Meet Ana and Liv…
Ana is mid-30s with three young children. Working full-time with a mortgage to pay off, she’s exhausted most of the time, needs a regular coffee hit to stagger through the day, often finds herself shouting at the kids and struggles to find the interest or energy for sex. As her friends share similar stories, she figures her experience is normal for a busy mum these days…so suck it up sister!
Liv is mid-50s and has managed to set herself up with a good balance of work and leisure time, but the energy she thought she’d enjoy when the kids left home has fizzled away like water through a leaky bucket. She sleeps poorly, wakes tired, feels sleepy after lunch and then wired just before bedtime. She’s less focused, suffers daily ‘brain fog’, feels depressed, and libido … well it’s non-existent.
Yep, they’re fictional characters, but their symptoms are definitely not. In fact, many women can probably relate to some aspect of Liv’s and Ana’s lives. Felicity Sinden and her team at Patient Advocates in Tauranga see women with these symptoms every day.
Ok, so what in the world is making us all so flippin’ tired and strung out?
Answer: Adrenal Fatigue!
You’ve probably heard about this little doozy before – one of those modern-day health complaints that every second person seems to be suffering from. Is it real, or are we just tired from lack of decent sleep?
It’s certainly a real issue says Felicity. “Stress, bad nutrition and lack of sleep all take their toll on our health and, if they’re not attended to, these baddies are smashing our adrenals.”
Felicity sheds some more light on this modern plight and explains what we can do to make us feel like energetic, vigorous women again.
What do the adrenal glands do?
Found at the top of the kidneys, our adrenals are the body’s powerhouse. Just a half walnut in size, they act as the battery pack as well as the shock absorber for the body. They make and release the hormones, DHEA and cortisol, which work together to help us bear the brunt of any stress – physical or emotional – and then bring the body back into balance and restore our energy.
Why is DHEA so important?
DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is the most abundantly produced of the sex hormones, in both women and men, and plays a big role in regulating both testosterone and oestrogen if those hormones are fluctuating or in decline. It also helps your immune system fight infection. It’s the go-to hormone for energy, immunity and mental clarity.
Why do they get fatigued?
Our adrenals do a fabulous job of cushioning the blows of our busy lives, but they can’t continue to absorb worry, trauma, bad sleep and crap food forever. Throw them too many stresses and pretty soon, they’ll scream ‘enough!’ Usually that happens any time after 30 years of age, when production of DHEA starts to deplete by around 3% each year. The constant battering, on top of a decreased supply of DHEA, pushes your body into hormonal imbalance and chronic fatigue. (Note, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a different issue, but ongoing adrenal fatigue can, in some cases, lead to this more serious health problem).
What do the symptoms look like?
Very similar to the symptoms of our fictional characters Ana and Liv. Overall fatigue is a biggie – sufferers will often wake tired, feel sluggish and ‘foggy’ until around 10am, and require coffee to give them a jump-start, only to hit an afternoon low point around 3pm. After an evening meal they’ll be wired and can’t sleep. They’ll often crave salty or sweet foods, suffer from mild depression, have a general lack of energy and motivation for everyday tasks, take longer to recover from illness or injury, and, sadly, their libido has called it quits!
How do you treat it?
Here’s the good news – you don’t have to put up with feeling like this! It’s a hormonal imbalance and that can be sorted using natural, bio-identical hormones to bring our body back into balance. So don’t rush off and buy some supplements thinking they’ll give you the boost you need. It doesn’t matter what we do in life and how many supplements we take, if our baseline of hormones isn’t right then we won’t be helping our body.
At patient Advocates we test your hormone levels so we know exactly what’s going on with you. We’re all individuals, and because DHEA works alongside the other sex hormones, different people will require a different treatment plan. Some women will respond fantastically to Natural Progesterone Cream (which we often prescribe first), while others may require some assistance from DHEA to get those hormonal levels up so they can reclaim the energy and motivation they once felt.
What are bio-identical hormones?
These are hormones which are biologically identical to the molecule produced by the body, and are the only type of hormonal supplements we use at Patient Advocates. They are prescribed to help restore the hormonal balance in women and men so they can regain a sense of overall wellbeing.
How are hormonal levels tested?
We determine DHEA levels via a blood test, and Progesterone levels via a saliva sample. Results show where the hormonal level sits on a standardised scale.
What about DHEA for men?
DHEA is just as important for women as it is for men, so we work with both genders to rebalance and restore hormonal equilibrium to make people feel great again. Of course, with men we test testosterone levels as well, and determine the correct partnering of hormones required for each individual.
How about I just take a relaxing island holiday?
That’ll be nice, but it won’t solve the underlying cause of your adrenal fatigue! You’ll escape the stress temporarily but your hormones will still be out of balance, and, once you get back into your routines, it won’t be long before your symptoms start right up again.
A better solution would be to start a programme of hormone rebalancing and then take that holiday in the sun – you’ll be giving your body the rest it needs to get back into equilibrium.
If you’re feeling a little or a lot like Ana or Liv, you CAN do something about it. For more information on natural hormone therapy, please visit www.naturalhormonetherapy.co.nz