It may seem unusual to use the term menopause when speaking of women in their mid-thirties and forties, but premenopause syndrome affects just this group: young women who are unlikely to even imagine that their uncomfortable symptoms are the result of unbalanced hormones.
Are you in your mid-thirties to late-forties? Do you suffer from any of the symptoms described below? If so, you may be suffering from premenopause syndrome, a term coined by Dr. John Lee to describe a condition now affecting many western women. During premenopause, hormone levels often fluctuate dramatically, leading to a wide variety of symptoms including:
- Memory Loss
- Foggy thinking
- Lowered libido
- Low metabolism
- Cold hands and feet
- Migraine headaches
- Heavy or light periods
- Bleeding between periods
- Inability to handle stressful situations
- Sweet, caffeine, and carbohydrate cravings
- Sudden weight gain, particularly in the breasts, waist, and mid-section
Premenopause syndrome is not an inevitable part of life, but it does affect as many as 50 million women according to Lee. The condition is characterized by estrogen dominance, which means having high levels of estrogen in relation to progesterone. Estrogen dominance is caused by a number of factors, including our diets, our environment, and our lifestyles.
For example, eating chemicals and sugars in processed foods creates xenoestrogens (foreign estrogens) in our bodies (xenoestrogens are also created by pesticides, among other substances). These foreign estrogens lead to excess fat in the body, which in turn creates more estrogen. In addition, our diets may contain the milk and meat of cattle that have been fed hormones. Living with high levels of stress is another cause of premenopause syndrome. These high levels of stress tax our adrenal glands, which over time can lead to depletion of progesterone in the body as the taxed adrenals “steal” progesterone to make cortisol.
Unfortunately, the allopathic method of treating premenopause symptoms in the past has often been to prescribe synthetic estrogen, which has led women to develop even more estrogen dominance symptoms. These poor women were then often encouraged to have hysterectomies or to take antidepressants, neither of which addressed the underlying problem of hormonal imbalance.
Being healthy and free of premenopause symptoms requires balancing hormones, including raising progesterone levels and if necessary, lowering levels of estrogen, particularly estadiol. However, simply visiting Whole Foods or another natural health store and buying natural progesterone cream will likely not be an effective solution. The endocrine system is complex and its parts work closely together, so treating one area of it can have an effect on another.
A Holistic Approach to Premenopausal Syndrome
For this reason, a holistic approach to treating premenopausal syndrome is necessary. If you think you have estrogen dominance, a salivary hormone test that measures estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, and testosterone is a great place to start. You can use these results to customize a hormone program that will work to balance your unique endocrine system. Moderate amounts of exercise and a diet plan that includes plenty of organic vegetables and fruits, moderate amounts of hormone-free meat, and whole grains will also help. You may need additional herbs to support your body as it heals. And of course, finding ways to lower stress in your life, such as taking time with loved ones, being alone, taking long baths, doing yoga, and practicing meditation, can never hurt!
Some doctors that are fairly new to treating premenopause holistically may often overlook Adrenal Fatigue, a syndrome treated for over 50 years by the chiropractic community. The symptoms are often nearly identical, and an experience practitioner can determine the difference through careful testing. Often, women may have both syndromes occurring simultaneously and must be treated for both for effective healing.
Remember, the uncomfortable effects of premenopause syndrome do not have to be an inevitable part of your life. With the right approach, you can heal premenopause syndrome and live a healthy, happy, low-stress life.
Source: Lee, John R. M.D., Jesse Hanley, M.D., and Virginia Hopkins. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause. Warner Books, 1999.
* The information in this article cannot be substituted for medical advice about your unique body. Call for an appointment to discuss questions or concerns.