Hormones gone WILD
Have you ever noticed that female hormonal imbalance seems to be running ramped in our society? Men are NOT allowed to answer this question! Hormonal imbalance is one of the top 3 complaints I hear from women on a regular basis. The common hormonal issues we see in our current culture today were not present in our ancestors centuries ago. Partly, we can account for some of this by the fact that the lifespan of the average woman has dramatically increased over the last 200 years – from age 40 years to our current predicted lifespan of nearly 80 years….but I believe there is much more to this story.
The average age of menarche (onset of menses) is 12 years. I am seeing young women who started their menses as early as age 8 or 9 years. Why are these young girls going through puberty at much earlier age? I believe that this earlier onset of puberty can be attributed to changes in our diet and environmental factors. Our American diet is high in simple carbs and fast foods and low in healthy carbs and fresh fruits and vegetables. Obesity in children is hitting epidemic proportion. Along with this, our environment is becoming more toxic. Xenoestrogens, which we will discuss in great detail later this month, are external estrogens that are found in hair products, insecticides and plastics. Our livestock is being treated with different hormones that show up in our dairy and meat products. While the FDA claims that this is safe, no one has really tested the impact of long term exposure from a mulitple combinations of environmental toxins. The sum of all of these factor result in hormonal imbalance.
On top of this, an increasing number of women are experiencing fertility problems. Women in childbearing age are at highest risk for autoimmune disease, which again, can be worsened by dietary and environmental issues. While hormonal imbalance can be caused by a variety of factors, almost all of them lead to an imbalance between estrogen and progesterone, and occasionally testosterone. We see this in more commonly observed conditions such as premenstrual syndrome, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. PCOS is a frequently underdiagnosed condition seen in women of child bearing age. The underlying cause of PCOS is insulin resistance, which if untreated can lead to abnormal weight gain, infertility, unwanted hair growth and early onset type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of PCOS clearly improve with weight loss and lifestyle modification. While many women have a genetic predisposition to this disorder, it is my observation that dietary and lifestyle factors are 2 of the major contributors to the rising rate of this condition.
Then comes the dreaded menopause. Current statistics show that up to 75% of women experience various degrees of symptomatic menopause. More than 1.5 million women are entering menopause yearly. Natural menopause is defined as complete cessation of the menstrual cycle for one full year. In the case of surgical menopause, removing both ovaries will cause an abrupt onset of menopause. The average age at menopause is 51.7 years, however this ranges from age 42 – 58 years. Peri-menopause, the hormonal fluctuation leading up to menopause, can last for up to 5 – 15 years. With the average life expectantly for women now approaching 80 years, many of us will spend up to 30% of our lives in a postmenopausal or hypoestrogenic state. Wow – this could potentially get really ugly! To further compound the problem, the Women’s Health Study published data on hormonal replacement therapy stating an increased risk of heart disease , stroke and adverse affects, leaving women with seemingly limited options.
Follow my blog this month where I will attempt to tackle many of the issues related to women’s hormonal imbalance and discuss various options to help you rebalance your hormones. I want this to be interactional so please post your comments & suggestions below. Sign up for my blog to get these HOT TOPICS sent directly to you HOT off the press and please share this valuable information with every woman you know.
Photo courtesy of cat-o photostream