Yesterday, a patient gave me the perfect description of the two weeks before the beginning of menstruation... She called it a “two week descent into hormone hell”.
Why does this ring so true? Let’s look at it from the scientific and physiologic standpoint first.
Estrogen and progesterone have to disappear from the blood stream to cause the menstrual flow to start. Once we have ovulated, if we do not get pregnant, we must menstruate. It is the normal physiology of the menstrual cycle.
Estrogen and progesterone stay low in the system for as long as we are menstruating.
Once the period has ended, the estrogen levels start to climb in preparation for the next ovulation which always occurs two weeks before the next period.
As estrogen levels rise, so does our sense of well being. It is very unusual for young women to complain of symptoms of hormone imbalance during the second week of the cycle (the first week after the period has ended). Estrogen levels continue to climb as we reach mid cycle when, as a result of the rise of estrogen, ovulation occurs.
For the next 48 hours estrogen and progesterone are in perfect sync. They have prepared the woman to receive the sperm to fertilize the egg released from the ovary at ovulation. All systems are go and we feel great. Not to mention sexy and in great spirits. And we notice every guy that walks by.
After 48 hours have passed, if we have not gotten pregnant, the egg starts to disintegrate, the estrogen and progesterone levels start to drop and so does everything else in our lives.
With the drop in estrogen and progesterone, the “descent into hormone hell” begins. First the mood changes. Remember how you felt sexy and on top of the world only three days ago? A dark cloud settles over your head even if nothing has changed in your life. Your attention span shortens, your tolerance and patience disappear, bloating makes you feel horrible and interest in sex becomes a rapidly fading memory. Some women get severe migraines as the period approaches, some develop insomnia and other sleep problems. Night sweats and even hot flashes affect even 35 years olds. Food cravings rear their ugly heads; ice-cream and Fries become irresistible. Alcohol consumption and smoking are also on the rise. Life is rapidly spinning out of control.
This is how important the impact of hormones is. One day you are on top of the world with estrogen and progesterone in balance, the next, ovulation has occurred and the hormones are dropping and the “hell” only ends when you get your period, or start taking natural hormones correctly.
Which brings me to what can be done to prevent this horrifying experience that only gets worse as we grow older?
The answer is a clear and steady plan:
1. Become aware of the symptoms you experience and connect them to your hormone levels
2. Notice when you are suffering the worst symptoms
3. Change your diet to hormone friendly foods ( See The 30 Day Natural Hormone Plan)
4. Increase your water intake, lower your alcohol, soda and coffee intake
5. Take your Supplements
6. Get as much sleep as possible
7. Decrease your stress level through conscious means ( yoga, meditation, rest, self- evaluation)
8. Start the proper regimen of natural hormones as soon as you ovulate if you are in your 30s and early 40s, or continue and increase the natural hormone preparation you are already taking if you are in your mid to late 40s and 50s.
You don’t have to suffer! You can and should feel well.
Life is too short to miss out on so go ahead and break out of that hormone hell!