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The PCOS Solution

Hormone life transition challenges for women

Saturday, July 29, 2017
Life for a woman can be one of transitions. After quite a few years of clinical practice I’ve concluded that the transitional times in a woman’s life are when she is more vulnerable to hormone imbalances and needs extra support. But there can be obstacles to getting that help.

In puberty, the body experiences a major transition from childhood to become capable of reproduction. In adolescence young women seem to be most vulnerable to development of chronic hormone disorders like PCOS and endometriosis. Many girls suffer needlessly from lack of information or a belief that their symptoms of painful, flooding periods (or lack or periods) are normal. It’s all too easy to mask period problems with the oral contraceptive pill, but if the underlying problem isn’t dealt with it may re-emerge when trying for a baby.

In child bearing years there are two big challenges: One is infertility, a challenge facing many more women than ever before. The other challenge is the massive hormonal shifts of pregnancy and childbirth (plus the extra demands of child care and sleep deprivation that goes with it). One vulnerability at this time is post-natal depression, and thyroid problems can often arise about now.

In later years there’s the emotional shift of the perimenopause towards menopause. Maintaining hormonal balance at this time becomes increasingly difficult which can result in some appalling menstrual cycles. With the end of periods at menopause comes another challenge: the massive drop in hormone production and the emotional transition of aging. Menopausal depression can appear.

Problem is, not attending to a hormonal problem can exacerbate problems later on. For example, an imbalance between oestrogen and progesterone in puberty can show itself later in fertility problems, post-natal depression and some horrible symptoms in perimenopause and menopause. But when you’re knocked sideways by hormonal problems it’s even more challenging to speak up for yourself when seeking a solution. It’s all too easy for your symptoms to be brushed off as “just a woman’s lot”. 

But when a woman is truly well she is more able to parent her children well, participate fully in her relationships, and really contribute to the wellbeing of her entire community. So perhaps it’s worthwhile to consider the underlying causes of hormones and treat them with a holistic focus. And if the woman in your life is having hormonal problems, consider going with her to her practitioner consultations, support her in accessing the care she needs.

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Olwen Anderson @olwenanderson


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