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Breaking Women's Hormone Myths

The truth about what’s happening to our bodies

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The debate around women and their hormones has been raging for years. With women’s issues on the rise and equality at the forefront, it’s time to challenge common misconceptions and dispel damaging myths surrounding premenstrual syndrome, postpartum depression, and menopause.

The debate around women and their hormones has been raging for years. With women’s issues on the rise and equality at the forefront, it’s time to challenge common misconceptions and dispel damaging myths surrounding premenstrual syndrome, postpartum depression, and menopause. These hormonally influenced conditions are often misunderstood and loaded with negative connotations that still associate them with physical and emotional instability. Hormones do not make women incompetent, irrational, unworthy, or unattractive, but the struggle for understanding is real, and it’s time to get this conversation started.

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01

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS): Myth #1

Young upset unhappy woman suffering from menstruation pain, PMS at home. Abdomen and stomach pain during criticals days. Health problems

PMS doesn’t exist

Fact

PMS exists, and experts claim that up to 90 percent of women suffer from one or more physical and psychological symptoms, of which more than 150 have been described in the literature. Most women have experienced varying degrees of PMS without significant disruption to their daily lives.

02

PMS Myth #2

Close up young Asian woman feeling upset, sad, unhappy or disappoint crying lonely in her room.

PMS is a mental disorder that causes irrational, overemotional behaviour

Fact

According to hormonal expert Dr. Cobi Slater of the Essential Health Natural Wellness Clinic, a person’s emotional state and ability to make sound decisions are more strongly determined by individual stress factors than by PMS.

While PMS is prevalent, and usually tolerable, premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD), a severe form of the syndrome affecting 3 to 8 percent of women, can significantly affect a woman’s life in the days before menstruation. Although more intense, PMDD treatments are available to minimize long-term physical and emotional effects.

03

DSM-5 Symptoms of PMDD

Misery, infelicity. Brunette woman girl about to cry wiping tears sneezing in a tissue drinking tea, coffee, hot beverage. Negative human emotion, face expression, reaction, body language The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) states that premenstrual dysphoric disorder has 11 symptoms. You must experience one of the first four symptoms regularly, and at least five of the 11, to be diagnosed with PMDD. They include

  • markedly depressed mood and feelings of hopelessness, or self-deprecating thoughts
  • marked anxiety, tension, feelings of being “keyed up” or “on edge”
  • marked affective lability (suddenly sad or tearful)
  • persistent or marked anger or irritability, or increased interpersonal conflicts
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04

PMS Myth #3

Moody yong woman sitting at home

If you have PMS or PMDD, you’ll just have to live with it

Fact

Suffering with symptoms is often unnecessary. Slater explains, “There are 70,000 registered chemicals known as estrogen disruptors, or xenoestrogens, in the environment that wreak havoc on our hormones and magnify symptoms.” According to Slater, doing as much as possible to avoid these may reduce symptoms.

05

To reduce symptoms of PMS

Evening primrose oil in a glass bowl, with fresh evening primrose flowers in the background To keep hormones balanced and to reduce symptoms, Dr. Cobi Slater and Selkirk Naturopathic Clinic’s Dr. Sarah Nyrose recommend the following natural supports.

  • Vitamin B6 and magnesium may reverse the effects of estrogen excess and increase concentrations of serotonin, dopamine, and progesterone.
  • Evening primrose oil and vitamin E may alleviate breast tenderness.
  • Magnesium may help with stress reduction and fluid retention.
  • Calcium may help to relieve general symptoms.
06

Postpartum depression (PPD)

Hush little baby. Troubled mommy is sitting on bed and embracing her child with care. Copy space in left side Postpartum depression can be devastating for a new mom when her blissful expectations of motherhood fall short.

Myth #4: PPD is your fault

Fact

If you are one of the 13 percent of moms suffering from PPD, it can feel emotionally devastating, but it’s not your fault. PPD is not a result of something you did wrong, and understanding this fact can help new moms seek help faster.

There are a number of psychosocial and biologic factors that put a woman at risk, and studies show that PPD may be related to a particular sensitivity to hormone fluctuations. Seeking treatment early is recommended for a healthy, safe recovery.

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07

Myth #5

Happy african family holdings hands together outdoor during mother day - Mom, father and daughter having tender moments in nature green park - Love and unity concept

You are alone

Fact

Asking for help when it comes to PPD can be difficult, and according to Slater, it’s the least talked about hormonal imbalance. The stigma and fear of humiliation leaves many women feeling powerless, but there are many support groups and online communities available, in addition to treatment suggested by your health care practitioner. Lean on friends and family who can play a pivotal role in recovery and may help with early detection.

