Chaos to Calm

The Progesterone Decline: Are You Irritated, Anxious and Overwhelmed?

April 09, 2023 Episode 4
The Progesterone Decline: Are You Irritated, Anxious and Overwhelmed?
Chaos to Calm
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Chaos to Calm
The Progesterone Decline: Are You Irritated, Anxious and Overwhelmed?
Apr 09, 2023 Episode 4

In this episode, Sarah discusses the importance behind one of the two key female hormones; progesterone. She explains its calming and soothing role in the body, how declining levels are linked to perimenopause, and the potential symptoms of low progesterone levels including irritability, anxiousness and overwhelm.

Tune in to find out about:
•  Why progesterone is important to different aspect of your health
•  All about progesterone’s calming effects
•  Common symptoms of low progesterone
•  How you can boost your levels naturally
•  Taking a food as medicine approach to supporting your hormones
•  Tips for reducing stressors in your lifestyle


Find my blog all about low progesterone here:
https://www.akesohealthcare.com.au/low-progesterone-perimenopause/

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Sarah, her services and the Freebies mentioned in this episode at https://www.ThePerimenopauseNaturopath.com.au

  • COMING SOON: Discover how to use food as your most powerful medicine, smoothing hormonal fluctuations and easing perimenopause symptoms naturally. (Yes, you have more options than hormone therapy!) Say goodbye to feeling out of control and hello to feeling more like your old self every day, with PerimenoPOWER (because who wants to pause anyway?!)
  • The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.
  • For more, follow on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Sarah discusses the importance behind one of the two key female hormones; progesterone. She explains its calming and soothing role in the body, how declining levels are linked to perimenopause, and the potential symptoms of low progesterone levels including irritability, anxiousness and overwhelm.

Tune in to find out about:
•  Why progesterone is important to different aspect of your health
•  All about progesterone’s calming effects
•  Common symptoms of low progesterone
•  How you can boost your levels naturally
•  Taking a food as medicine approach to supporting your hormones
•  Tips for reducing stressors in your lifestyle


Find my blog all about low progesterone here:
https://www.akesohealthcare.com.au/low-progesterone-perimenopause/

Send us a question for the FAQs segment or your feedback, we’d love to hear from you.

Find out more about Sarah, her services and the Freebies mentioned in this episode at https://www.ThePerimenopauseNaturopath.com.au

  • COMING SOON: Discover how to use food as your most powerful medicine, smoothing hormonal fluctuations and easing perimenopause symptoms naturally. (Yes, you have more options than hormone therapy!) Say goodbye to feeling out of control and hello to feeling more like your old self every day, with PerimenoPOWER (because who wants to pause anyway?!)
  • The Perimenopause Decoder is the ultimate guide to understanding if perimenopause hormone fluctuations are behind your changing mood, metabolism and energy after 40, what phase of perimenopause you're in and how much longer you may be on this roller coaster for.
  • Been told your blood test results are "normal" or "fine" while you feel far from your best? Discover the power of optimal blood test analysis with The Blood Test Decoder: Optimal Ranges for Women Over 40.
  • For more, follow on Instagram at @theperimenopausenaturopath.

00:03

Hey there. I'm Sarah McLachlan. Thanks for joining me on the Chaos To Calm podcast, a podcast designed for women over 40 who think that changing hormones might be messing with their mood, metabolism and energy and want to change that in a healthy, sustainable and permanent way. Each episode we'll explore topics related to health and wellness for women in their 40s like what the heck is happening to your hormones, what to do about it with nutrition, lifestyle and stress management, and inspiring conversations with guests sharing their insights and tips on how to live your best life in your 40s and beyond. So if you're feeling like you're in the midst of a hormonal storm, and don't want perimenopause to be horrific, then join me on chaos to calm as I share with you how to make it to menopause without it wrecking your relationships and life. 

