Today we are talking about one of the most insidious health issues, which are the unseen dangers women face during perimenopause and menopause. There is an immense lack of education for women regarding some of the most important changes they will inevitably experience, and those gaps need to be filled in to empower women on their journey to optimal health during the aging process.
Despite the immense size of the menopause and perimenopause cohort, adequate resources are lacking. In our society, it’s something we rarely ever discuss in any meaningful way. This leaves women to navigate this life stage alone. Creating a sense of community and providing helpful information is the first step in shifting the paradigm around how we treat this part of our lives.
In this episode:
● How our perceptions of menopause are shaped early in life.
● What perimenopause looks like symptomatically.
● When perimenopause can begin during your lifespan.
● How losing progesterone is related to the aging process.
● What are the typical first signs of perimenopause are.
● How weight gain plays into this whole process.
● What progesterone does to our metabolic rate.
● How insulin sensitivity is impacted by progesterone.
● How hormone changes affect anxiety and sleep.
● Why perimenopause is the perfect storm for weight gain.
● What the definition of menopause actually is.
● How long you can expect perimenopause to last.
● Why many doctors will not treat you with hormones.
● The surprising risks associated with birth control pills.
● What you can take to help relieve your symptoms.
● What the research shows about hormone replacement.
● Why you should get treatment as early as possible.
Download on iTunes!
00:00 Karen Ladies, this is episode number 283, but it is the first episode of the Hormone Solution Podcast, which is the new name change. I’m sure you noticed when you hit play or when you got onto your phone and was like, wait a second, this isn’t the other side of weight loss, but yet that’s Karen. Yes, I changed the name, so if you haven’t been following me on Instagram, why not? Get over there, it’s Karen Martell Hormones. But if you haven’t been following me, I decided to change the podcast name. probably over a year ago, and it’s taken me that long to finally do it and come up with the right name. And if you’ve been listening to me for a while, you likely know why I decided to change it. We will still be discussing all things female weight loss, but the core of the podcast for many years now has been centered around hormone health for you women. And I want women who are in search of getting help with their hormones to find me easily and not have to have any question as to what this podcast is going to help them with. Hence, I named it the Hormone Solution Podcast. Now, it still surprises me on a daily basis just how many women do not know anything about their hormones and the impact they have on their health. I truly believe that our hormones have one of the largest impacts on our physical and mental health, which is one of the reasons I’m so passionate about doing this podcast. In today’s show, we are going to go through just the shocking reality of what is happening in our world today. when it comes to women in perimenopause and menopause and the lack of education that is happening. Because I still am always very surprised at just how many women don’t know anything about it. I always start to think like, oh, you know, word’s really getting out there. Women really know about this stuff. I mean, look, I’ve got a really popular podcast. We’ve got over a million downloads. Yay. So word is getting out. But it’s not. Because I cannot believe how many women tell me on a daily basis, either coming into my practice or my group or people that I run into on the street, that will say that they had no idea that what they were going through was due to their hormones. So I am going to be like doubling down on this podcast, ladies, and just bringing you the best of the best information when it comes to women’s health. And of course, it’s not just going to be about hormones.
Like I said, we’ll still be talking about weight loss because that’s a huge, well, that’s our hormones typically causing the weight gain or weight loss resistance. And it’s driven so much by so many of the hormones in our bodies. But there are so many different aspects to our health as we age. And the biggest foundational piece is our hormones. But there’s many, many layers that go on top of that. And I’m going to be diving into it all. So stay tuned, ladies. Now let’s get to today’s first episode. on the Hormone Solution Podcast. Welcome to the Hormone Solution Podcast. I’m Karen Martell, Certified Hormone Specialist and Women’s Weight Loss Expert. Join me each week alongside expert thought leaders and fellow warriors as we navigate the intricate world of hormones, uncover secrets to sustainable weight loss, and rewrite the narrative on women’s health. Ladies, get ready to empower change and embark on a transformative journey as we redefine aging and embrace grace on our terms. Menopause will affect half of humanity because all women will go through menopause at some point in their life. By 2025, more than 1 billion women in the world will be experiencing menopause. There are an estimated 25 million women that pass through menopause in the USA every year. Yet, despite the size of this cohort, our healthcare and societal needs related to menopause and perimenopause have largely been ignored. It’s like this big secret we’re not supposed to talk about. We’ve all had the talk about puberty and pregnancy, but when it comes to menopause, the lead up years known as perimenopause and the post game phase called postmenopause, suddenly all that open conversation, reliable info and community support seem to vanish into thin air. It’s like women are just left to navigate this very significant life stage all on their own. and told it’s natural and in probably other words, but basically to suck it up. It’s a glaring gap in what we know about menopause, a gap. I’m here to address and on.
Too many women are cruising through perimenopause and menopause with no clue about the changes happening inside them. Those rollercoaster hormone levels, anyone? Yeah, they’re kind of a big deal for long-term health, but who’s talking about it besides me? Most women end up totally unprepared for what’s coming their way. The average woman will spend up to half of her life in a menopausal state, perimenopause, menopause, postmenopause. So what are those? Let’s just clarify in case you don’t know. Because nobody, I mean, had somebody asked me when I was in my twenties, what is menopause? I honestly could have said, probably in my early thirties as well, I would have said, I’m going to lose my period. I’m going to have some hot flashes and I’ll become kind of an older woman with no period. And that’s the end of that. And it couldn’t have been farther from the truth for myself. My own experience of perimenopause, which I’ll tell you about, it was not that. And I’m still going through it. But it was so far from that and nowhere, nowhere, Did I see any information about it or being talked about? And I’ve always been kind of ahead of the game when it comes to health and what’s going on out there in the world and nutrition and all of the things. And I was in the health field for the last 30 years of my life. And I never heard about it. My mom never talked about it.
