Recently, I had the pleasure of talking to Aviva Romm, a Yale-trained, board certified family physician, midwife, herbalist, and award-winning author. She’s also an international authority on botanical and functional medicine for women and children.
Here’s an excerpt of our conversation.
In the first installment (there was so much information, I couldn’t fit it all into 1 blog post ) … Dr. Romm and I talk about menopause. You may think it only happens to women in their 50s, but you’d be wrong …
Let’s start with menopause itself, from a definitional perspective; what is it? What’s happening in a woman’s body during this phase of her life, and what are the kinds of symptoms that a woman would be experiencing who’s going through menopause?
Menopause technically means you haven’t had a period for one year. Plain and simple. But there are as many as 10 years leading up to that time in life – called perimenopause – where a lot of women start to have symptoms. Those can be things like changes in the length or frequency of your cycles, sleep troubles, or hot flashes during the day, which can be really significant.
There are also hot flashes that happen at night called night sweats, and those can be terribly disruptive to sleep. Some women can have 12 or 15 or even 20 of them throughout the day and night.
Women can also experience changes in comfort and pleasure having sex because of vaginal dryness. Because estrogen and progesterone start to go down, the body tissues change. Some of our tissues get dryer, our mood can change a little bit.
When comfort and pleasure go down, sexual drive starts to go down, and those changes can also increase risk of urinary tract infections. So there’s a broad range of what’s happening.
The decrease in progesterone can also have a tremendous impact on sleep. So there’s a lot going on.
This is like a system-wide shift.
Exactly. And there’s a tremendous amount of psyche transformation. When you hit your mid-forties, you’re just realizing you’re in this middle point in your life. What’s really interesting for women is that when estrogen and progesterone start to go down, it’s not so much that women’s testosterone goes up, but it starts to be the more dominant hormone. Women can start to feel like some of the ambition that they’ve put under the table a little bit while they were raising kids is starting to surface.
I’m finding it myself … things we’ve tolerated in our lives, where we were willing to be a little bit more polite and just accept things, whether that be something going on at work or something going on in the marriage, or just in our lives, now we feel a little bit more comfortable speaking up. That can actually create some dissonance in your life, if suddenly you’re feeling a little bit less polite and a little more straightforward, which is a good thing, and it’s –
Right, and it can change the dynamic across multiple relationships, including husbands –
And what about brain stuff? Some of our customers have mentioned a decrease in clarity and brain function after menopause. Why?
We call it “brain fog” in the functional medicine world. Part of that for women going through menopause is actually the decline in estrogen. The estrogen receptors in our brain help keep us sharp and clear.
Before menopause, women probably notice their mental clarity is a little higher mid-cycle, and a little less as they get toward their periods. Part of that is a drop in estrogen right before and during your periods. It’s not a time when you necessarily want to do higher mathematics.
Similarly, when we get to perimenopause, those changes are happening. It’s also related to changes in our detoxification system and inflammation Chronic inflammation can affect our mental clarity and cause that brain fog.
Also, when there’s blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance, or women aren’t eating as well and not getting adequate protein, or maybe getting too much grain and carbohydrates instead of protein, we’re just really not feeding our brains optimally. The side effect is inflammation. That’s really what’s affecting mental clarity.
And what can we do to think better and even out our moods?
We’ll tackle those questions, and more in the second installment. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
P.S. … over the years, we’ve heard we from many of you suffering from the effects of perimenopause and menopause. So we got our research team on it.
And after a lot of work, we came up with our Menopause Formula No. 1, blending 3 superstar ingredients to address, naturally, many of the hormonal imbalances that occur during menopause.
MFN1 can help you say “so long” to many of menopause’s most vexing symptoms — from hot flashes and mood swings to vaginal dryness. MFN1 also helps protect your cardiovascular system from the big stressors associated with life changes.
Go here to see more. I think you’ll be pleased.
Steve Sisskind, M.D.
Hi, I'm Dr. Steve Sisskind, Chief Medical Officer & Founder at RealDose Nutrition.
As a young physician, I struggled because my patients came to me with serious health issues, but I didn't have the right tools to help them. Medical school taught me how to put "band aids" on their symptoms with drugs and surgery, but not how to address the root causes of their problems.
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