 00:59

Hello, and welcome to the chaos to calm podcast episode number four. I am your host Sarah McLachlan, the perimenopause naturopath. And today I'm going to be talking all about one of our really key female hormones, which is progesterone, and specifically, the great progesterone decline. If I had sound effects, I would have made that big warbly because it really is like the great decline of progesterone and that is the major change that happens through perimenopause to menopause is our progesterone declines. 

 01:44

Now, last episode, I talked all about estrogen and how that one doesn't go down without a fight. It's estrogen Yeah, it gives us a boldness and assertiveness and get up and go when it's in the right balance. Progesterone is like the yang to the estrogen ying. Again, it's calming, soothing. It does lots of beautiful things in our body. It does just gently decline and be on its way in perimenopause there. And that's why you know, people all clients will come to me asking like, why am I so irritated. Now, I'm so grumpy and I can't sleep, I can't get to sleep or wake up and I'm worrying about all sorts of silly stuff. They feel like overwhelmed. You know, maybe you feel you've noticed it as well. You're like all these things I used to cope with just fine. Thank you very much. And now the smallest thing has me feeling like I want to curl up in a ball in the corner and cry my eyes out. So my friend, it's not just you it's low progesterone or reducing progesterone. It really has a significant impact on how you feel how you sleep, lots of different things in your 40s or in perimenopause there. 

 03:08

So as I said progesterone is one of the two key female hormones. We do have more than two, but they're the ones that we talk about the most estrogen and progesterone, the showiest ones. So we know progesterone, or you might know progesterone is really important in pregnancy and keeping a pregnancy going. It's also really important though, for things like your heart health and breast health, and it's a brain and nervous system hormone as well. Like I said, it's really calming and soothing, like your body's own version of Valium. And that's why it helps to regulate your stress response. So that's why you know, you might start feeling really overwhelmed and more easily stressed in your 40s and in perimenopause because you've got lower progesterone levels. 

 03:55

Robust progesterone levels make it easier for us to cope with stress. So the more progesterone you have karma, the happier that you will feel. So the only way that we make progesterone is by ovulating. I hate to break it to you. But those you know the pill, those synthetic progesterone, I'm saying that with inverted commas. They are not progesterone, they're actually often more closely like testosterone and not they don't have that soothing, calming impact that progesterone has in your body. So as we age and approach menopause and we're ovulating less, we will make less and less progesterone. You might experience the impact of low progesterone in your 40s or 50s. But some of you will feel it post babies in your mid to late 30s. So yeah, this also comes at the time it's like the busiest phase of your life. 

 05:00

If you've got children, a career, social life, maybe aging parents, hobbies, chores, like there's just a lot of stuff going on modern women and modern mothering, the last few years throw in a pandemic, just to tip it right over the edge there. So you might be feeling the impact of that hormone change and fluctuation more than ever before. So, actually, unfortunately, chronic stress can contribute to progesterone decreasing there as well. And by having our body focus more on those stress hormones, then our beautiful hormones and you know, stress can impact your cycle and reduce the ovulation or or decrease the frequency of oscillation. So you have less progesterone in that way as well. 

 05:59

And another contributor is excess estrogen, which can be more of a natural state in perimenopause, they're, like I said, estrogen and progesterone, yin and yang, they balance each other out. So if you have the higher estrogen, like I talked about in the previous episode, and as your progesterone is declining, there just isn't enough to buffer that estrogen change in it. And it can be really hard for you or your body and your mind to feel chill and relax. 

 06:31

So what are the symptoms of low progesterone? Well, when they're low, you might feel really irritable, your anxiety might increase. Like I said, you feel overwhelmed, easily less stress tolerant. You can gain weight, insomnia, because progesterone does help us get to sleep and stay asleep. So insomnia is real, you can feel really tired, but big wide awake, mood swings, night sweats, allergy flare ups, autoimmune conditions and flare ups. Like you might develop new autoimmune conditions, or have existing one flare up. As well as you might feel- with low progesterone, you might feel some symptoms that come with estrogen excess or dominance, like weight gain, fluid retention, anger, and just feeling really cranky. Yeah, so when to do any of these are sounding familiar that are you like I, that's what's going on. I hope that you're feeling that sense of aha! I understand now. And it helps take away that self criticism or judgment that you might have of yourself and thinking that you know, it's you or you're, you know, just not being better at being yourself or being a good mom or any of those notions or ideas that we have conditioned to us.