My mom, I saw her having some hot flashes. That was what I just kind of chalked up to be menopause. I didn’t realize that there was a perimenopause. Nobody told me that there was a freaking perimenopause. And I think when you ask most women, you know, are you in perimenopause? They really have no idea. Majority of them, unless, unless they’re starting to miss their periods and they’re having hot flashes and they’re in their late forties, early fifties, then they’ll typically go, yeah, I think I’m in perimenopause right now because I’m experiencing, you know, irregular periods and I’m getting hot flashes. But ladies, perimenopause can begin in your late 30s. Typically it begins in your late 30s. Did you know that? If you’re in your late 30s and you’re listening to this podcast, and you’re probably listening to this podcast because something’s going amiss with your hormones and you don’t know what, I will tell you, it could very well be that you have hit perimenopause.
Because when we’re in our late 30s is when we start to lose our progesterone because we don’t ovulate as often. So we come into this world with a certain amount of eggs and when you ovulate each month, we release one of these eggs and we have a menstrual cycle, et cetera. Well, it’s in ovulation on that mid-month that happens that we release the egg or we are supposed to. during ovulation, but the less eggs you have and our eggs quality also goes down, which affects us, then you will not produce very much progesterone. And progesterone, you’ve heard me talk about lots, counterbalances the growth of estrogen. And growth could be in the uterine lining. It is in the uterine lining, but it’s all over the body. It grows our breasts, our bones. It can be very good for us. We need some growth in our body. So if we have growth that’s unopposed from progesterone, there’s no progesterone to counterbalance that growth, then we start to get the symptoms of estrogen dominance. And these are the first signs, ladies, of perimenopause that typically happen in your later 30s, but can start to happen in your mid 30s, even early 30s. And this is that between 30 and 40 is when we start to hear women say that things are not the same. Typically, the first symptom that they’ll recognize and not be happy about and so everything else it’s like they can ignore and they’ll just put on the back burner like, I’m feeling a little bit more PMS-y every month. Oh, I’m not sleeping as well as I used to.
All of these things, they can, or a little bit more moody. They just chalk off to being life and don’t worry about it and they just suck it up. But what happens that usually catches their attention is weight gain. Weight gain suddenly happens in your 30s somewhere, could be your late 30s, could be mid 30s, and you just suddenly put on a little bit of weight and what you normally do to get that weight off doesn’t seem to work anymore. So things get tougher when it comes to weight loss. It’s like you start to get pudgy and a little bit soft and you start growing yourself a tummy and you’re going, what the heck is going on? And so you work out harder, you go lower carb, you start fasting more. And sometimes it works, sometimes it does not work. For myself, it did not work. And many of us are having children now. It’s very, very common for women to have kids now in their 30s and in their late 30s. So here we are, not ovulating as often, and we can only produce progesterone when we ovulate. We do produce some from our adrenal system, from the spinal cord, but the majority of it is coming from ovulation. So suddenly we’re not ovulating as much. We don’t have this nice buffer of progesterone. Progesterone helps to raise the metabolic rate in the second half of our cycle. So now metabolism isn’t going up for half the month like it usually does. Progesterone helps us to be insulin sensitive in the right amounts. It helps us not to bleed as much during our period. It works as a very calming anti-anxiety, helps us to sleep at nighttime. Without that, now we’re not sleeping as well, which increases our risk of insulin resistance. we’re having a little bit more anxiety and what do women do when they have anxiety and an increase of PMS symptoms? Do we tend to eat better? Do we say no to the sugary treats? I don’t think so, ladies. That’s when it’s tends to be the hardest to control our eating behavior because we have anxiety, we’re not sleeping well, we’re a little bit insulin resistant possibly. We tend to then reach for the carbohydrates, the more sugary treats to soothe ourselves.
And then all of this, it’s like the perfect little storm for weight gain. So that’s typically what we see in the beginning. And perimenopause, ladies, can last up to 10 to 12 years plus. And even those symptoms of perimenopause, the real outward symptoms like the weight gain, the hot flashes, the low libido, those can continue on past into menopause and postmenopause. Actually, I will tell you, menopause, so perimenopause, we’re talking the years leading up to menopause, where menopause is your final menstrual period, which I will define very clearly for you, but it’s the 10 to plus years that lead up to no more menstrual cycle. Okay, so that’s perimenopause. So many of you are likely in perimenopause. Now menopause is actually defined as one day And that’s it, which is really stupid. And there’s no purpose behind it. But one day, and it’s the first day after not having your period for 12 months. And this is really stupid. There’s no rhyme or reason why they decided it was 12 months. So this means that if you get to day 300 and let’s say 55 and you get a period, you are no longer in menopause or considered to be going into menopause in a couple of days because or a week or whatever it is. That is so ridiculous because doctors, you won’t believe how many doctors will not treat you with hormones if you have had any period within one year. There is an online company, a menopause company. I’ve actually spoken with the owner and I have recommended several women to go to them because it’s a very affordable place to get their hormones, their bioidentical hormones. It’s all online, it’s all through a quiz. So you take a quiz and one of the questions is, you know, have you had a menstrual cycle within the last year? And if you answer yes, and so you may have had one period in one year or in six months, and if you did and you mark, yes, I’ve had a period in six months, that system then spits out that you cannot have hormones, you cannot have specifically estrogen. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a dried up vagina and you’re hot flashing. No, no, does not matter. They will recommend, get ready for it ladies, the birth control pill. That’s right. So they will not give you bio-identical, the exact same hormones that your body makes to help relieve your symptoms. they will give you birth control instead. Synthetic, chemicals, nothing. They are not hormones. They are chemicals. They’re actually defined as endocrine disruptors.
