Quick note: to my male readers. Sorry but this post isn’t for you…
Why is it that PMS symptoms seem to get more intense with age? Years ago I started to notice that I seemed to get…let’s just say…a touch moodier, my cravings became stronger and well, sometimes right before my period (and sometimes right before ovulation) I would just get so damn tired .
When I was growing up, I’d hear my mom complain about the physical and emotional swings associated with her peri-menopause. And back then, it was what it was and there was nothing that could be done about it, you just had to grin and bear it. Now a days, there are things we can do to understand and try to manage our hormones and it can make all the difference in the world.
Fortunately, I learned that my more intense PMS symptoms were all a part of a hormone imbalance. Many of us (up to 80% of women) typically around the ages of 35-50 with deal with a hormone imbalance at some point that can cause Estrogen Dominance. Estrogen Dominance typically refers to a rise in estrogen or an imbalance between estrogen (too high) and progesterone (too low). It can cause fun symptoms like:
- Bloating (water retention)
- Weight/fat gain (especially around the abdomen, hips, thighs or rear end) or inability to lose weight
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Fibrocystic breasts
- Headaches (especially premenstrually)
- Mood swings
- Foggy thinking, memory loss
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Trouble sleeping/insomnia
Um check, check and double check. While there are things that can lead to estrogen dominance like being overweight (fat stores estrogen), too much stress, a low fiber diet (ideally you want to go to the bathroom once a day to help eliminate excess estrogen), endurance exercise, environmental xenoestrogens, too much sugar/caffeine, etc, it’s also just a part of life for many of us. Between the ages of 35-50 our hormones decide to get back on the crazy hormonal roller coaster they were on back when we were teens with our estrogen and progesterone being all over the place. At this age, our estrogen tends to go up or fluctuate a lot, and then drop as menopause begins. And, with aging, our progesterone tends to decline for many of the same reasons mentioned above. The problem is when we have an imbalance between our progesterone and estrogen we not only suffer from the symptoms of estrogen dominance but it can also lead to other issues like thyroid problems (low thyroid function), endometriosis, PCOS, autoimmune issues, breast cancer to name a few.
I’ve found two ways that have helped me to restore balance. One is by raising progesterone levels (see here for symptoms of low progesterone) using a small dose (varies person to person) of progesterone that I get from my doctor. Personally, I’ll use as little as 6.25 mg every third day from ovulation until menstruation and that’s all it. It really doesn’t take that much. But if you don’t have a doctor to help you with a compounding prescription, here are some other alternative ways to help your body support progesterone:
Evening Primrose Oil
Borage Oil or
The second thing or things that has really been a godsend are natural supplements that help my body to digest the excess estrogen. There are two in particular that can be helpful. They are:
DIM – Diindolylmethane is formed in the body from plant substances contained in “cruciferous” vegetables. It helps the body to break down and digest excess estrogen and promotes healthy estrogen metabolism.
Calcium D-Glucarate – It is a natural substance that promotes the body’s detoxification process and supports hormonal balance. Calcium D-Glucarate facilitates the detoxification process by inhibiting the re-absorption of estrogen-like toxins into the bloodstream, allowing them to leave the body and be excreted in the feces. Calcium D- Glucarate has been found in animals to lower unhealthy estrogen levels and thereby inhibit the development or progression of cancer.
You likely just need one or the other. I love my calcium D-glucarate but I know many that love their DIM and have had much success with it. Everyone is different so it’s really up to you to see what works best with your body.
I do test my hormones every quarter so I know how to best balance my progesterone and estrogen. Be sure to work with a healthcare professional in determining your levels. Also try to test on day 21 – 22 of your cycle (best days to evaluate your levels) and be consistent with that day every month so you can compare going forward.
Another great way to help promote healthy estrogen levels is to eat cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage since they all contain DIM (see above). So, with that said, I wanted to share with you one of our favorite snacks, Cauliflower Pizza Bites. I hope y’all like them and I hope that this post may help some of you out there!!
- 1 large head of cauliflower
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup soft goat cheese (Chevre) so 4 oz OR nutritional yeast if dairy free
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp celtic sea salt
- Preheat oven to 450F. In a food processor, blend your cauliflower until it has the consistency of rice.
- Then, in a large pan, pour cauliflower and add just enough water to cover it. Steam it for about 6-8
- minutes or until it softens. Next, pour the cauliflower into a colander and rinse it offto cool it some. Strain
- well. Then transferthe cauliflower onto a clean kitchen towel that is laid out flat. Wrap the towel up around
- the cauliflower and squeeze out as much water out as you can.
- Place the cauliflower along with the other ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix it with your hands
- until combined well. Next, grease your mini muffin tin and fill each cup up to the top while pressing the
- mixture down firmly and evenly. Cook for 15-18 minutes. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.