 08:17

Here's your friendly reminder that you can find links to the blogs associated with this episode, and show notes and heaps more over on my podcast page, www.chaostocalmpodcast.com. Don't forget the dubs, they're really important. And while you're there, why not send me a message and let me know something you'd love to know more about, or give me some feedback on this podcast. I'm making this for you to help you have a smooth and beautiful transition across to menopause, and really embrace living your best life. So one way that you can help me do this is let me know what you think of the episodes so far. And what you'd love to hear more about in the future. Who would you love me to interview or talk to? Is there someone that you think would be really great, you know, a woman in her 40s or 50s and that you'd love to hear more of her story. 

 09:15

So let's talk about how you can try and boost your progesterone levels naturally because like I said, You do make it when you ovulate. That is the only way that you can do it. But we can help support nourish your body so that your cycle will balance out and you will ovulate more frequently and make that progesterone there. So you know sometimes you might get offered creams or tablets from your doctor like bioidentical hormone therapy and they can make a really big difference for some women. And you know They may be the right choice for you. But that's something that you would need to discuss with your GP or your doctor. I prefer the food is medicine approach. It's what I know what I'm trained in, and what I see working well with my clients to help them and their bodies adjust and adapt to these changing hormones. Because remember, we're not necessarily looking to balance them, because these fluctuations that you're experiencing in perimenopause are part of the process and they're quite normal. So we don't, we're not necessarily able to change that or make them go away. But we can support and nourish our body and help it make that adjustment and that change and make it feel less hectic in your body there. 

 10:42

So, for really simple tips for boosting or helping support nourish your body to make more progesterone include keeping yourself at a healthy weight. Fat cells increase your estrogen levels throwing off that balance with progesterone. So maintaining a healthy body weight and body composition can help to smooth out that estrogen, roller coasters and fluctuations and help you have more or ovulate more and have more ovulatory cycles and boosts your progesterone. There are some foods that help boost progesterone in your body. So we want the brassica family things like cabbage, broccoli, kale, mustard leaves radish, they are so good at providing the building blocks for your body and your liver to metabolize estrogen and sort of tidy up any excess. And as I said, stop it from causing mischief in the body by staying there too long or getting too high. And boosting your intake of things like beans, soy pulses, legumes, lentils, nuts, pumpkin, spinach, and other whole grains like brown rice will help your body and your progesterone levels soon. 

 11:58

I don't think there's a day that goes by I don't talk about stress. So I never get sick of it though it is really the biggest blocker for health and happiness and weight, healthy body composition for women in their 40s and beyond and perimenopause and, you know, I'd say reduce your stress, I understand that sometimes it feels like you cannot, and that there's just so much going on in being a modern mum and modern woman that how do you even do like you can't get rid of your kids can't make them go away. And sometimes they're the stress or or just all the activities. I mean, we live in a 24/7 lifestyle, you have phones that we carry in our pocket. That mean anyone can contact us at any time of the day or the night and and expect an instant response. So sometimes it's being aware of those things as stressors and what a stress or is to be able to think about how to reduce them. So it is really critical for your progesterone levels for your cycle for your mental and emotional health as well as your physical health to reduce your stress. 

