Do you feel tired 24/ 7? Are you so moody that your cocker spaniel is keeping his distance? Is your sex drive in the crapper? Are you carrying extra weight you can’t seem to shed, no matter how much you diet? Does your energy level drag throughout the day? Are you mentally foggy? Do you feel like you’ve lost your mojo and can’t get it back?
If you do, you may be tempted to think that the best part of your life is behind you, that growing older signals gradual and progressive decline, and that you have little control over how you feel. But you are so not alone.
You're not alone
Lanie felt the same way. In her thirties, Lanie was a firecracker who ran marathons, worked twelve hour days, needed no more than six hours of sleep to feel fabulous, enjoyed a rockin’ sex life, and felt at the top of her game. But gradually, things changed. When her alarm clock went off in the morning, she hit the snooze button three times before dragging her butt out of bed. After being promoted at forty to a senior executive position in a thriving business, she found herself unable to work more than 7 hours- and then, only when she could sneak a little nap behind closed doors. Her normally lusty libido vanished, leaving her husband confused and feeling rejected. She gained fifteen pounds over the course of four years, even though her diet and exercise regimen remained the same. She didn’t feel as sharp at work, which affected her job performance, and she feared that she was losing her edge. She thought maybe she was going through premature menopause, but her periods were like clockwork, and she wasn’t having the classic hot flashes and night sweats she associated with menopause.
Lanie saw her primary care doctor, who ran a battery of tests, pronounced them normal, and diagnosed her “well.” She felt like she should have been relieved, but she wasn’t. She was frustrated, disappointed, and feeling hopeless. She showed up in my office, where I ordered a more complete battery of tests which revealed that Lanie’s thyroid gland was underactive, her adrenal glands were pooped out, and her sex hormones were lower than one might expect in a forty-four year old woman. I prescribed compounded thyroid hormone, supplements to support her adrenal glands, and small doses of bio-identical estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. I also invited her to start a practice of journal writing, spend more time cycling, talk to a career counselor, and read a few of my favorite inspirational books.
Six weeks later, Lanie came in for a follow up appointment, and when she saw me, she burst into tears. I asked if she was okay, and she said, “I feel fabulous. I’m just mourning the fact that I’ve been living half a life for years and I wish I had done this four years ago.” Lanie tries to credit me with turning her life around, but I just helped Laurie rediscover the vitality that has been lying within her all along. Because I held up the mirror to show her the gorgeous, vibrant woman she is, Lanie was able to see what she needed to do to reclaim her vitality.
As a gynecologist, it breaks my heart to see how many women suffer this way when we have so many tools to help them. But they don’t teach you many of these tools in medical school. Before I started practicing integrative medicine, I worked my butt off in a busy managed care practice where I was expected to see 40 patients/day. Trained at high powered academic institutions, I was brainwashed to believe what I was taught and didn’t open my mind to alternatives until I ultimately quit my job because I intuitively knew there was more we could do for women than a traditional medical practice was allowing me to offer.
Building the foundation
The doctor who dismissed Lanie because she was “well” could have been me back then. I regret that I didn’t know any better, that many Lanies probably left my office crying and hopeless. What nobody taught me is that, by tweaking thyroid and adrenal hormones to keep them in the higher realm of the normal ranges, and by using low doses of sex hormones, even in younger women whose levels are low, we can optimize the foundation of the body. Doing so builds the foundation by helping women own all the facets of what makes them whole- their creativity, their spirituality, their relationships, their career, their health, their sexuality, their life purpose. By uplifting this foundation, we can help women give birth to themselves anew.
While hormones are only one set of blocks that helped Lanie build the foundation for other changes in her life, they performed a key role in helping Lanie get her mojo back. While she knew she had work to do in her personal and professional life to get back in touch with her verve, she didn’t have the stamina to do so. Balancing her thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones fortified her to dig deeper into other aspects of her life, where real change can happen.
What Hormone Balancing Has to Offer
We tend to think of “hormones” as something you don’t need until after menopause, but the truth is that many women’s hormones start to lag long before periods stop. And for some, just a little bit goes a really long way towards helping her reclaim her vitality.
Did you read about Lanie and hear a little voice inside yelling, “Me! Me! That sounds like me!” Pay attention. That little voice is the voice of your intuition, and it will serve you well to learn to listen.
If you think your hormones might be out of whack, find a doctor who knows how to think outside the box. We’re out there and love nothing more than witnessing the transformation of women who are unfolding from their cocoons, ready to spread their wings and fly.
Dr. Lissa Rankin is an OB/GYN physician, an author, a nationally-represented professional artist, and the founder of Owning Pink, an online community committed to building authentic community and empowering women to get- and keep- their "mojo". Owning Pink is all about owning all the facets of what makes you whole- your health, your sexuality, your spirituality, your creativity, your career, your relationships, the planet, and YOU. Dr. Rankin is currently redefining women’s health at the Owning Pink Center, her practice in Mill Valley, California. She is the author of the forthcoming What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (St. Martin's Press, September 2010).