Endocrine disruptors. That is what birth control is. So what does that mean? It means hormone disruptor. They’re not hormones. Let’s be really, really clear about that. And there is evidence that shows and proves birth control pills cause leaky gut. They can cause areas of the brain to shrink. They will suppress your own production of hormones. they will increase your risk of breast cancer. Yet, why do you think that these companies aren’t and doctors won’t give a woman estrogen in those years, in those months, sorry, in those months of her not, of leading up to her one day that was then technically that she’s in menopause? because they think it causes breast cancer. When the research shows women that replace their hormones, estrogen included, have a lowered risk of developing breast cancer. And women that are given birth control pills have an increased risk of breast cancer. You see how backwards this information is? How is this that, how in the world Is this still happening in 2023? This is the belief system out there. And this company is very pro-hormone replacement therapy. They’re very pro-supporting women in menopause. This is why they have the entire company. But yet, they recommend birth control pills. It just makes me cringe. It’s really sad. So menopause ladies is technically the first day without having a period in 12 months and then everything after that time is considered post menopause. I just call it menopause, so should you, we need to change this dialogue and we need to get rid of this 12 month thing. I would rather say like, if you haven’t had your period for six months, you know, let’s just say you’re in menopause. Even if you get one period in a year, come on, you can still think of yourself in menopause and you still deserve to get treatment.
And if we could catch women in their very menopausal years, so as they’re starting to lose their hormones, if we can get on top of this, they will have a much, much easier time when they hit menopause. And those years, those 10 plus years that can be brutal for some women, If we can start replacing their lost hormones then and supporting them then, they will feel so much better in that they won’t have a decade plus of suffering for some women. We’re gonna change that. We are changing that ladies. Three out of four women experience menopausal symptoms that interfere with their daily lives. So that’s almost 100% of women will experience menopausal symptoms. 10% of women will stop working because their symptoms are debilitating. One in four will suffer with severe menopausal symptoms. Based on a survey of 2000 women, ages 46 to 60 in the UK found that nine in 10 women going through menopausal transition experienced mental health problems. One in 10 experienced thoughts of suicide. More than a third of them said they hadn’t sought help for their symptoms. Eight out of 10 said they didn’t discuss their mental health issues with their partner or spouse. The CDC reports that among females, the highest rates of suicide are among those ages 45 to 64. Here’s a couple of comments. These are real comments, ladies. The first one is actually from a client of mine, a recent client of mine. She says, hi, Karen. I went in for my blood work and had the worst doctor experience that I’ve ever had. I was told hormone testing was a hoax. You were taking advantage of tired women. I should become a vegetarian and that will solve my weight loss issue.
Lastly, he asked me to watch a 20 minute YouTube video proving you can’t balance hormones. Kim. Now, don’t worry, Kim was not convinced by these doctor’s words. She knew better. She just was like, okay, I guess I need a new doctor. But the fact that a doctor in 2023 would say something like that, is absolutely brutal and he should be given a lot of crap for saying something like that. And I hope that one day, as mean as this sounds, that he loses his testosterone And he’s 40 when it happens, and I hope his penis shrivels up and becomes so dry that he can’t have sex anymore, that he gets fat, becomes extremely depressed and anxiety-ridden. Okay, maybe that’s a little bit mean, you went a little too far. However, if all of that happened to him, which is what’s happening to this woman in the female version of it, Do you think then that he would say these things? That if I said to him, oh, Dr. So-and-so, why don’t you just become a vegetarian? The testosterone laws, that’s a hoax. We can, I mean… There’s no point in even testing you because testing is a hoax. You just need to go vegetarian, you’ll be just fine. There’s no such thing as unbalanced low testosterone levels. So this is on you, buddy. Come on, suck it up. Really ladies, do we think that this doctor would be so rude if this was happening to him, or a fellow gentleman, a fellow gentleman, if he came in overweight, no sex drive, penis drying up, depressed, anxiety ridden, and wants his testosterone tested, do we think that this male doctor would have said the same thing? I don’t think so. Here’s another comment I went on to a menopause support forum and pulled some some actual comments off.
This woman says, can we talk dry vagina? I think that’s what I have. My main symptom is burning and I only feel better when I have no clothes on. My doctor recommended I try Replens, both interior and exterior treatments. I have no idea what Replens is. It’s slightly better, but not gone. Okay, so once again, If this was a man’s problem, that when men turned 40, their penis dried up and the skin on their penis became so thin and very raw, dry, so that they were unable to have sex. Because if they had sex, that very thin, fragile skin on their penis actually had little micro tears in it. Do we think that we would maybe do something a little bit more about this than here let’s just try Replen’s medication? Another one, I don’t have any infections or anything, just this burning sensation. Any advice or similar stories? It’s here all the time for over a week. I’m 46, I still have a period, but I’m about to lose my mind as wearing underwear and pants is a struggle. Who’s helping this woman? Come on, this should not be happening. Another one, I have severe atrophic pain, slicing, burning pain during sex. My one and only symptom of perimenopause for years. And it started when I was 40. 40. Who’s being told at 40 that they’re losing their hormones and that they should maybe start replacing their hormones to get rid of that absolutely horrible symptom. Another woman, my husband of 18 years wants a divorce, I’m heartbroken. I went through a bad depression without my hormones. And he says he can’t take it anymore. Another one, I am 53, I’m in law enforcement. I’ve been married for seven years. My life has been in shambles since this stage of my life has begun a couple of years ago. I was always strong, handling life and everything it throws at me. Now I’m on eight new meds and want to throat punch everyone. That is our actual statement. One more. I feel so un-normal, so unlike myself. I am 53, haven’t had a period for seven months now, and I’m almost a totally different person that I no longer recognize. It seemed to start when I began skipping periods, and then going several months without them. I noticed that my memory became bad. I began to feel disorientated, dizzy, shaky, withdrawn, more depressed than usual, more achy in my muscles and joints. I cry at the drop of a hat.
