I believe all women can age with ease and grace, even while navigating the crazy hormonal fluctuations we feel in our 40’s. I didn’t “suffer through it” and you don’t have to either! Getting older is a privilege, and not only can it be a positive experience, we can also feel amazing in our aging bodies. The problem I find is that most women feel unprepared and uninformed about the normal hormonal shifts that happen as we move through our 40’s and beyond.
Learning how to optimize your body as you age can help you feel empowered, prepared, and 100% ready for what’s right around the corner.
The first thing a woman might think of when getting older is losing her cycle. This is where the small, but super powerful organ comes into play: the ovaries. Let’s talk about the important role ovarian health plays in aging well.
Aging is a Natural Process
I know, it sounds kinda silly to say, but aging IS a part of life. And it doesn’t have to suck. As women, we experience hormonal shifts that eventually lead to menopause, which really just means you stop cycling every month. And while this is a natural process that every woman goes through, not every woman’s journey there is the same (and most of us don’t talk about it). In this post, we are going to look at the role our ovaries play as we move through perimenopause into menopause.
Ovulation Builds Health
A women’s ovaries are little reproductive powerhouses! As glands, they produce hormones. Most notably estrogen and progesterone, but also testosterone, and they play a key role in the normal development and reproductive function of women.
The ovaries shelter and protect the eggs a woman is born with until they’re ready for use. During the menstrual cycle, each ovary releases one egg, and sometimes more, during ovulation. Inside each ovary is a follicle and inside each follicle is a dormant egg.
The ovaries (and many other organs in the body) are affected by a women’s stress level. They’re actually super sensitive to what the body is going through. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress or even physical stress (like weight loss or over-exercising) your ovaries may stop releasing eggs.
Not ovulating? It’s Not What You Want
In a normal ovulatory cycle, you make estrogen leading up to ovulation, then you make progesterone in the two-week phase after ovulation (the luteal phase). Not ovulating (an anovulatory cycle) prevents us from making the progesterone we need to feel like ourselves. So ovulation is actually super protective for women, helping us build a bank of progesterone that we pull from as we navigate through perimenopause. The lack of progesterone in perimenopause is what causes problems like endometrial thickening, heavy and prolonged bleeding, and uterine polyps. This lack of a luteal phase is often considered estrogen dominance. Every ovulatory cycle that you have leading up to midlife is another opportunity to produce progesterone. This process has lasting health benefits for women as they age, building strong bones, preventing heart disease, and protecting breast health.
Protect Your Cycle
If you’re not having a period, there could be many things going on! It’s important to work with your doctor to better understand what’s happening with your body and why you’re not ovulating. If you think you’re in menopause (or early menopause), you can get your follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels checked. PCOS, thyroid disease, undereating and excessive exercise can cause you to stop ovulating.
Support Ovarian Health
You can support ovarian health with diet, lifestyle, and some targeted supplementation. These aspects all work together to improve your health and vitality like the legs on a stool. Let’s take a look at each of these key areas.
Balance Your Hormones with Diet
A diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins A & C, and selenium can support ovary function and promote ovarian health. Fiber also helps keep your gut microbiota healthy and helps remove excess estrogen and other waste from your body. Cilantro and dandelion greens also help support your body’s natural detox process.
Foods That Support Hormone Balance
- cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
- greens, including red leaf lettuce and arugula
- green and red peppers
- beans and lentils
- sweet potatoes
- winter squash
- almonds and walnuts
- olive oil
- fruits, like blueberries and strawberries
- fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and sardines
Targeted Supplementation for Ovarian Health
Herbs and supplements may be beneficial to enhance fertility, improve ovary function, and boost ovarian health. Targeted supplementation can help correct hormone imbalances and support ovarian function in PCOS and endometriosis.
