Three years ago this month I wrote my second blog “Proud to be a hormonal woman”. It was a brave blog post for a newbie, as I went on a bit of a rant about how we as women, try to NOT define ourselves as hormonal beings, but it really is a losing battle.
I didn't realise at the time how much hormones would become a big focus of my work. How I would become a passionate advocate of women understanding their hormonal cycles, the importance of having hormonal balance to help us navigate our life, and critically how hormonal imbalance can profoundly affect our health and wellbeing.
As I work to support women on their menopause journey, the hormone conversation has become a major focus.
And there are three things that surprise me time and time again:
The lack of basic knowledge and understanding that women have about their natural hormonal changes.
The profound impact that hormones have on our daily lives and how we show up.
The power we have to create hormonal balance for ourselves with small changes to our lifestyle.
As part of my mission as a Menopause Coach and Women’s Health advocate I want to change the way women understand and connect with being a hormonal woman.
So here are my top 6 things every woman needs to know about her hormones!
1. For good and for bad, we are a function of our hormones and being a hormonal woman should neither be seen as a joke or a dirty word. There is no point trying to deny them, hide them or ignore them.
As women, our hormones allow us to do amazing things - to create, to be intuitive, to be sensitive, to listen, to be able to multi-task. We should not be ashamed of any of these and we should embrace our hormones that enable us to achieve amazing things.
2. “The only thing constant in our life is change”.
This saying defines our natural hormonal fluctuations. Regardless of age or stage of life, our hormones are always fluctuating and always communicating with us.
During menopause this fluctuation is particularly prevalent because it is so unpredictable. However even for women with a predictable monthly cycle, our hormones are always changing. This means that every day, how you feel and how you show up will be a function of where your hormones are. Respect and honour these natural changes and accept them as part of what it means to be a woman.
3. There are about 50 different hormones in our body (making up the endocrine system). They all work together in a delicate balance, many of them connected to each other in a feedback relationship. Each hormone serves a specific function in our body such as insulin which balances blood sugar or eostrogen, one of the primary feminine reproductive hormones.
But things start to become complicated when the delicate balance is disrupted or when hormonal imbalance arrives for external reasons like stress, nutrition or lifestyle choices. Other hormonal disruptors, like PCOS (Poly-cystic ovary syndrome), menopause or hormonal birth control can also impact our hormonal balance, creating ripple effects in our body that we are not expecting or prepared for. And these hormonal imbalances can have profound impacts on our physical, emotional and mental health.
4. It is not just the biological and physical health implications of hormonal imbalance that women need to be thinking about, such as inflammation, thyroid issues or other ill health. There is a much deeper issue for us to address. And that is the emotional characteristics of our hormones.
Our hormones make us feel certain things, show up in specific ways and impact how we respond to situations. Sometimes it feels like our hormones are betraying us. Sometimes we wake up, and no amount of positive thinking gets us out of our bad mood. Sometimes everyone just annoys us and no amount of feeling grateful can change it. When our hormones are out of balance we do not have the resources or ability to act the way we want to, to show up the way we need to. And that can often be confusing and frustrating, sometimes forcing us to find answers and solutions in unhealthy places.
5. It is not all bad news though! We have discovered that improving hormonal imbalance and getting our bodies to function within this delicate hormonal system, is relatively achievable. There is even a whole field of holistic and functional medicine dedicated to strategies and solutions to do this.
In my work with women, I focus on 5 areas of health and wellbeing that need to be addressed to help create hormonal balance – stress, nutrition, sleep, movement and work-life balance. By looking at what is going on in these five areas we start to find clues for the source of hormonal imbalance and identify personalized strategies and small realistic changes that you can make for bringing your hormones back into balance!
6. There is another management strategy that for me, is the secret bullet to creating and supporting hormonal balance. And that is Yoga Nashit (Yoga for Women’s Health). Yoga Nashit puts the woman and her health story at the center of the practice and uses Yoga tools and techniques to create the hormonal balance that is so critical for us to function at our best.
For example, one of the fundamentals of yoga is creating calm, quieting the mind, deep breathing, and activating our parasympathetic nervous system. These simple techniques change the hormonal balance in our body, by reducing our stress hormones and increasing our "rest and digest" hormones, thereby directly improving the hormone relationships in our body. There are also poses that help to stimulate, support and balance important organs of our endocrine system such as adrenal glands, thyroid, hypothalamus, and lymphatic system to name just a few, all with hormonal balancing implications.
For women, creating hormonal balance of our feminine hormones is especially important. Throughout our life-cycle as our hormones are naturally changing, we want to ensure that our hormones are functioning in the best way possible to support us.
Whether it be the natural hormonal changes during your menstrual cycle, your hormone levels as you try to conceive, or the rollercoaster ride our hormones take during menopause year, creating hormonal balance is essential to making sure women navigate these life stages successfully.
Otherwise we encounter these life stages hormonal depleted, with reduced resources and unable to navigate these times with ease, joy and confidence.