Date: Sunday 26 March 2017
Current weight: (I am keeping my scales in storage until I decide on exactly how to go about break my plateau – please bear with me)
In my last blog dated 19 March 2017, I said that it might not be a good idea for women to be on bio-identical HRT for more than 5 years. Well, a member of a group I belong to pointed out that with natural bio-identical HRT there is no time limit and said that she knew of a lady who has been on it well into her 70s. If this is correct then it is wonderful news in my view because it represents another option for women.
The other thing that I have picked up from my research on female hormones specifically is that it is helpful to analyse the effects of these on our health across our lives. I had no idea for instance that HRT could be used to correct hormone imbalances in women who are of conventional childbearing age. Examples include using hormone replacement therapy to correct severe pre-menstrual syndrome and oestrogen dominance. HRT has always been linked with menopause in my view and accordingly couched with negativity, shame and loss.
Thankfully some doctors are beginning to question why both men and women should risk the worst effects of old age by failing to top up falling hormone levels. In fact in a BBC Radio 4 programme called Rewinding the Menopause, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0643vfl. – Dr Kutluk Otkay asked a hypothetical question which I paraphrase as follows; “If a baby is too large should we let the mother and baby die during childbirth as it would be unnatural to apply medical intervention? Other contributors on the programme were not so keen and one said she worried about medicine attempting to cure women of being human and so on. In fact, in many ways and without realising it I have always felt resistant to the idea that life is over once we hit conventional middle age; which reminds me of another irritation – why do we use the term middle age when none of us knows when we are going to die? I will save my rant for another blog.
For now, going back to the BBC Radio 4 programme, Rewinding the Menopause, I obviously agree with Dr Otkay for a whole host of reasons some of which I have alluded to above and plan to explore in more detail in a later blog. I welcome any advances in medicine that make menopause bearable for women including reversing it. It is not just the ability to give birth that goes with menopause and we run out of eggs, it is the health-preserving benefits of these hormones like avoiding osteoporosis and deterioration of our vital organs as well as the aesthetic ones like the development of dry skin causing wrinkling and loss of muscle tone. I know that I would like to remain fit and strong and maintain a stable healthy weight for the rest of my life.
So far as concerns the specific effects on weight loss are concerned my understanding is that oestrogen holds on to fat which makes it hard to lose weight in peri-menopause and possibly menopause. The shortage of oestrogen makes our bodies become more efficient at converting a lot of what we eat into fat. The shortage of progesterone causes bloating and water retention. In my case, I have noticed that for the first time in my life I have cellulite on my thighs which does not make me feel good in my clothes. I think this is down my lowered levels of progesterone. I can see that my muscle tone is not what it used to be and attribute this also to insufficient testosterone in my body. Lack of muscle tone means inefficient calorie burn overall and a slower metabolism. In addition I have suspected for quite some time that I suffer from insulin resistance which means that although I am eating less than I have ever done in my adult life and usually don’t have any desire to eat large portions of food my body in trying to correct my oestrogen levels by hanging on to every calorie I eat instead of burning all the excess fat in my body. Stress has also been a big factor for me and I keep trying to find ways to lower my stress levels because over the years I think that it is a major reason why my body goes into a panic and hangs on to excess fat leading to the development of the cortisol belt that I mentioned earlier.
In my last blog, I said that if I could give my younger self-weight loss advice it would be to lose any excess weight I was carrying by the age of 35. The more I think about it however, I think that the planning process should start when we face puberty. We should know why our hormones make us have periods, our reproductive years, peri-menopause and menopause. Once again, the fact that menopause is shrouded in mystery does not help. Having knowledge of our bodies as women will enable us to plan our lives in all sorts of important ways alongside preserving our health. In my next blog, I plan to talk about the symptoms of menopause and how some of us might have confusingly similar symptoms as younger women of typical childbearing age and finally what in my view women can do to tip the odds back in our favour today especially in relation to weight loss.
Until next time it’s