Article by Lisa Ferguson, Frisco Style Magazine

We’ve all heard the phrase “Happy wife, happy life.”

It turns out there may actually be quite a bit of truth to that adage. After all, home is supposed to be a place of refuge from the stresses of life – work, school, relationships and finances among them. However, as many spouses can surely attest, the mood inside of a home can quickly go from harmonious to harried, impacting everyone under its roof, when a wife/partner or mother isn’t feeling like the best version of herself.

From fatigue and irritability to headaches and weight gain, it may be surprising to learn that these and other often-debilitating, ongoing ailments frequently experienced by women may be the result of hormonal imbalances. In a 2019 survey of 2,000 U.S. women aged 30-60, nearly 47 percent of respondents revealed that they have experienced the symptoms of a hormone imbalance. However, 72 percent of those polled said they did not know until later that their hormones were to blame for negatively affecting their overall well-being.

Hormones act as chemical messengers in the body, traveling through the bloodstream to organs and tissues where they impact metabolism as well as mood, sexual and reproductive functions. They “play such an important role in … how we feel,” explains Noel Koenke, a certified natural hormone balancing specialist with BeBalanced Natural Weight Loss Centers in Frisco. “Moms and wives and daughters – all of those roles are affected by our health and how we feel about ourselves.”

Fluctuating hormone levels are most commonly the culprit for the hot flashes that some women experience during menopause. However, Ms. Koenke says, “It’s a newer concept for people to be bringing hormones into question” when pondering potential causes of such symptoms as sleeplessness, fluid retention, headaches, so-called “brain fog” and decreased libido, as well as while struggling to shed excess pounds despite following strict diet and exercise regimens. Hormonal imbalances are often “the last question that women tend to ask about when they find they can’t lose weight but are actually the key to the solution.”

The sex hormone progesterone is the body’s natural fat burner and diuretic. It also works to calm anxiety, slow the growth of abnormal tissue and aid in restful sleeping. However, by the time women reach the ages of 40-60, their level of progesterone production drops by about 80 percent. Meanwhile, production of the hormone estrogen only drops by about 20 percent. This can cause increased weight gain, fluid retention, mood swings and interrupted sleep as well as stimulate tissue and abnormal-cell growth.

Think of progesterone as the “parent hormone,” Ms. Koenke says, and estrogen as the “rowdy teenager.” Although progesterone is supposed to be “the one in charge … when its levels drop below estrogen, you lose the ability to burn fat efficiently, anxiety and depression increase, and you have trouble sleeping because estrogen (becomes) a dominating hormone. When progesterone and estrogen are out of balance, it is like putting a rowdy teenager in a beach house all weekend without any parental supervision – there are going to be problems. Even if you’re eating right, even if you’re working out, it can be virtually impossible for your body to lose that weight.”

Also in the hormonal mix is cortisol. Best known as the stress hormone, it regulates a variety of the body’s processes including immune response and metabolism. Despite the “bad rap” cortisol often receives, Ms. Koenke points out that this buffering hormone is needed to “survive stress.” Without it, men and women would experience chronic physical pain. However, “When cortisol is chronically high, which it is for a lot of us managing high levels of stress, it signals a `fight or flight’ response in the body to funnel in blood sugar for energy. Insulin is then released to carry the blood sugar to the cells for fuel, but with the copious amounts of cortisol and insulin, the cells become resistant and won’t open up to receive the glucose,” she explains. With those high levels, the body “thinks we need to physically fight or run away. However, in most cases, we are sitting at a desk or having a fight at the kitchen table or driving, so the blood sugar released is not being used for energy and, instead, eventually gets stored in fat cells.”

The effects of hormonal imbalances can be devastating for women, especially as they move into and through perimenopause and menopause. “They’re suffering through hot flashes and night sweats and not being able to find any relief,” she says. Also, when carrying extra, unwanted pounds, “You don’t feel good. … That causes a lot of stress in the home and on relationships in general. … I always say, `You can’t give what you don’t have.’ If you don’t feel that level of (self) acceptance or comfort in your body, you can’t give that to other people. It has to start with yourself and with self-care.”

McKinney resident Shawn Lambrecht, who works as a software trainer, said she has experienced a dramatic improvement in her perimenopausal symptoms since starting a hormone-balanced program earlier this year. After losing 30 pounds in eight weeks, her energy levels have also increased. Previously, “I would stay up late at night and have drinks and watch movies and … I would sleep in most mornings because I didn’t feel good,” she says. These days, “I have energy. I get up in the morning … and I’m ready to go. I don’t feel like I have to nap in the middle of the day, and I’m engaged with my work.”

When a woman’s hormone levels are in check, the positive results can spill over into all aspects of life, even at home. “Negative moods are directly connected with lower progesterone levels,” Ms. Koenke explains. “When we’re able to restore those, a more positive mood comes about. They have more energy. They’re thinking more clearly. They’re more productive around their home. They’re taking pride in themselves and treating themselves better, which translates into their family life. We’ve had clients whose husbands have said, `Thank you for giving me my wife back.’” 

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