Let's talk ...
about 'Men on Pause'
In my 20s, 30s and 40s, I loved sex. I loved the way men smelled, their defined muscles straining in the sun or the gym, and the sexy way they looked at me when I caught their interest. I liked watching their eyes dilate when they were turned on.
I was nearly always ready to have sex, apart from when doing domestic chores. (There is nothing sexy about partners who won't pick up after themselves, or get nasty because I have not picked up after myself!) But if a handsome man walked past I was willing to fantasize about his naked body wrapping around mine.
Then one day our progesterone levels drop, through the floor, and out the door, and nothing is much appealing about a man. In fact, as natural lubrication is not available the idea of him sticking his penis inside my vagina, or any other place is most distasteful. His smell is not arousing.
Personally, my stomach is not digesting, not that it was perfect before the hormones packed up and left town, (apparently onto my teenage daughter). Whatever troubles a person before the 'change' becomes larger then life while going through menopause.
Mental acuity is another aspect with wings. Memory: what was I saying? Loss of self. Depression. No one talked about finding a new normal as one does after the death of a loved one. For many of us this adjustment period takes years and can be as varied and confusing as puberty.
Menopause occurs over a period of about 10 to 15 years, beginning at about 35-years-old in many cases. This time frame is characterized by a lowering of the production of estrogen and progesterone, the two hormones created by the ovaries. It's the deficiency of progesterone that creates the unusual symptoms of memory loss, sleeplessness, and moodiness. Identifying these symptoms as menopause is shifty because most of women go through some sort of moodiness every month. Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS.) happens as progesterone levels drop while estrogen soars (the aggressive estrogen) prompting many woman to seek help for their symptoms in the medical profession.
Historically, medically trained Western doctors haven't made it easy--they're not trained, in general, to deal with 'syndromes"--and have dismissed them as "all in the head." As a result many women seek out counselors and/or psychiatrists for help with emotions. The ensuing physical, emotional and mental problems often aren't associated with these hormonal shifts. Many women have been prescribed antidepressant drugs, sometimes as early as their teens.
Medications such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) in women can delay or prevent orgasm, hinder lubrication of the vagina and engorgement of the clitoris. It can also result in loss of libido. Also, antidepressants can cause weight gain increasing glucose and lipid metabolism. To further exaggerate our fragile health stability women have been dieting one way or another for many years. Not goofy enough yet?
Here's a list of side effects from antidepressants: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, suicidal thoughts or action, sleepiness along with the aforementioned sexual dysfunction.
Despite these "advances" in medicine, bipolar and depression disability rates have soured by about 600 percent in the last 30 to 40 years, about the same length of time we've been told not to eat saturated fats and to replace them with hydrogenated vegetable oils and then fat free foods. Really?
(Did you know how fat free food can actually make you fat? In fact, "Fat-Free" foods are made with food additives, such as artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), and MSG, which will leads down a path of food addiction, obesity, and metabolic syndrome while increasing our risk for chronic disease. Plus, asparatine is a neurotoxin. There is nothing fat-free about fat-free foods, which are downright dangerous to eat. And our government wants to regulate supplements. Oh, please!)
Studies show that low levels of vitamin D (the fat soluble one) are found in depressed people.
Given that most woman who have followed this path are now arriving in their menopause years, tired, depressed, and out-of-breath, most will likely try conventional HRT (hormone replacement therapy). However, HRT has side effects as well, such as weight gain, depression, thinning of the hair (sound familiar?) Rosacia. And who wants horse urine in our bodies? Horse urine is found in such HRTs as Premarin, Prempro, Premphase, Prempac, and Premelle.
How can we control our estrogen intake?
Phytoestrogens are estrogen-like compounds found in certain foods, such as soybeans and flaxseed. These act like mild estrogens within the body, helping to relieve many of the symptoms of menopause.
Phytoestrogens appear to block the effects of excess estrogen stimulation of the breasts and uterus; many researchers believe that they have a protective action. One way to reduce circulating estrogen in your system is to have enough natural progesterone in your body, which acts as a counter-balance to excess estrogen or estrogen dominance.
Also watch we have to watch our carbohydrates and sugar intake because too much will produce insulin thus triggering the storage of more fat in the system. And more fat is connected to elevated levels of circulating estrogens.