08

To reduce symptoms of PPD

Bowl and spoon with cod liver oil pills on light background Similar to family members that depend on one another for support, hormones are a family of messengers that help the different systems in our bodies communicate.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids may help with symptoms of depression.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy may also be an effective tool in dealing with depression.
  • Peer and partner support plays an important role in prevention and recovery.
  • Acupuncture and massage may help relieve stress, pain, and symptoms of depression.
09

Myth #6

Healthcare concept of professional psychologist doctor consult in psychotherapy session or counsel diagnosis health.

PPD will go away on its own

Fact

Once PPD is identified and under medical supervision, Slater claims that nutrition and lifestyle modifications can play a significant role in your journey to wellness. However, PPD will not disappear on its own or with a few positive changes. PPD is a serious disorder requiring the assistance of a health professional.

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10

Menopause

Cheerful mature lady is communicating with husband while relaxing with mugs of tea in green countryside According to Dr. Sarah Nyrose of the Selkirk Naturopathic Clinic, negative associations with menopause are often cultural. She believes that menopause should be celebrated and expressed as a shared experience: “Menopause should be viewed as a natural and normal event. It is the beginning of a new chapter in life, with the opportunity for change and growth.”

11

Myth #7

Group Of Mature Female Friends Enjoying Meal At Home

Menopause is a sudden transition

Fact

Menopause does not happen quickly. It develops gradually and is the official end of menstruation, characterized by 12 consecutive months or more without a period. As we age, our ovaries produce less of the menstruating hormones estrogen and progesterone until eventually, usually by our mid-fifties, our periods stop altogether.

12

Myth #8

Hot flashes. Exhausted mature woman resting on sofa and having hot flash

Most symptoms of menopause aren’t treatable

Fact

Sleep disturbances, hot flashes, weight gain, and libido changes are just some of the symptoms women may experience during menopause. However, Slater reminds us that “suffering from these symptoms is often unnecessary, as there are many effective, natural treatments available.”

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13

To reduce symptoms of menopause

Ashwagandha superfood powder and root in spoon on wooden table.

  • Reduce exposure to xenoestrogens such as bisphenol A (BPA), polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), and butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP).
  • Chasteberry, passion flower, and black cohosh may improve mood and increase progesterone levels.
  • Vitamin D with calcium may help guard against the onset of osteoporosis.
  • Adrenal supports such as ashwagandha, maca root, and rhodiola may help adrenal glands increase hormone production and balance.
14

Some natural supplements that may help

Dry tea leaves and dry green tea in cup on brown wooden background, top view. Healthy alternative medicine. Traditional tea drinking.

For PMS

  • vitamin B6 and magnesium
  • evening primrose oil
  • exercise
  • limiting exposure to xenoestrogens, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar

For PPD

  • support and friendship groups
  • omega-3 fatty acids
  • light to moderate exercise
  • good nutrition

For menopause

  • theanine
  • time-released melatonin
  • black cohosh
  • good sleep hygiene
15

Myth #9

Close up of mature woman folding blue yoga or fitness mat before or after working out at home in living room. Healthy life in covid-19 time lockdown. Focus on hand. Little bit of film grain

Menopause should be feared

Fact

Menopause is not a medical condition; it’s a natural phase of a woman’s life. It doesn’t need to be cured; however, risk for certain medical conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis increase after its onset.

Nyrose emphasizes that menopause is not to be feared, but is “a great time to reflect on health, lifestyle and goals, and with the help of a natural health care provider, develop a preventive health care plan.”

For many, women’s hormones are mysterious, and negative stigmas often lead to misconceptions surrounding their physical and emotional effects. Through education and a quest for truth, we can dispel these myths and replace them with connection, understanding, and acceptance.

For more information on PMS, PPD, or menopause, contact Dr. Cobi Slater at drcobi.com or Dr. Sarah Nyrose at drsarahnyrose.com.

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16

The significance of stress

African american businesswoman feeling unwell suffering from headache migraine touching forehead at team meeting, upset black woman employee frustrated by business problem or work stress, head shot According to Dr. Cobi Slater, the most important step in balancing hormones is stress management. Create a stress inventory and identify the stressors that can be changed with an action step consisting of how and when it can be changed.

17

Strategies for all hormone conditions

healthy vegan lunch bowl. Avocado, quinoa, tomato, cucumber, red cabbage, green peas and radish  vegetables salad. Top view

  • Eat well by choosing colourful vegetables and lean sources of protein for increased energy, and reduce refined flours to aid in digestion. Whole, unprocessed foods are best.
  • Reduce stress with a stress inventory.
  • Practise good sleep hygiene.
  • Exercise to help produce natural endorphins and boost serotonin levels.
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