We all know that hormones are fickle little things. The question is why are they that way and how do we keep them under some semblance of control?
One of the most interesting and wonderful (most of the time) things about being a woman is that life is never boring. Women go through lots and lots of changes throughout life, even daily. What sometimes isn’t fun is when our hormones reek havoc on us and change our moods. In fact, from puberty on, we go through fluctuations. These can be small and have no effect on our day to day life. Sometimes they can be as dramatic as the tide coming or going.
How do hormones affect us?
The truth of the matter is that women are affected daily, both mentally and physically. In recent years (decades really) research into hormones has become much more focused on the physical area. Science is starting to come to understand the key role that these fluctuations may play in how we metabolize medicines, what symptoms present for heart disease and stroke, and how we age.
Only recently has any research been done on the results of our libido. When it comes to our libido, most jump to sexual desire, it is so much more than that. Your libido gives you energy, making life full of zest. This gives us the boost to be productive and energetic, filling our souls with vitality. Yes, it does also provide the desire for sexual fulfillment and intimacy.
Finding common ground
Whether you are 15 or 50, as a woman, there is one thing we all have in common… hormones! There is no question that fluctuations impact our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and moods. The question then becomes, how are you going to manage it? I can not tell you how many times a week I blame my behavior on hormones. We all do (you know you do) this for one thing or another. Acne, depression, lack of energy, lack of desire, and yes weight gain. All of these have been blamed on hormones.
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What are hormones?
Simply put, they are chemicals that are supposed to regulate everything from physical strength and growth to moods and sexual development. Estrogen, the female sex hormone, is produced by the ovaries and without it, without it, a young girl cannot reach sexual maturity. Meaning she will not ovulate (or have children) or develop breasts.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone. This is produced in the testicles, and without it, a boy can’t reach sexual maturity either. Meaning their voice with not deepen and they will not grow body or facial hair. Both hormones are found in both sexes just in much smaller amounts.
The effects of hormones go beyond mood swings. An imbalance here has been linked to increased risk of breast and uterine cancers, heart disease, obesity, loss of bone mass, fatigue, and sleep problems. Making poor diet and lifestyle choices, having stress, and even some medications can also magnify the negative effects of a hormonal imbalance. Let’s take a closer look.
For many women, PMS begins in their 30s (for some even earlier). Symptoms can show up as early as two weeks before your period begins but generally stop once it begins. These symptoms can vary widely and range from mild to severe. Some may include:
- weight gain
- breast swelling and tenderness
Studies have shown that PMS is not just the result of hormones but also the changes in the brain’s chemicals, including serotonin. If at any time your symptoms seem to be more than usual or more than you are comfortable with, you should always talk to your doctor.
Pledges for balance
- Exercise more often. This will help with mood and can decrease the symptoms of PMS
- Look for lower sodium food options. This can help reduce weight gain, bloating, and breast swelling.
- Eat plenty of complex carbs and cut back on simple sugars.
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake. You can reduce irritability, mood swings, and breast discomfort.
- Relax. Meditation and yoga techniques can ease physical discomfort and help with stress.
- Drink lots of water. Preventing dehydration is important because it can aggravate PMS symptoms.