I literally feel like I have had a nervous breakdown. You guys, these are real. And this was not, this was a, there’s hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of comments like these on these forums. So that tells me women aren’t getting the information. None of them, none of these are, none of these women are getting good information, information that they should be getting from very easily from, from their doctors, from their friends, from their mothers, sisters. It’s a little bit depressing for sure. I read one woman’s statement on that forum who was talking about how it was the worst time that she’s ever felt in her entire life. And I mean, she was like screaming for help on this forum and was like, I’m suffering immensely. And then her last statement, she firmly stated, I’m not on hormones and I refuse to take any. And I just shake my head like, so what garbage has this woman been told? And so she’s having the worst time of her entire life. This could go on for 10 plus years. And she’s playing the whole, I’m not gonna take hormones. I’m gonna get myself through it. Which come on ladies, we have to stop this narrative. not make you tough if you suffer through this time, not one little bit, not asking for help, not looking into all of the options there are. It doesn’t just have to be hormones. There’s so much that you can do to sail through this time and feel your best. Do not be the martyr, please. Okay. Where do you think women, if they do ask for help, if they’re not being a martyr, which We as women, we are murderers for sure. We tend to, you know, not complain. We want to, you know, suck it up and be tough and, you know, don’t want to burden anybody with our woes. But if things get bad enough, which for many, many, many, many women, it does. I mean, there are more than 30 symptoms, outward symptoms of hormonal loss. If you are having symptoms that are bad enough, which we know that most women will experience some range of symptoms, like 95% of us will have some form of menopausal symptoms. And like I said, some of us will have severe menopausal symptoms to the point that it’s suicide. So that’s very scary. Where do we go? Where do women want to go when something like this happens to them? to their doctor, right?
We don’t wanna talk about our vaginas with friends. We don’t wanna be like, oh, hey, so like, are you experiencing this like, you know, total like Sahara desert down there or what? Does it burn and itch so that you can’t sit down, you can’t wear clothes, you can’t wear pants? You know, most of us, I mean, these ladies, those ladies wanted to put it out there on the forum, so good on them. Thankfully they did because hopefully they got some help. But most of us don’t talk about that. In 2017, a Mayo Clinic did a survey to find out what postgraduate residents knew about menopause. So these are graduate doctors that have graduated. What did they What did they learn in med school about menopause? Well, less than 7% were taught minimal about menopause. And there was zero, zero education on perimenopause. So that 10 plus years that can be the absolute worst, worse than menopause, these doctors weren’t educated on it. No doctor was educated on it. It’s not in med school. I actually have heard too that 0% is really taught about menopause too, but we’ll give them the 7%. So we’ll say 0 to 7% will actually be taught something minimal, but they’ll be taught something about menopause, which I’m sure is really just a woman’s going to lose her period. But yet, where do we go? Where do you guys think that most women, where are you going when you have these problems besides to Karen’s podcast for answers? You’ll go to your doctor. And women are bumping into so much resistance from their physicians. I am told stories all day long. about very similar stories like that woman had with her doctor of, well, this is a hoax. I’ve heard horrible, horrible things that doctors have said to women. And typically they’re offered one of three things. They’re gonna be offered a prescription medication for whatever symptom that their menopause is causing. And then most women don’t know that actually that new symptom is because they’re losing their hormones. Instead, they’re just suddenly going, why now am I getting depression when I’ve never had depression in my life before? Or why am I getting anxiety? Or doctor, I’m not sleeping, or I have no sex drive. That one doctors don’t do anything about.
But the other, oh, now you should hear what I’ve heard about that. Like when women actually talk to their doctor about their sex drive and what they’re told to, Oh, well, have you tried like, you know, wearing lingerie for your partner or using, you know, sex toys? Oh, I have honestly I’ve heard that. I want to punch that doctor out. Because I’m sorry, but what woman wants to get sexy in her lingerie? When it burns just to wear a cotton pair of underwear and a pair of pants for some of these women. Yeah, let me go put on my sexy lingerie because I feel so sexy right now. My dry vagina. Anyways. This is what we tend to do, though. We tend to go to the doctors and we are given a couple of options. We’re given a medication for the symptoms, so that could be an antidepressant. Many, many, many women are on antidepressants and have gone on antidepressants in their perimenopausal years. Now, of course, I’m not saying that all depression or anxiety is from hormonal loss. It can be from many different things. So please don’t take that as like, Karen said, but it can certainly affect our mental state. And we’re going to talk a lot about that on this podcast in the next Little while I’ve got somebody actually coming on in the fall to talk about mental health and menopause and perimenopause and how our hormones affect our brain. So stay tuned for that. But our hormones very much so affect our brain and our mood and our mental state. As we start to lose progesterone, as I said, we can get more anxiety. As we lose our estrogen, we can get more depressed because estrogen is actually needed for the creation, for the production of serotonin in the body. Also dopamine, there’s many relationships with our neurotransmitters. It absolutely can affect our mental state. So you will be given a medication, maybe you’ll be given a sleeping pill. There is medication for hot flashes. So some women are offered medication for hot flashes. They can be offered things for the dry vagina and atrophy. And some doctors actually, that’s one thing that I’ll see them sometimes give is It’s a suppository for estrogen to be used a couple of times a week in the vagina to help with vagina atrophy. So some women get that, not all, but some will. The other very common prescriptions that are given, especially in the perimenopausal years, because doctors really will not even consider bioidentical hormones, like I said, until a woman is actually in menopause without hormones anymore. So in perimenopausal years, some of the first symptoms is heavy bleeding because we have that unopposed estrogen. So when we have unopposed estrogen, we can have heavier menstrual cycles. Women can start to bleed every couple of weeks rather than every 28 days. And so they feel like they’re bleeding out and they literally are. So they’ll go to their doctor and they’ll be given the option at that point of A Mirena IUD, very, very, very common. I just had somebody in the group asked me about this yesterday like, oh, hey, Karen, what do you think of the Mirena IUD? I’ve been on it for 16 years. Oh, that is fake progesterone, progestin. It’s great, because it just gets rid of the period altogether. So if you’re bleeding out, that’s very welcoming.
