Why Does Libido Crash for Men and Women? How to Increase Testosterone Levels and Estrogen Hormones http://drchristianson.com/blog
Hey, Dr. Alan Christianson here, author of the New York Times’ Best Selling Adrenal Reset Diet and I want to talk about female hormones.
Complicated stuff, you know, this is one thing where guys do have it easier. We have this andropause drop but it’s a little more straightforward and simple, and fewer ups and downs. So there’s a couple of key players involved, we’ve got estrogens, there’s multiple ones of them, and progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, DHEA, there’s a lot of minor supporting characters, but those are the big ones that are most relevant. And what happens is the menstruating years change and then they stop, that’s a big transition.
Your body’s health is so much a function of regulating hormones and regulating hormones are very interconnected. So the thyroid, the hypothalamus, the pituitary, the adrenals, the ovaries.
The main change is with the ovaries but it rocks the whole boat, it affects everything to some extent, and it’s very significant. We define menopause as no menstrual cycles for a calendar year. And for the average woman that’s about 50 years and 3 months. And averages can be misleading. You can be perfectly healthy and go through menopause many years earlier, many years later.
If your mom did at a different time, that’s more probable for you also. But not knowing that, 50 years and a few months is the most common time to have your last period.
A year after the last period we say a woman is then menopausal, then 5 more years out, we say she’s post-menopausal. Now, coming up on menopause, there’s a timeframe in which these hormones change and the menstrual cycles start to change, but they don’t stop. And we call that perimenopause, and that’s where the first symptoms start to emerge. Classically, all the medical books say mid-40’s, it’s pretty common that it does start by mid-40’s, but there’s a lot of perfectly healthy women to where even late 30’s and early 40’s, they’re seeing some early perimenopausal symptoms.
And what are these symptoms? Well, they’re a lot. They can include changes in sleep, changes in weight, we can see hot flashes, night sweats, menstrual cycles can get heavier, premenstrual symptoms like cramping or breast tenderness can get much more pronounced, we can also see migraines coming on unexpectedly, digestive symptoms can shift.
There’s a lot of ways in which the gut and the liver are involved with the hormones and their changes. So gut function can change, women can notice just more digestive bloating, more gas, more sensitivities, you can also see immune changes so allergies can pick up, asthma can become more pronounced.
So, having said that, it sounds pretty scary, but it doesn’t have to be. And for some women, it’s a very different experience than others. Some, unfortunately, do notice many of those symptoms to a high degree, some barely miss a beat, and it’s pretty different.
And why is it that it’s different for some than others?
What’s happening is that the ovaries are really winding down, they’re making less and less hormone, and the adrenals are compensating. The adrenals are making a little more to back up. That’s especially true for the estrogens.
Now, there’s three main estrogens: there’s estrone, like ONE, so that’s E1; there’s estradiol, like E-IOL, so that’s E2; and there’s estriol, which is E3 like try, like tricycle. And the general process is that the ovaries are mostly making estradiol, or E2, and the adrenals mostly make estrone, or E1. So as the ovaries slow down, the adrenals pick up, and you go from more estradiol to more estrone. Now, when that happens smoothly, you don’t have a lot of symptoms.
If that’s not smooth, if the dips in estradiol are not compensated for, or if you make more estrone the same time you’re making more estradiol, and less when you’re making less, that’s when you see all those symptoms. So the healthier your adrenals are is a huge factor. And all the good things like your sleep, your sunlight, your carb cycling, your stress management, minimizing the adrenal stressors like the sugar, the alcohol, the caffeine, those things are all huge to lessening perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms.
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Alan Christianson is a Phoenix, Arizona-based Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) who specializes in natural endocrinology with a focus on thyroid and adrenal disorders.
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