If you’re between the ages of 35 and 55, you may be going through something that very few women talk about – Perimenopause. The name is fairly new so your mother and grandmother likely never even used the term. As women age and near the end of their fertile years, our bodies produce less estrogen. This is a normal process just like our menstrual cycle and the ups and downs of hormones including estrogen, testosterone and progesterone are completely normal. With the menstrual cycle, we know that some women experience more extreme symptoms than others. Often, we just grin and bear it but could these symptoms be minimized or fixed? The answer is yes!
Now if you ask your doctor, he or she will have a very predictable answer – synthetic hormones. You may have heard of someone or maybe you were put on birth control pills just to regulate your period or to calm down your hormonal acne. Solutions like this have side effects that you definitely don’t want and those side effects may worsen as you age. If you’re having trouble losing weight and experience bloating and loss of libido, consider trying an alternative to the birth control pill.
Women also need to be wary of their environment and the products we use every day. Many products contain hormone disrupting chemicals that tilt our delicate endocrine systems into a state of imbalance. Every day products like cosmetics, foods, containers, cups, cleaners, soaps, lotions and countless others work against us creating an unhealthy overload of chemicals.
Here are a few steps you can take to limit your exposure.
The term fragrance is used on many products but did you know that it’s actually a mixture of chemicals? The chemical stew called fragrance is designed to create a lasting scent but also can be allergenic, irritating and disruptive to the endocrine system. Most companies don’t disclose the actual ingredients in fragrance claiming that it’s a trade secret. Therefore a label may not report dangerous chemicals but they could be hiding behind the term fragrance.
Wash hands often but avoid antibacterial soaps
Most of us grew up believing that antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers would keep the germs at bay and in turn make us healthy. It turns out that triclosan, the chemical used in these products posed serious threats to our health and the environment. The chemical is a hormone disruptor that interferes with reproductive function including puberty, sperm quality and fertility. It has also been linked to obesity and cancer. Using simple water and regular soap has been found to be more effective and safer.
Flame retardant chemicals have been identified as hormone disruptors and linked to cancer. The same chemicals are also used in common household products – electronics, couches, baby products, etc. They collect in your household dust. Good grief!!!
Most people can’t afford to replace their furniture and everything else in their home. So the best and easier way to manage this problem is to dust and vacuum. Consider a vacuum with a HEPA filter to trap small particles of dust instead of blowing them to other locations in your house.
Chemicals in products inevitably get into our water. Invest in a water filtration system to further limit exposure. Keep in mind that it’s not just the water that you drink but what you bathe and wash your clothes in.
Say NO to plastics and cans
You have probably seen plastic bottles that are BPA Free. BPA is a known hormone disruptor used in plastic cups. We are literally ingesting something that harms us. This is particularly harmful to pregnant women, young children and babies affecting the development of the reproductive system and the brain. Replace plastics with glass and avoid canned goods. Even if a product is labelled BPA free doesn’t mean it’s free of other harmful chemicals with a similar effect.
Beware of cosmetics, lotions & shampoos
Every day make-up contains chemicals with known dangers. The average woman applies 300 chemicals to her body daily. Many are applied before breakfast. Avoid parabens and phthalates that are commonly used and are known to cause cancer and harm the reproductive system.
Cleaning products even those that are labelled as eco-friendly or green still contain harmful chemicals. Those labels are effective marketing. You must read labels or check websites and apps like Environmental Working Group (EWG) for
Use products that are plant based and contain ingredients known to clean but pose no health risk. Products like Thieves cleaner are perfect examples of effective cleaning without chemicals.
What else should I do?
We’re starting a Perimenopause/Toxic Free Living support group on Facebook. Join us!