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The Menopause Diaries: Hormones are the new black where anti-ageing is concerned

by Helen Seymour
08th Nov 2018

Helen Seymour is in Peri-Menopause, or at least she thinks she is. In her weekly column we follow her on her journey towards the Menopause, learning as she does all about the big M.

If your face suddenly seems to age overnight, chances are your hormones have started to drop off. If you see a woman of a certain age, and her skin is glowing, her hair is thick and lustrous, yes, she could be genetically blessed, yes, she could be quietly having Botox, but yes, she might also be taking HRT and working on keeping her hormones beautifully balanced.

Oestrogen and Progesterone are the two big hitters when it comes to anti-ageing. They are BFFs in many respects, working hand in hand in a beautiful dance, to keep your own personal show on the road, BUT, different women experience different hormone patterns at different ages and stages of life. Some women are Oestrogen dominant. Some women are low in Progesterone. Others have a myriad of different issues. Hormones are incredibly complex, and as unique to you as your fingerprints. What’s more they are a moving entity, that shift and shape across your life. Which again, is all the more reason for Bio or Body Identical Hormone Treatment that is cut to shape the woman you are, and can be adjusted as your body shifts and changes.

Last week we talked about Oestrogen, today we’re focusing on Progesterone.

Fluid retention, serotonin, acne, sleep

Progesterone is a beautiful sex hormone. It is produced in the ovaries, in the adrenal glands and it is produced by the placenta during pregnancy. It regulates collagen synthesis, which tones and brightens our skin and keeps those wrinkles away. It also regulates fluid in the body.  Women low in Progesterone can become puffy under the eyes, or the hands, others will experience it around the belly. If you put on two pounds overnight, that is fluid retention linked to low Progesterone.

Progesterone regulates your endorphins, particularly serotonin. If your Progesterone is low, you may suffer from depression or low mood. You may crave carbohydrates or want to binge eat. Low Progesterone can also result in hair loss from the root. Serious hair loss in other words. Low Progesterone can cause acne, it disturbs your sleep, and finally, just for the craic, Progesterone sometimes “funnels” (apparently hormones love a good funnel) into Testosterone, which results in facial hair. Wonderful.

From a HRT point of view, Progesterone is involved in regulating the thickening of the uterine wall.  If you take HRT that just contains Oestrogen, the lining of the uterus can build up and increase a woman’s risk of developing cancer of the uterus. Progesterone is therefore often used in combination with Oestrogen, to reduce this risk.

However, there are other good reasons to take Progesterone as part of your HRT programme. It helps with Hot Flushes and Night Sweats, and it will actually help give you a long deep sleep, which is fantastic. Finally, it assists in the treatment of Osteoporosis, as it stimulates the formation of new bone.

Related: So folks, I am officially on Body-Identical HRT

Two ways to take

There are different ways to take Progesterone. You can take Progesterone cream, which is prescribed over the counter. Some women love this. Some say it has no effect at all.  Professor Studd, who I am attending, is not a fan. He and his team have spent over £100,000 studying preparations, and concluded it had no effect. At best, it might have a tranquilising and sedating effect if absorbed. The results of their studies are published in Menopause International.

Professor Studd prefers a natural Utrogestan 100mg for 7 days of each calendar month. This is an “Oral Micronized Progesterone” treated to remain active. Most gynaecologists/GPs would use a synthetic Progesterone such as Norethisterone or Medroyxprogesterone, which certainly protects the uterus. Unfortunately, it often reproduces PMS symptoms in women who are Progesteron intolerant, and therefore he prefers a more natural Micronized Progesteron.

There are two ways to take it. One is orally. The second is as a suppository through the vagina, or in layman’s terms you insert the tablet inside your vagina, very much as you would a tampon. Push it up as high as you can get it and leave it. That way you’re going straight to source, i.e. the lining of your uterus, and your system doesn’t have to break everything down, and pass it through your liver.

I’m starting my Progesterone on the 1st December, and the vaginal route is the one I’m taking. For a girl who put her Facebook and Instagram under a fake name and Private Account, never have I shared so much with so many.

Related: You may find yourself a bottomless pit of RED rage

Related: Loss of confidence during menopause made me a different person

Related: Self-care is not something that comes naturally at this stage of life