It’s like, oh, yeah, I’ll take that. But there are consequences, so please know that. It is fake progesterone, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, and it will suppress your own hormone production. which we want our hormones, they’re the most important thing, remember? So you’ll be offered IUD or some other form of birth control pill, you’ll be offered maybe an ablation, so that’s when they cauterize the inside of your uterus to stop the bleeding, or they will offer you a hysterectomy. which a hysterectomy is the second most common female surgery being given out or being performed, I should say, in the United States and in Canada. Number one being a C-section, which is a whole nother problem. So those are your options when it’s your body typically telling you that your hormones are becoming out of balance. And yes, I’ve heard actually a lot of professionals say there’s no such thing as out of balance hormones. I can see why they say that because our hormones change and they fluctuate dramatically throughout just a 30-day month, right? In the month, we cycle immensely. We have days of very low estrogen, high estrogen, low progesterone, high progesterone, testosterone. These hormones are going up and down. So in their eyes, it’s like, how could you possibly balance quotation marks, balance these hormones when they’re never in balance. But in my eyes, there is a balance to them. Now it might not be like a 50-50 ratio of balancing, no, but we know that if progesterone is low or non-existent and estrogen is still in normal levels, that balance between the two is off. And that causes a lot of problems. So we can essentially balance out these hormones to some degree where they’re at least in the ratios that they should be in and there’s no like very specific like there’s a lot of talk about like the progesterone estrogen ratios to each other because it fluctuates so much throughout the month. That’s a very hard thing to determine. And it’s really about symptoms because we really don’t know even what’s happening on a cellular level. There’s a lot of things that can block your estrogen receptors, your progesterone receptors, xenoestrogens can block them. So it could look like you have plenty of estrogen and progesterone, but you’re not getting them. There’s things that can affect how these hormones are working inside the body. So it could look like you have okay levels. but for you that they’re not okay.
And so it’s really about symptoms and how you’re feeling that we go, okay, it seems to me because of what you’re going through, that the balance between these hormones is off for you. And so if you’re getting the symptoms of low progesterone, well then we want to do things that will help to improve your progesterone levels. Or we will start replacing that progesterone so that we can counterbalance that estrogen that’s still kicking around and balance things out a little bit for you so you feel better. And that looks different for everybody. And it can be on the numbers, but mostly it’s about the symptoms that you’re experiencing. that we should be going on because some women will start to lose their hormones and not notice it at all. They’ll sail through menopause without… I’ve had women, they’ll be like, oh yeah, I’ve had like one hot flash. I never even, I just suddenly lost my period and I’m in menopause now. I’m like, oh my gosh, how is that even possible? But like I said, 95% will experience some range of menopausal symptoms, whether they realize it or not. So if you’re not getting outward symptoms of hot flashes, low libido, things like that, the insomnia, the weight gain, just because you’re not experiencing those physical symptoms that are very noticeable, they affect your day-to-day living. that doesn’t mean that some things aren’t happening on the inside because of the loss of hormones. I can’t tell you how many women in menopause who never had cholesterol issues prior, their cholesterol goes up in menopause. And so they may not have these outward hot flashes, but their cholesterol goes up, their blood sugar goes up. Because hormones, like we have estrogen and progesterone receptors on all of our organs, we have them in our brain, so we don’t see some of the stuff that could be happening. Gut health, gut health is really affected by estrogen and progesterone. Brain health, heart health, all of these things are greatly affected as we start to lose these very vital hormones. So 84% of women can get hot flashes and 77% night sweats. That’s a lot.
That’s majority of us. More than two-thirds did not know that urinary tract infections could be caused by menopausal symptoms. And yet 82% of women will have an increased risk of getting urinary tract infections, so UTIs. I hear that one a lot where people say, I never had problems with this before, now suddenly I’m having bladder infections. 75% will get heart palpitations. Heart palpitations. Women go into the ER all the time in perimenopause because they suddenly get heart palpitations and don’t understand what the heck is going on. That can be from the loss of estrogen. It can affect your heart. Pain during intercourse, 66%. 63% body aches, so our joints can get really sore. And you know, people, of course, that one is if we’re gonna go to the doctor for that, we’ll just say, that’s old age. That’s, oh, I’m getting older, everything’s starting to hurt now. 58% will get headaches and migraines, 58% anxiety, 56% depression. So over half of us will get depressed and have anxiety. 58% will have memory issues. And these are the ones that are, you know, how they come up with these stats. These are the people that they just, you know, that they’ve studied. There hasn’t been a ton of research done on perimenopause and menopause. And then a lot of the research is kind of poor. The WHI study being one of them, that one kind of ruined it all for us ladies. And if you haven’t heard about the WHI, and you think that you know, bioidentical hormones are going to kill you. That’s where you’re getting that from, whether you know it or not, is the WHI study, the Women’s Health Initiative that happened in the late 1990s to 2002. That was one of the largest studies of its kind. Over 600,000 women were in that study. And the results of this study, I won’t get into this too much, because I’ve talked about it before, but the results of that study were completely misconstrued. There has been several, several people who have now reanalyzed the results of that study and have come out to say that what was told was wrong, that the study produced, you know, They basically, okay, so I’ll very quickly tell you about it. At that time, majority of women were on Premrin or Prempro, which is synthetic or it’s not synthetic, it’s natural, but pregnant horse’s urine, estrogen, that’s Premrin.
