Understanding Hormone Changes in Women and their Impact on Health and Fitness Part 1.
By popular demand, we’re going to attempt the tackle the complex and, unfortunately, confusing issue of hormone changes in women and how it affects your metabolism, health, and fitness.  This is a complex issue, and willprobably be unrolled in multiple parts.  
To start, this week we’ll start with defining some terms and concepts to give the rest of this conversation context.  
important site can you buy clomid online uk Stress: any event or situation that requires the body to create extra sugar for energy.  Stress can be our traditional view: difficult situations, busyness, adverse relationships.  That’s just a small part of the large list of things the brain interprets as stress.  Also included can be:  poor food choices, lack of sleep, environmental/air quality, lack of proper light, fasting or limited calorie intake, exercise, illness, and many others.
Menopause:  from wikipedia, “literally means the “end of monthly cycles” (the end of monthly periods aka menstruation), from the Greek word pausis(cessation) and the root men- (month). Menopause is an event that typically (but not always) occurs in women in midlife, during their late 40’s or early 50’s, and it signals the end of the fertile phase of a woman’s life.”  We’ve traditionally considered menopause as an inevetable  part of aging.  Hormonally, menopause occurs when the ovaries stop producing progesterone.
Progesterone:  often referred to as the “pregnancy hormone” by pharmaceutical companies, but is actually the true female hormone.  It’s the body’s most protective, ant-stress hormone.  It’s an anti-testosterone, anti-estrogen, made from -cholesterol, pro-gestational hormone.
Estrogen:  often referred to as the “female” hormone, but in reality yields more male characteristics.  Estrogen is a stress hormone involved in increasing blood sugar by slowing metabolism, breaking down proteins into sugar, blocking the cells’ use of oxygen, and mobilizing free-fatty-acids in the blood stream (“trans-fatty acids”), among many other processes.  High levels of estrogen in women has been shown to expedite menopause, increase risk of breast cancer and uterine cancers, ovarian cysts and fibroids, heart disease, diabetes, and other “lifestyle diseases.” 
More terms will come as this series unfolds, but we’ll start here.  At the onset of menopause, progesterone production by the ovaries stops, though estrogen production continues.  Progesterone is still produced elsewhere, but at a much lower level.  A healthy ratio of progesterone:estrogen is 3:1.  However, due to chronic stress of lifestyle, dietary choices, chronic exercise, etc., this ratio shifts dramatically the other way triggering menopause and/or other lifestyle diseases (it’s been shown and widely accepted that post-menopausal women are at higher risk of breast cancer due to this ratio shift). 
Estrogen is also a synergist for a multitude of other stress hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, prolactin, serotonin, pituitary stimulating hormone (PTSH) and others.  All of these hormones play a part in our stress response system.  These hormones are activated by and activate a response in the body that halts a lot of our developmental processes, changes our energy production to a less efficient and inflammatory process, and slows the metabolism (the cell’s ability to produce energy) in order to overcome the current stress.  
As this hormonal shift takes place, symptoms such as night sweats, hot flashes, increased anxiety and irritability- all effects of the above mentioned stress hormones- become common.  There is also a slowing down of the metabolism as these hormones decrease the cells’ ability to produce energy.   Adaptation (increasing strength and muscle mass) is also slowed as our youthful, adaptive hormones are less and the brain is not getting a proper “fuel mix” to make the adaptation.  
So what can we do about this?  Is this just inevitable, or can something be done to delay or at least minimize the effects?  If you read the definition above, there is the parenthasesed (is that a word?) section that says “but not always.”  If it doesn’t always happen, that would suggest it isn’t inevitable, right?  How can we optimize the body and minimize the effects?  Well, it’s complicated but can be done. 
Step 1: Assess.  We never do anything at Fitness Evolved until we assess first.  Then, we try a course of action, and re-assess.  The number one driver of our metabolism and producer of the youthful, protective hormones is the thyroid.  Many are not clinically “hypothyroid,” but sub-optminal thyroid function results in a slow metabolism, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, low energy, poor digestion, and sub-optimal immune function.  We’re not looking for a diagnosis, but wanting to assess thyroid function.  Dr. Broda Barnes showed that the best way to assess thyroid function is by testing body temperature and resting heart rate.  So, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms (males or females!), are going through or post-menopausal, or if you eat food and want to be healthy ;), this is the place to start. 
Assess your thyroid function and metabolism by taking your temperature and resting heart rate 2-3 times a day.  Write it down, and look for trends.  One measurement is never enough (for this or any other lab test)!  The body is constantly changing, so taking frequent measurements and looking for trends is the only way to get an accurate assessment of function. 
Next week we’ll talk more about this process and give you tips and ideas on what to do with it.  Until then……
Keep Moving!
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