There are several progesterone creams on the market. These creams can help with migraine headaches from cramps, PMS, and peri-menopause as well. Chose one that contains USP progesterone without mineral oil or petrochemicals as these contain nano estrogens, or estrogen mimickers.
- Herbs such as wild yam, vitex, and dong quay are phytoestrogens. They come in pill or tincture form.
- Flaxseed oil and Evening Primrose oil, (Essential Woman by Barleans) helps fight depression, fatigue, and clears up skin conditions. All Conjugated Linolic Acid (CLA) are helpful.
- Essential fatty acids (EFA) omega-3s (Nordic Naturals fish oil) are vital for the production and release of many hormones, including sex hormones and adrenal hormones. They are also an integral part of cell membranes, and they give these membranes the proper flexibility and suppleness. They stop your cells from drying out and give them normal cohesiveness.
- While progesterone cream balances the ratio of estrogen to progesterone in favor of progesterone, there are several supplements we can take that will sop up errant estrogens. DIM (Solary) and Sulforanes. They come from cruciferous vegetables. Home made sauerkraut and Kimchee contain wonderful vitamins, minerals and sulforanes that occur naturally in the fermentation process.
- Eat organic food whenever possible. Industrial cattle feedlots implant hormones in cattle to bulk them up, making more money per pound. The European Union banned beef imports from the USA in 1988 because of the hormone levels in US cattle, along with the many inherent pesticides and industrial chemicals.
- Products: Women also need to be aware of solvents, like nail polish remover and nail polish, which have estrogen-like effects. And also we have to consider reheating foods in plastic. Throw out the microwave, which changes the food on a cellular level. Do not use cosmetics with mineral oil or petrochemicals.
- Vitamin E: 400 IUs to 1200 IUs a day. It acts as natural hormone therapy on a molecular level. It can reduce hot flashes and mood swings.
- Vitamin C: 1,000 mgs to 3,000 mgs a day is helpful in smoothing out the peaks and valleys of the hormonal shifts.
- Extra Magnesium, 2 to 1 to Calcium: It can relieve anxiety, panic attacks, irritability and insomnia.
- Zinc: 50 mgs
- B6: 50-200 mgs, acts like a precursor of progesterone in your system.
Although more study is needed, it appears that low levels of tryptophan in the blood are related to estrogen and to the depression some women face during menopause. This amino acid is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. L-tryptophan may be used as a natural antidepressant and mood modulator for menopausal women. Affects are a better mood and ready for sex! Food sources of L-tryptophan include beef, pork, lamb, turkey, veal and cheese.
Taking L-glutamine increases the production of GABA. This process can also be aided synergistically by taking 50 milligrams of vitamin B6 daily. Increased levels of GABA in the brain serve as a natural calming and memory-enhancing agent, and generally help one to think more clearly. L-glutamine also reduces the craving for alcohol, should that have been a problem.
Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidus (the "good" bacteria in our intestines) cultures are important for women during menopause to help with metabolism and utilization of estrogen. These "good" bacteria help reduce the occurrence of yeast infections.
If you are a vegetarian please include at least 45-50 mgs of Zinc and consider a free-form amino acid supplement that you can get at NourishMe. Include L-Carnitine and Methionine. And, of course do not forget Vitamin B-12. Use the sublingual, 1,000 mcgs to 2,000 mcgs per day.
Now that we are feeling a little saner from eating, and sleeping well we can concentrate on getting our libido back!
Try Asian ginseng, black pepper extract, maca, (in any form) add a brisk walk for extra blood flow and a wee glow to the cheeks, and voila.
Here is the good news. There is life afterwards for you and your man. Sex comes back into play (operative word). Life comes back to the (born again) virgin!
Dr. Uzzi Reiss will present "Hormonal Optimization for Anti Aging" Saturday, May 26 from 11:15 -12:30 p.m. at the Sun Valley Wellness Festival. The author of four books about hormones, Dr. Reiss is the author of four books, Natural Hormone Balance for Women, How to Make a Pregnant Woman Happy, How to Make A New Mother Happy and The Natural Superwoman. These titles please us ladies.
For more information visit his website at Uzzi Reiss.