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Hormone health for women – why is it important?




Week on week I talk about hormones with women and it pleases me so much that in the health and fitness industry it is becoming more and more spoken about and recognised as a big factor in our feelings of health and wellbeing. It hasn’t always been the case though and many women give me a confused old look when I ask them how their libido feels on a scale of 1-5 as part of our weekly check ins. It isn’t because I want to know all your dirty little secrets – it’s because our feelings of libido is a nice, basic marker of where our hormone health is at. You might have heard the phrase – ‘happy, hungry and horny’ used, if we have those in place, our hormones might just be on the right track!

 

What are hormones then? Well, simply, chemicals in the body sending messages to influence various processes in our clever, clever bodies – they factor in everything from our periods (or lack of!), our hunger, our metabolism, our moods, the list goes on!

 

As we go through our lives, maintaining healthy levels of our hormones becomes important for different reasons but with some basic behaviours we can, most of the time, get ourselves in a jolly healthy place. Right from when we are children growing, things like thyroid and insulin play a huge part in our growth and development, then we enter those teenage years where our reproductive hormones, oestrogen and testosterone need taking care of as we ensure that we can reproduce later in life.

 

A little side note here – even if you wouldn’t like to have children at any point in your life, reproductive hormones and getting this right, and importantly a healthy menstrual cycle is absolutely pivotal for our health. Overall well-being relies on these hormones being at healthy levels as well as our sexual development and fertility. Of course, as we go through life we may experience changes and irregularities in our menstrual cycles and often, that is nothing to worry about but hormonal imbalances over a long period of time in this stage of our lives can indicate things to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or fertility challenges.

 

Beyond adolescence our hormones remain just as pivotal – particularly in things like our metabolism. Think insulin that regulates our blood sugar ensuring that we don’t live with diabetes.

 

Cortisol is another big one that I focus on a lot with clients, through working on our stress management practices. If we don’t manage life’s stressors, both physical and mental, cortisol, which is our stress hormone, can wreak havoc with our metabolisms, immunity, mood, health behaviours around physical activity and nutrition – impacting our goals hugely. I hope that by now, we are starting to see the importance of a holistic approach to our health, why I focus on it ALL and not just getting clients to eat a certain number in their tracking app or to run a certain mileage each day. The body is a complex thing and if I programme that for you one week, if our hormones are doing something funky the next week we simply might not be up to it, we might not be able to put intensity into our training or it could even be detrimental. We HAVE to look at the whole picture – hormones being a super important part of that.

 

Now the biggie and I know the one that many of you have been waiting for – menopause. As we move through the menopause, at whatever age you might be when your body decides that it is ready, because it is VERY wide ranging, our oestrogen and progesterone production declines fairly drastically. Fun fact – men experience what we call andropause which is a similar time in their lives whereby testosterone production levels decrease.

 

We know that as the decline in these hormones rages through our bodies, we can get a whole host of unpleasant symptoms with it – I am passionate about helping women through this stage of their lives to manage symptoms, to be able to see our menopausal years as a new lease of life rather than something we have to endure feeling sub-par for the remainder of our days – it can be done!! I want you to feel like glorious you again!

 

Something we are seeing more and more of as the world around us changes so much, is an increase in anxiety and depression amongst just about all areas of the population. Again, this can be brought on by hormone imbalances – namely, serotonin and dopamine. So, our mental AND physical health relies on this stuff team!

 

So, how can we ensure that we are doing all of the right things by our hormone health? It’s the basics, it’s getting the ‘big ducks’ in a row as I like to say. No fancy diets, certainly nothing restrictive, no ‘go-to’ exercises, just the old-fashioned basics that we know to work well – sleep, moving well and sensibly, stress management and adequate nutrition full of all of the major food groups. Get these things in place and we are most of the way there – of course, there are nuances but basics first, only then can we address those nuances.

 

If we don’t get these things nailed, that’s when we start to hear complaints of physical and mental health issues, metabolism issues, reproductive issues – and the rest! Not feeling as tip top as you perhaps should? Maybe it’s something you need to have a think about – do you have all of those seemingly small, but really, big things in place?

 

Health is life long, not Monday to Friday, small positive habits day in and day out – this stuff is big but doesn’t have to be difficult. Prioritise your hormonal health today, only then can we feel energised to attack each day as we should.

 

If I can help you or if you have any questions at all off the back of this one, just shout. I’d love to work through your journey with you!

 

Peace and love, A x

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