Alright, Ladies, if you are experiencing what I now call power surges, others know them as hot flashes, then listen up closely. Men need to pay close attention, too, because if your partner is not experiencing this yet, there will come a time that you might feel like you're in the dog house from looking at her cross while she's power surging. Besides, men experience a drop in hormones too, which may not affect you the same way, but it is still vital to be proactive rather than reactive.
Let me give you a little recap first. We released an episode on the importance of our sleep cycles and what happens when we achieve restorative sleep. In addition to repairing and detoxifying, our bodies can replenish hormone levels. The hormones that you may be familiar with but not by name are cortisol, ghrelin, and leptin. Cortisol provides us with the flight or fight hormone to react and survive. Ghrelin is a hormone that increases your appetite that affects your body weight. Leptin is a hormone made by fat cells that signals you to decrease your appetite during a meal. These hormones are affected by poor sleep cycles, but our sleep is further affected by menopause.
If you are experiencing menopause, you are probably experiencing a drop in progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen. It may not seem like a big issue as caregivers go about their care routines, but every ounce of energy counts. When you are aware of areas to proactively check into as fatigue increases and mood swings begin to pull the Charlie Brown cloud over you, know you are not alone. Just because women experience this natural process does not mean there is nothing you can do about it.
Today's guest, Timeca Seretti, brings light to this topic through a comedy routine because laughter is uplifting and healing. Timeca is an American actress, singer, writer, producer, director, and funny girl that lights up any room. When she was in 6th grade, she saw her mother portray Beneatha in Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin in the Sun," Timeca fell head over heels with the stage. And even though Timeca was brought up singing, dancing, and being a pageant queen, she joined the US Navy after graduation. She served her country as a Seaman apprentice and traveled the world in the Western Pacific fleet aboard the USS Samuel Gompers. Upon receiving an honorable discharge from the US Navy, she enrolled at Indiana University as a computer science major. One day Timeca strolled through the theater as rehearsals for "Spoon River Anthology" were taking place, and her love for the theater was reignited.
I had the privilege to meet Timeca on the set of The Dark Red Movie as a producer, where she amazed me with her positive outlook and endless energy. She was juggling a busy schedule and still had the energy for her two-year-old granddaughter. Timeca had a routine set with meditation, yoga, and healthy nutrition, so I assumed that was the secret to her success. Those areas played a considerable role in her day-to-day energy. However, she learned to get her hormone panel tested when she knew something was very different in what makes women passionate about intimacy. So when I later watched her comedy routine on menopause, I laughed hysterically and then paused when I realized she brought to light what I had been confused about more recently.
Menopause is not a joke, but we need some fun to get through these changes. I fought the idea that my body was changing this way because it meant I had to get used to a different kind of "O," from orgasm to old age. At only 46, my body has started to change, but my mindset was far from getting "old." During our new Covid way of life, having added fatigue was alarming, but when it came with hot flashes, a loss of interest in sexual intimacy, and light depression, I knew it was what I had dreaded ever since I turned 45. I knew these changes were around the corner. Only I was hoping that corner was still at least five to seven years away. The national average for women starting menopause is between 45 and 55.
So what is happening to our caregivers who become so tired? Is it that we are incapable of managing this level of stress? Maybe. Or are we already experiencing fatigue due to a shift in hormones, so we do not have the mindset and energy we need to manage the fluctuation of caregiver stress?
Why are these hormones important for our energy levels?
Let's break them down a bit more to be transparent because if you are experiencing menopause (natural or surgical) or even man-o-pause (it's a thing!), then your hormone levels are dropping, causing any one of the following symptoms - insomnia, night sweats, urinary urgency, irritability, mood swings, and mild depression. You may also notice vaginal dryness, dry skin, dry eyes, and dry mouth, which have products to remedy the discomfort. Other symptoms include racing heart, headaches, joint, and muscle aches, change in libido, memory lapses, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, and possibly hair loss or thinning.