Chaste tree berry (also known as Vitex) many help to regulate your natural cycle
Black cohosh can stimulate your ovaries and help with menstrual cramps
DHEA helps improve estrogen production
Probiotics help to increase healthy gut bacteria; studies have found that supplementing with probiotics could help with factors associated with PCOS, like insulin sensitivity, inflammation, and intestinal dysbiosis
Zinc plays an important role in egg production and helps regulate hormone levels
Selenium protects the reproductive system from free radical damage and also promotes healthy cell division
DHA and omega-3 fatty acids help regulate hormones and increase cervical mucous, promoting ovulation and increased blood flow to the reproductive organs; also reduces inflammation
Inositol may also help support healthy ovulatory activity, ovarian function, and reproductive system function
I use Pure Encapsulation’s inositol powder because the texture of the powder is so light and fluffy, it’s super easy to incorporate into recipes, like this avocado chocolate pudding with coconut cream. I added the inositol powder to the pudding and also whipped it into the coconut cream. Myo-inositol is the primary form of inositol found in the central nervous system. It plays an important role in cell membrane formation and supports serotonin, norepinephrine, and cholinergic receptor function. Because of this, inositol may support healthy mood, emotional wellness, and behavior, and ease occasional nervous tension.
Reach out to me if you would like help with personalized supplement recommendations.
Avocado Chocolate Pudding with Coconut Cream
For the Chocolate Pudding:
- 2 avocado
- 3 scoops Pure Encapsulations Inositol Powder
- 1/2 cup pitted dates chopped
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
For the Coconut Cream:
- 1 can coconut cream
- 2 Tbsp Pure Encapsulations Inositol Powder
- Add avocado halves, chopped dates, maple syrup and Inositol powder to the food processor and pulse to combine.
- Once well combined, add coconut milk. Blend until the avocado mixture is super smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Then add the cocoa powder and blend again until combined and smooth.
For the coconut cream:
- Add one can of coconut cream with 2 Tbsp Inositol powder to the electric mixer.
- Whip until soft peaks form.
- Serve pudding chilled with a dollop of coconut cream or layer cream in pudding.
Lifestyle Changes to Improve Hormone Balance
Stress is a major player in hormone imbalance! The good news is that there are many things you can do to reduce stress. Stress reduction techniques such as meditation, breathwork, and mindfulness are amazing for keeping you out of “fight or flight.” You can also find many smartphone apps for guided meditations and stress reduction techniques. Supplements that can help with your stress response include Ashwagandha, L-Theanine, Magnesium, Melatonin, Valerian, and Kava. They may also help you sleep better, which is a huge win!
Get Body Balance
It’s the conscious taking care of your body like it’s your very best friend, that keeps it in BALANCE. And creating BODY BALANCE is the secret sauce to feeling empowered about aging – no matter what phase of life you’re in.
This is why I LOVE to educate women on how to feel great in their bodies. We are not victims of our monthly cycle, our hormones, or the symptoms we feel as our body changes.
You have absolute control over:
- how you feel about yourself and your body
- what you eat, how often you eat, how much you eat
- how you respond to the stress in your life
- how often you exercise and move your body
- how much sleep you get, the quality of sleep, and your sleep hygiene
- how your lifestyle affects your health
These are just a few of the topics I discussed in my 2-hour masterclass called Body Balance: Optimize Your body for Your 40’s and Beyond.
Do any of these sound like you?
⭐️ You like being (at least) two steps ahead in life; menopause isn’t on your radar at all, but you want to prepare your body NOW for what’s to come, and understand what’s actually going on behind the scenes. No surprises, please.
⭐️ You need a bit of course correction; you’re currently in peri-menopause, and are dealing with the symptoms (hot flashes, heavy periods, hormone fluctuations, can’t sleep, memory & mood issues, etc.). You need help and you need it NOW!
⭐️ You’re post-menopausal (or very close to it); you feel pretty good, but want to understand what’s coming up next and how you can optimize your body and lifestyle for this exciting, new phase of life!
Here’s what you’ll learn in Body Balance:
- What’s going on in your body before, during, and after perimenopause
- How to align your nervous system with your heart and your desires, not your anxiety
- How to increase metabolic flexibility & heart rate variability for optimal health, weight, energy, and mobility
- Specific practices that support your wellness now, and for your future self
- Which metabolic markers are valuable to know and why
- The impact fasting and “macros” can play in aging well
- Your target carbohydrate intake for optimal metabolic efficiency
- The important role your liver plays in hormone balance and weight loss
You’ll leave the Masterclass feeling empowered and in control of your health, and maybe even a little excited about getting older!