And then they were also on the fake progestins, which is a fake progesterone. majority of women in North America were on hormone replacement therapy of that kind. So the Premarin was the number one most prescribed medication in North America for many, many, many years, which means the majority of women were on hormone replacement therapy. they actually set out to prove the benefits of HRT in the Women’s Health Initiative. So they have all of these women, one arm of the study, they had women that had a hysterectomy. So they just put those women on the Premrin, which is the horses only estrogen. And then the other half they had on, or the other portion, they also had somebody, a group of people that had a group of women on nothing, but then they also had women just that were taking the Prempro, which is the combination of Premrin with progestin. Okay, so the study began and as the years went on, they suddenly realized that in 2002, that researchers found that women taking the combination of estrogen, horse’s estrogen and progesterone, progestin, had an increased risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, stroke, and blood clots. Well, you can imagine, headlines blasted the news that hormone therapy was unsafe and the use of hormone therapy in the United States at that time then plummeted by about 80%. So doctors took all of their women off of it. So suddenly all these women started to suffer, was the number one most prescribed medication to majority of women were not given any HRT anymore. And we are still, still getting affected by this 20 years later. The truth of the WHI, well, the women they found, because it was so hard to find women, that weren’t on any HRT, that the majority of women that they did find in the study were over the age of 60, so past 10 years post-menopause. They tended to be unhealthy. They were smokers, a lot of them, and a lot of them were overweight. So they weren’t healthy. What they found was women who started hormone therapy in early menopause tended to live longer than women who didn’t take any of the hormones.
What they found was the women in the premarin-only arm of the study, Breast cancer localized to breasts was reduced by 31% and ductal breast cancer was reduced by 29%. So let’s hear that again. Women that were taking horse’s estrogen, this was not even bio-identical and it was taken orally, had a reduction in breast cancer. And 31% sounds like a lot, so it was 29%. When you actually looked at it in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a ton less, but it was something like 4% of the study. Women compared to the group that didn’t have any hormones, it was 4% more or something like that. But still, it was an improvement. There was less breast cancer in the arm of the study that took estrogen compared to the arms of the study that either we’re on progestin or we’re on nothing. And we know that now from other studies as well, that it can reduce the risk of breast cancer, which is shocking. Now, that’s not to say that it can’t cause breast cancer though. What we know is if you’ve got breast cancer cells, in your breast because estrogen, especially estrone, one of your stronger estrogens, it just acts on what’s called the alpha receptor, which is more proliferative. And so estrone is very proliferative estrogen. Estradiol is still stronger, but estrone is primarily gonna sit on what’s called the alpha receptor, which is a proliferative, So it’s going to cause proliferation, basically. So if you’ve got breast cancer cells, it can cause that to proliferate, which is not good. Now, what else did they find? They found that there was an increased risk of heart attack and stroke when these women were past their 10 years post-menopause. This is because the premrin is swallowed. Estrogen should never be swallowed, even if it’s bioidentical, ladies, because when you swallow estrogen, it does increase your risk of heart attack and stroke and blood clots. We never wanna take it orally. And so if you’re on a trochee, if you’re on a pill, talk to your doctor about switching to transdermal, please, because it’s safer. There is no increased risk of blood clots and stroke when you take estrogen transdermally, estradiol transdermally, okay? So please keep that in mind. So there was an increased risk, a very small increased risk post 10 years post menopause in heart attack and stroke because they were swallowing the Premarin and the Progestin too. It did cause inflammation as well and increased their risk of heart attack and stroke. The arm of the study that took the Premarin and the Progestin, had an increased risk of breast cancer in that arm of the study, which is why they stopped the study. There was a very minimal, it was like one extra woman in every 1,000 got breast cancer in that arm of the study, but there was still an increase. So what does that tell us? If the premarin-only arm of the study had a reduction in breast cancer, yet the progestin arm of the study had an increased risk. What does that tell us, ladies? It tells us that it’s the progestin that caused the increased risk of breast cancer. And what is progestin? Where is progestin? It’s in your IUD, it’s in your birth control pills that you’re handing out like candy to teenage girls and young women saying, Oh, birth control pills. Here you go to women that have had a period, even just one in the last year of their life. They’re still given progestin because the doctor thinks that it’s safer than taking natural bioinertical progesterone. Hmm. Thinks that there’s something maybe wrong with that, ladies. 25 year study, almost 1000 women in Washington, the women on estrogen without any progestins had no increased risk of breast cancer. Scandinavia, 30,000 women were followed for 11 years.
Women on natural estrogen alone, so bioidentical estrogen alone, just estradiol, saw no increased risk of getting breast cancer. The French mission study followed almost 7,000 women for 8.3 years. It compared breast cancer incidents in women on HRT versus those who never used it. The HRT was used used was natural estrogen, either alone or with natural progesterone, there was no increased risk of breast cancer. The E3N study, the French E3N cohort study, over 80,000 women When women were on, the group of women that were on estradiol plus progesterone had no increased risk of breast cancer. No increased risk of breast cancer. That’s pretty big. Another study that I’m just going to throw out there that I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about. A new study in 2021 from the University of Arizona Health Sciences with over 4,000 women found that women who use transdermal estradiol therapy for six years or greater were 79% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s and 77% less likely to develop any neurodegenerative disease. Yet, ladies, are we being told this information? A pooled statistical analysis, so they took all of this research, all these studies, 30 clinical trials, and they found that women who began hormone therapy before age 60 had a 39% lower risk of death than women who didn’t take hormones. Wow, that’s a lot. 39% are you kidding me? And yet we’re being told like, we’re putting the fear of God is being put into us about taking hormones and that this isn’t right. And our doctors are telling us this is a hoax and that this is going to kill you and it’s going to give you breast cancer. I mean, this is what is the majority of what’s being told out there and what’s being said, especially by the medical community. So we have to change this narrative. We got to change it for ourselves and we have to change it for the women that are coming up behind us, our daughters, our granddaughters. We need to change this for them. We need to start talking about it. We need to start finding solutions about it, which is what we’re going to be doing here. so that you can sail through this time without suffering, without having to be a murder and saying, I’m gonna do this. I’m gonna get myself through this without taking hormones. As such, so that you’re gonna, you think you’re gonna get this little badge of honor. You’re not, you are not, not for me anyways. Ladies, you got to go and you got to get the help that you need. And I’m not saying hormones are for everybody, because they’re not. There’s some women that it’s not a good fit for. But there’s still other things that you could be doing that’s natural that you that could really help with these symptoms. And I mean, really help. And we have to do all the basic stuff. I think you guys all know that. We talk about all of the other things here on this podcast in the 283 episodes. I give you a ton of information on how to eat and how to exercise and all of the things that you should be doing to optimize your health and your hormones. So there’s lots that you can be doing. And there is no excuse to be suffering through this time. When I hit my early 30s, this is, you know, it all began there for me. And nobody told me at that time that it could be my hormones. And I was suffering, I wasn’t sleeping.