Progesterone - Even though this hormone's primary function is to regulate menstruation and support pregnancy in the female body, it also affects the regulation of fluid levels in the body. For men, progesterone is associated with sperm development.
· The most noticeable signs of low progesterone levels are irregular periods and short cycles. Others may also notice mood changes, sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression.
· Provided you do not need progesterone therapy, then Healthline author Rachel Nall, MSN, CRNA, suggests you can begin adding it to your daily meals and snacks by consuming beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, nuts, pumpkin, spinach, and whole grains
Testosterone - Although this hormone's primary function is associated with sex drive and sperm production for men, it also affects bone and muscle mass, how men store fat in the body, and red blood cell production. The production of testosterone spikes during puberty but begins to dip after 30.
· The most noticeable signs of low testosterone are less energy, weight gain, depression, moodiness, low self-esteem, less body hair, thinner bones, poor concentration, and a decreased sex drive.
· Low testosterone in women can happen after removing the ovaries or diseases related to the pituitary, hypothalamus, or adrenal glands.
Women might experience facial hair growth while the hair on their heads begins to thin. The dreaded female whiskers may need to be trimmed or plucked on your lip and chin more often.
Estrogen - This hormone is not just a female hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle and reproductive tract. Estrogen also affects the urinary tract, the heart and blood vessels, bones, breasts, skin, hair, mucous membranes, pelvic muscles, and the brain.
· The most noticeable signs of low estrogen are dry skin, weak or brittle bones, trouble concentrating, moodiness and irritability, hot flashes and night sweats, irregular or no periods, tender breasts, and for women, vaginal dryness.
· Low estrogen can lead to weight gain. High estrogen levels can irritate the cells that produce insulin in our body, making us insulin resistant, allowing blood sugar to rise.
· Increasing estrogen naturally means adding phytoestrogen-rich foods to daily nutrition through plant-based sources (kale, spinach, chard) and supplements such as vitamins B and D, evening primrose oil, Chasteberry (also known as Vitex Agnus-Castus), mineral Boron (also found in kale, spinach, apples, nuts, grains, raisins, and prunes), and the herb black cohosh.
I am grateful to know now that adding fresh moringa leaves to food for three months improves menopausal hot flashes and sleep problems because of the estrogen and progestational properties. Mom had a hysterectomy before she started menopause, so I did not get to ask her what worked for her symptoms or know when to expect it age-wise. Now that I am in my mid-40s and she is in stage 6 of Dementia, I feel like I missed out on this kind of knowledge being passed down. Especially knowing the foods that worsen menopausal symptoms like processed and spicy foods, fast food, alcohol, caffeine, and fatty meats. I also feel like she had an opportunity to manage her hormone levels but accepted her changes as another sign of old age.
Protecting our sleep cycle is vital and related to our hormones. Once you can get your hormones balanced, keep in mind that an orgasm a day keeps the moody blues away and helps you sleep well. You can see the cyclical pattern. Our loved ones living with Dementia can benefit from this form of tension release without added sleeping pills or mood stabilizers. Just because they are living with Dementia does not mean those urges disappear. Studies are being done to find out why this is a fact and how they can help our bodies produce the same result without the desirable "O," but we are still a ways off from those results. We do not realize the benefits until we no longer desire the big "O" and start feeling the little "o" - old.
If any of these topics resonates with you, schedule an appointment with your doctor to have a blood and urine panel to check your hormone levels. It is good to seek support groups, counseling, or read about these changes more in-depth to be proactive in your changing body because physical stress will quickly add to your emotional stress. Many of the symptoms can also signify other medical issues taking place like depression, bladder control, or heart issues. So keep in mind that age is as much of a number as a mindset. Keeping your hormones balanced will help you as a caregiver and have a better life experience period.
Thank you for joining in and listening with us today. You can find more about this topic on the blog at www.jessicalizelcannon.com. I hope this gave you more food for thought and until next time, BE PROACTIVE. Take care everybody.
Intro: Vacation Time by Khris Paradise
Outro: Misty by Khris Paradise