The Hormone Shift
The Five Key Hormone Shifts
Here begins the hormone manifesto that offers information every young girl and woman should understand: how their hormones shift and how to bring them back into balance. So, yes, you can pass this information on to women of all ages: your daughter, mother, sisters, and friends. This is our story, and it’s the language we should all be speaking to support, empower, and lead one another across these hormone bridges. This is how we all come together.
Every woman experiences hormonal shifts and disruptions during her lifetime, but the sympathetic nods and offers of help these women got during the roller-coaster years of their puberty seem to disappear with each passing decade, even as the shifts continue to occur. From puberty into early adulthood, to pregnancy and motherhood, and then to perimenopause and menopause, universally there is minimal conversation concerning hormones and hormone shifts, leading women of every age on an endless hunt for answers to “mystery” symptoms and diseases.
What many of these women don’t realize is that their hormone journey actually began when they were in their teens and twenties. That’s when a foundation of hormone understanding should have been built. Instead, young women are given Band-Aids to manage the shifts (birth control pills, etc.), rather than beginning an exploration into their health. And the result is that more and more young women have hormone-based conditions, including PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), endometriosis, and infertility; fibroids and fibrocystic breast cysts; and many different autoimmune diseases. These conditions are all triggered during a hormone shift. Indeed, this time is the roller-coaster ride that returns for many women decades later, as they enter perimenopause. All of it is there: the anxiety, the crash in self-esteem, even the eating disorders that had been buried—resurfacing as the hormones fluctuate.The Medical Gaslighting by Mainstream Women’s Health
Because these shifts in hormones are poorly understood by mainstream medicine, women have been gaslighted concerning their health, and their hormone symptoms continue to get dismissed in the conversations about their health.
When I graduated from medical school in 1997 and started doing my rotations, the medical field was still a boys’ club, to the point of being intimidating. Not only was medicine dominated by male physicians until recently, but the training of medical doctors had limited focus on women’s health and hormones. I learned only the basics during my obstetrics/gynecology rotation, and a tiny bit more in the endocrinology rotation (although that delved more into illnesses like diabetes and adrenal disorders). Women and their hormones were viewed in a sort of singular fashion—for either reproduction or their libido—not as a whole-body issue. Have babies and have sex. The END.
So, I’m not angry with any specific doctor, but I am angered by a system that gaslights its patients, spreads the same-old you’re fine mantra, and keeps women trapped in thinking that we are just getting old or that the problem is all in our heads.The New Normal
Here is the story the majority of my patients describe: They knew something was off, so they went to their primary physician and had lots of blood work done, only to be told their results were “normal.” That, really, they were just understandably stressed or anxious or depressed, so they most likely just need an anti-anxiety or anti-depression medication. Or, something for sleep. And something for focus. And something else for weight loss. And yes, there are some side effects, but don’t worry about that for now. Because you’re fine.
That is the “normal” way hormonal symptoms are treated. Women leave their medical visits feeling hopeless, resigned to accepting all their bizarre and unpredictable symptoms. Well, I’m here to tell you that “normal” is not good enough. Historically, “normal” has meant being free of disease; it does not mean feeling optimal or vital or vibrant.
My EastWest holistic approach gets rid of the one-size-fits-all ideology and instead stresses the importance of personal body chemistry and body map. This is the “new normal” that we should all be fighting for. No more bearing the stigma of the “menopausal” or “hormonal” woman, and no more feelings of shame and dread about your hormones and hormone shifts. Women today are demanding and fighting for answers. They are shedding the tired baggage, cleansing it from their psyche, and stepping up to assume their authentic power.
The EastWest approach works with our hormones—not against them—to establish balance in all aspects of our bodies—mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, and energetic. But if, instead, you give in to the historic shame and guilt of that gaslighting, know that you are saying no to gifts that await you and power that is rightly yours. This is not your mother’s menopause. “Normal” and “fine” do not cut it anymore, and your life story is just beginning, not ending.
What the f*** is happening?
This is a question I hear every day. Women today, at every age, are busy. They are juggling jobs, multitasking, getting lots of things done. And then something changes. They go from super-sharp to foggy, from energetic to tired, or from happy to sad. The hormone shifts that women experience can catch them by surprise, and they can leave them feeling, well, not like themselves anymore.
The hormone journey is one of hormone shifts—except we just don’t talk about it. But knowledge is power. Knowing what’s happening takes away the fear of the unknown; it arms a woman with the tools to move forward. Understanding the hormone shifts that happen at certain points in a woman’s life—whether young girl, teen, young adult, mother, or grandmother—prepares her for what she will need to feel her best. We don’t drive cars without some instruction or start careers without some training or education, right? Then why would our bodies be any different? Part of that preparation is not just recognizing the hormone shifts but also understanding what those hormones are and how they play together.
If you are reading this book, you may think you are too young or too old to have a hormone imbalance. You may have been conditioned into believing that life is being in a state of what I call Hormone Hell, that PMS (premenstrual syndrome), abdominal pain, hot flashes, brain fog, or disrupted sleep—to name just a few symptoms—is completely normal.
The journey our hormones make mirrors the phases of our lives as women. Think back to your teen years. Do you remember the highs and lows, the extreme emotions, the new physical symptoms you had to get used to? You most likely nod your head, remembering with empathy that teen version of yourself, when you were flooded with hormones that made you boy crazy, moody, and volatile with your parents (and even your friends). This was your first hormone shift. And if it threw you off balance then, why are you surprised when you are thrown off balance in perimenopause? That’s your third hormone shift.
Do you ignore the shift? You can try, but your body will not let you. Instead of nudging you into the role of your lifetime, you are stuck in a walk-on part or even on the sidelines. And you feel trapped. That’s because you don’t feel good. You don’t feel like yourself. And that is not what’s meant for you to be.
Yet hormone shifts are a natural part of every woman’s story—it’s a story that we should know by heart. Indeed, these shifts are nothing new or novel, though women today remain in the dark about them, as are their doctors. You may have been in perimenopause years before any symptoms showed up, or you may have resigned yourself to the unpleasant mood swings, hot flashes, or other symptoms—without ever realizing you don’t have to suffer from them.
I am passionate that women understand their hormones. It’s a conversation that applies to all women and girls, from the age of thirteen on up. So, I identify here the five key hormone shifts that all women should all be aware of.