And I mean, I really truly was not sleeping. I couldn’t, every single night I would lie awake until three o’clock, four o’clock in the morning. And then I’d sleep, fall asleep for a few hours and then wake up to caretake my daughter, who was a toddler at the time. I was a single mom running my own business. I was rapidly gaining weight, I was depressed, I was having migraine headaches for over a week long before my period, horrible PMS, horrible stomach problems. And what did I do? I exercised harder and ate less. Because that’s what we’re told. And still to this day, that’s what we’re being told. And that’s what women think. Even though there is a lot of information on podcasts now and blogs that are saying like, hey, it’s not just calories in, calories out. There’s more to it than that. Yet, what do we do when we gain weight? We work, we decide, well, we better work out hard, we’re gonna double down. Okay, I better start fasting, I better go low carb, which all of these things, we do want to exercise. Fasting is a good thing for some of us. Not to say that these aren’t good and beneficial, but sometimes you cannot, And there will become a point where you can’t diet or fast or meditate your way out of hormonal loss. It doesn’t fix it. And I really want to get that through everybody’s heads because Women still think, like I said, that those are the answers to these problems. And these are the foundational things that have to happen. You do have to eat well, you have to exercise, prioritize your protein, watch your stress, sleep well, et cetera. But there will be a point where supplements, exercise, and diet aren’t going to be enough. And I don’t want you to blame yourself for that, number one. I want you to know that hormonal loss looks different for each and every one of us. When I went through it, I was suffering so much. I was 33 years old. And I had a really forward thinking doctor who, you know, still she put me on an antidepressant, gave me a prescription sleeping pill that I was addicted to for over 10 years, Ambien. Obviously these things didn’t fix my problems. I only continued to get more overweight, have more health problems. And I just kept trying to exercise my way out of it until finally I clued into it on my own and said, I think this is hormonal. I think there’s something going on with my hormones and I need to have somebody properly test my hormones. which is not a hoax. And so I did. I had somebody, my naturopath, properly test my hormones and I had no progesterone. I had very, very low progesterone levels, which I had always had. I had endometriosis, ovarian cysts, heavy periods. I knew already that I was low in progesterone because of that history. My doctor, I remember, put me on natural bioidentical progesterone after they discovered that I was riddled with endometriosis. And then I went off of it. And then I had my baby. And all of these health problems arose. And when I had my hormones tested, they discovered I was very low in progesterone. Happened with my second child seven years later, where I just could not lose the weight after having him. And then I got my hormones tested, saw once again that progesterone was rock bottom. and replace the progesterone.
And voila, Karen lost weight, felt better, all of the symptoms disappeared. But that took me to figure this out. Because nobody is going to tell a 33-year-old, hey, this is your hormones. Yeah, right. So I had to figure that out on my own and it took a very holistic approach. It wasn’t an overnight fix that first round. No, no, no. I had to change. I had to find the right diet. I had to get emotional help because there was a lot of deep seated emotional garbage that I was not dealing with that were contributing to my health problems. That took years. of healing and getting to the bottom of a lot of trauma that had happened to me as a child and in my adult life. So this was not like an overnight, oh, so fast and easy, just put on a little progesterone. Not that first round. It took a lot. And it’s what propelled me to do what I do today. Because I knew that there had to be other women out there that we’re doing everything right, you know, quote, unmarked, right, eating right, exercising, doing what they’re being told to do. And yet we’re still gaining weight and still not feeling well and having all of these symptoms. And the same thing happens in menopause and perimenopause, you guys. And it happened to me again in my early forties where I hit menopause Oh, her menopause hit me like a ton of bricks. And I thought, oh, I’ve been 10 years paleo. I, you know, I’m watching my hormones, I’m watching my stress levels, I’m exercising, I’m doing everything right. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. I’m not gonna have hormonal problems. Yeah, right. Now if somebody had told me back in my 30s or 20s, like what menopause was gonna be like, holy, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. But hot flashes, night sweats, rapid weight gain, all of the things that weren’t supposed to happen to me because I’m a nutritionist and I don’t drink and I don’t smoke and I eat really healthy. I don’t have any sugar addiction. It still happened to me and it can still happen to you. It happens to majority of us. The majority of us will have symptoms of perimenopause and menopause. So what do you do about it? Number one, do something. That’s the first thing. Do something, don’t be a martyr. And I know I keep saying that, but I can’t believe how many women are like that woman on that forum. I refuse, like she’s wearing a badge of honor. I refuse to take hormones. Well, what good is that doing for your health? When we know that 39 will have a 39% lower risk of death than women who don’t take hormones. So do something, get help, keep listening to my podcast. And you don’t have to get help through me. There is places out there that are truly helping women now. You know, you want to avoid, some of those places. There’s some that are just there for strictly money making purposes, which I, you know what, I’m a businesswoman and I know that every business needs to make money in order to be successful. So I’m not dissing anybody for wanting to make money. That’s great. We need to make money in order to have businesses. So to help people. But they’re not trained, a lot of these people, in actual women’s hormones and what they can do to help with their hormones. And I’ve just heard really bad stories of some of these clinics that maybe they’re just doing pellets, and they don’t look at the woman’s estrogen, and they just give them loads of testosterone. And I just cringe at that, you guys, because a lot of these people are not educated or they’re giving high amounts of estriol, which we’re really trying to change the narrative on that one too, which is a whole nother podcast. But women should be given the option of hormones in perimenopause if that is what they choose to do. If it is a matter of strict hormonal loss and that those ovaries are heading on out,