 13:15

When I say stress, I don't just mean deadlines, financial budgets or constraints or things like that. I'm talking about physical stressors as well, you know, being over scheduled, dashing around doing lots of different things, you know, oh my god, I'm late again, I'm late for work, I'm late to pick the kids up, we've got a dash here, go here, you get that you get that all of these things keep you in fight or flight mode in that stress response mode. And really increase your adrenaline and cortisol and impact your progesterone levels there as well. Also the physical aspect, eating foods that don't agree with your body is a massive physical stress or if you have sensitivities or intolerances. Well we do need to do the underlying work and help restore that function and health in your gut. But also don't eat the things you know, irritate you, I know that sometimes they're really yummy. And you're in a place where you're really busy. And it's hard to break the cycle, but they're just adding to your stress loan. 

 14:22

So yeah, reducing your stress will look different for you and what it looks like to me or other people there as well. But think about the daily habits and behaviors and things that you can do that will help build your stress resilience. If you can't take away some of your stressors, but also help to them and nourish and support your body. They're really true self care. And I have written a blog in the past on my website that you can read about self care versus self comfort because I'm not necessarily talking about one time or or eating the chocolate or the treats or those things to her reduce your stress. Talking about things like having a quiet moment and enjoying a hot cup of tea, doing something that really brings you joy, whether that's dancing, roller skating, going for a walk with a friend, or doing some gardening or maybe learning a new hobby, listening to your favorite songs, put some music on and dance. 

 15:22

Going to bed early is one of the greatest gifts that you can give yourself and your hormones. So I really encourage you to include that and lack of sleep is a massive stressor for your body. So if you do nothing else, please just go to bed, put yourself to bed 10, 10:30 at night. Don't stay up late scrolling on Netflix, I'd see you all there doing it. I fall in the trap too. Sometimes myself, it's like a vortex it sucks you in and you get lost for hours there. But yeah, go to bed early. And then maybe get up earlier and have some quiet time then or watch your show over a cup of coffee after your breakfast in the morning. But reduce your stress or whether it's an emotional or physical stress or please do the best you can to do that it will really support your hormones and exercise my friends.

 16:17

Yes, move your body for sure and focus on building muscle mass and strength. But do not flog yourself if you are already stressed and overworked and too busy. Going to that done a 45 or high intensity exercise class is just going to add to your body's stress load. So please don't don't fall into the trap of thinking that you need to create a calorie gap by increasing a lot and eating less that's not going to work.

 16:48

Spoiler alert, it doesn't work. And I will do a podcast episode on that in the near future. But intense exercises super stressful on your body, it actually has the opposite effect in terms of losing weight, it can make you gain weight, and it makes your body feel more stressed and overwhelmed. So gentle to moderate exercise. And if you really love the high intensity stuff, please just wants to twice a week allow plenty of recovery time and not for super long periods of time there as well. 

 17:19

So just to summarize is keeping a healthy body composition, eating those progesterone- boosting foods, reducing your stress and keeping your exercise moderate is just four simple ways that you can help boost your progesterone. 

 17:32

And in summary of the great progesterone decline is what happens to you in perimenopause. And that can be a contributing factor to you feeling symptoms like irritability, anxiety, less stress tolerance and resilience feeling really overwhelmed as well as things like insomnia, weight gain, night sweats and immune dysfunction there as well. 

 17:57

So that's all I wanted to tell you today in your progesterone 101 primer I hope you that you've enjoyed listening, and that you've taken some information or that it's helped you understand what is going on in your body because when we understand we have knowledge, it's so empowering and powerful, you get the opportunity to do something, or, or just be aware that there's a lot that you can do to help smooth it out and that you don't have to keep feeling the way that you are. So remember, common doesn't have to be your new normal, it is entirely possible to have a very smooth transition to menopause. And enjoy that time period there as well. Thank you once again for joining me and I look forward to speaking with you on our next podcast episode.

 18:54

It's really common for women over 40 to experience the chaos of changing hormones, mood, metabolism and energy. But I hope you know now that common doesn't have to equal normal for you or them. You can help others understand that aren't alone in feeling this way. And that perimenopause doesn't have to be horrific by subscribing, leaving a review and sharing this podcast with other women in their 40s and beyond. Thanks so much for listening and sharing your time with me today in this chaos to calm conversation.