triggers a knock-on effect, a single bum note that impacts every other system leading to symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, bloating, insomnia, anxiety, acne and hair loss.
What causes hormonal imbalances?
Hormonal fluctuations occur naturally in puberty, menopause and perimenopause. Toxins and an unbalanced lifestyle can also cause them – our hormones are deeply connected to the food we eat, the weight we carry, and the stress we put up with. Younger women can suffer with polycystic ovary syndrome, where male hormones, or androgens, become dominant leading to irregular periods, weight gain, oily skin, and even infertility. Supplementing their bodies with hormones to counterbalance those androgens helps nudge the body back towards balance.
How to keep your hormones in the best shape possible
Diet and nutrition
Diet is a crucial component of maintaining healthy hormones, and for some women, managing their diet allows them to have a more effortless menopausal experience without the need for hormonal intervention. Eating foods rich in phytoestrogens, such as soy, oats, barley, beans, lentils, and yams, can help boost a woman’s natural oestrogen levels enough to reduce symptoms such as hot flushes. Healthy cholesterols and fats like oily fish, avocados and eggs are very helpful for producing testosterone and making new cell membranes.
High blood sugar triggers a release of insulin, which stresses your entire endocrine system – a collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, sleep, and mood – and can inhibit the production of oestrogen. Swapping processed sugars for healthier alternatives will really help.
If you would like to balance your hormones through diet and supplementation, I recommend speaking to a good nutritionist to establish what’s right for you. I take Calcium D-Glucarate which helps detoxify excess oestrogen or ‘dirty oestrogens’ – the harmful metabolites of oestrogen responsible for conditions such as fibrocystic breasts and thyroid nodules, endometriosis, fibroids, infertility, mood swings, and PMS. Other helpful supplements like Diindolylmethane (DIM) help change the pathway your oestrogen goes down, which can reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause symptoms.
Biotics Research Meda-Stim & GTA Forte II are very helpful for supporting thyroid health. The thyroid gland is a vital hormone gland: It plays a significant role in the body’s metabolism, growth, and development. It helps regulate many bodily functions by constantly releasing a steady amount of thyroid hormones into the bloodstream. So, supporting it is crucial, especially as we age and approach perimenopause.
Finally, Vitamin D3 is a supplement that I recommend to anyone with any hormone-related issues. It has an independent hormonal activity that can help alleviate hormone imbalance symptoms and restore balance to your system.
Reducing stress is one of the most crucial ways to keep hormones in balance. The stress hormone cortisol has been linked to brain fog and even memory issues. The best ways to lower high cortisol levels are exercising regularly, meditating, or even just going for a walk and spending some time in nature.
Consider a hormone test
Hormone testing will help establish any issues, allowing you to determine whether you’re producing the right hormones at the correct times, as well as highlighting any problems that need to be addressed. In younger women, tracking the balance of your hormones through medical tests can have a great long-term impact on fertility. But, in more mature women who may be approaching or going through menopause, it allows us to bring those hormones back into balance to minimise symptoms and help them feel like themselves once again.
Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Hormone replacement therapy works to counteract changes caused by hormone fluctuations by replenishing the supply of critical hormones. BHRT isn’t just HRT by another name. It is slightly different to the more common HRT treatments and is only available privately rather than through the NHS. BHRT is a customised hormone regime that is tailor-made for each patient to optimise overall wellbeing, restore imbalances and improve their quality of life. BHRT is fully customised, meaning it has been compounded especially for you. For example, I can put three hormones in one special tablet rather than making you take three. And if one hormone is only available as a 100mg traditional HRT dose, I can prescribe a more precise, appropriate dose which may lead to better symptom relief without excess side effects.
Bioidentical hormones, or BHRT, are especially effective because their molecular structure is identical to the hormones created by the body. They fit the body’s hormone receptor sites perfectly, ensuring that messages are correctly translated and the effects are consistent with the body’s biochemistry.
A 360 approach to looking and feeling good
What drove me to initially train in Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT) was that so many of my patients are perimenopausal. They’re seeking me out for aesthetic treatments because they hope that by looking more like their old selves, they will feel like themselves again, too. They are often very upset about their appearance, and by life in general, but by injecting them, I felt I was only treating half the person and half their issues.
In menopause, oestrogen production, which declines steadily from your 30s, more or less stops altogether. There’s only so much skin rejuvenation we can achieve if someone doesn’t have much oestrogen in their skin. So, when I combine hormones and aesthetics, my patients feel fitter, healthier, and better overall, and their skin looks firmer and more radiant. All these elements reflect their overall appearance, amplifying the results of their aesthetic treatments.