And you’ve done it all, you’ve done the supplements and the lifestyle and the diet, and you’ve wrung out every last bit of your natural hormones out of those ovaries that you can get, which can happen at all different times. For me, it was 42 and it was like my hormones were like, yeah, we’re done. My ovaries were like, see ya, Karen, we are finished. And I, very few doctors would have, 99% of doctors would never have put me on hormone replacement therapy. And I was lucky enough to have a great naturopath to work with me who still is working with me. And I have great doctors that work with me too. I’ve got a whole team of people. I practice what I preach. I don’t, you know, I have these people supporting me and I see doctors, I see a naturopath, I have my hormone doctor, Dr. Todd. who listened to me and give me what my body needs. And I’ve been now for five years, been doing really, really well with my hormones. I’ve been on estrogen therapy. I’ve been on testosterone therapy on and off. I’ve been on progesterone this whole time. And I have reversed all of those nasty symptoms. I feel great. I feel like I look better now than I did in my early forties. There is things that you can do. So ask for help, find a good place that is going to support you and help you with your symptoms now, even if you still are having a period, that they’re still willing to give you some help. And they’re not just gonna say, oh, here’s your testosterone pellets, see ya. And you start growing whiskers and your voice starts changing because you have these high doses of testosterone. Now don’t get me wrong, many women feel great on pellets. I’m not completely dissing them. I just find that there’s a lot of testosterone clinics that… they’re not taking into consideration the other hormones that a woman’s losing in her perimenopausal years. So look for a good practitioner. I have a whole episode actually on how to find yourself a good hormone doctor or nurse practitioner or coach that can help you. And I go through all of the things that you’re going to be looking out for. I will link to that in the show notes, that podcast episode. The other thing is, know that there’s help even if you don’t have a lot of money. I think a lot of women get very stuck on collecting information where they can because it’s free. So they go from podcast to podcast, blogs to blog.
They’ll just go to their doctor because their doctor is free. It’s covered by their insurance or they’re in Canada and they have free medical. And they’re not getting the help though. And know that I just want all of you to know there is very affordable help to be had when it comes to hormones. So if you’re in the United States, even if you’re in Canada, there’s some over the counter options. There’s great companies that make like progesterone and there’s ones that make, you know, biased. There’s not too many that make estradiol, but maybe there will be soon. I’m actually looking into making my own line of hormone creams that will be sold over the counter so that if you can’t afford to go see a doctor, a hormone doctor or coach, then you can still get the help that you need. So there’s options. Know that there’s options at all price points. You may need to, obviously, do your own homework and know what’s going to be best for you. We’ve got, of course, I’ll pump myself up here, ladies, but we’ve got great group coaching programs. You can check out my OnTrack program. It’s been going for six years. We’ve had thousands and thousands of women that have gone through it. Very affordable. And so if that’s all you can do, then that’s a great first step and you’re going to get lots and lots of help and direction in that group. So there is that, but there’s lots of other things too. There’s good books, there’s good podcasts, there’s good blogs, there’s, you know, you can go out there and collect that information and apply it to yourself and get some help. Just most important thing is don’t sit around complaining and posting on menopause forums of all these problems that you’re having and not doing anything about it. All right, get the help, know that you can feel better. You don’t need to put up with any of these nasty little symptoms and you can feel your best. This can be the best half of your life because there’s many, many amazing things that come with it. You know, we are more ourselves I find than any other time. If we’re optimizing our hormones or at least, you know, supporting our bodies during this transition, we can feel the best ever. We can feel more who we are than ever before.
We can be wiser and more vibrant and we can feel and look our best if you ask me. Aging can be an amazing thing. So don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. No doctor. Nobody. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. There is always things that you can do. All right, ladies, take control of your health first and foremost. Okay. I think that’s it. My first episode of the Hormone Solution Podcast. and my 283rd podcast episode. I hope you enjoyed it and I look forward to what’s coming down the pipeline. I’ve got some great speakers coming your way for the next, you know, until the end of 2023. I think I’ve got all of my interviews lined up. We’ve got some people coming to talk about brain health and menopause. I’ve got somebody coming to talk about melatonin, which is, I’m very excited about somebody to come talk about Sex hormone binding globulin, which has not been talked about here on this podcast, which is very important. We’ve got somebody, an expert on Hashimoto’s. Anyways, lots and lots coming down the pipeline. All right, ladies, thank you for tuning in. Have a great day wherever you are in the world, and I will see you next time, next week, same place. Bye-bye. Before we sign off, ladies, remember this journey is just beginning. If you’re excited to dive deeper into the world of hormones, weight loss, and embracing your power, hop over to KarenMartell.com. discover how you can join me on this incredible ride and level up your wellness game and don’t forget to stay connected follow me on instagram and facebook at karen martell hormones for daily inspiration and insights until next time ladies have a great day wherever you are in the world