By Jane Wake
It's a saying that we have learnt to use flippantly but the consequences of these drivers of our bodies go far beyond our daily hor-moans! The body is amazing, and so complex and I find the endocrine system one of the most amazing but also THE most complex of all! Just some knowledge and understanding however can go a long way to improving, not only our health but very importantly our confidence as we journey through life. One of my biggest learnings from my years of working with women is that we are so caught up in where we are right now, that it's hard to see the bigger picture. Yet there are so many reasons to understand more of exactly what our hormones are doing across our entire life span. My 11 year old daughter amazed me recently with her understanding of hormones, "Women mainly produce Estrogen but they also need Testosterone and are able to convert Estrogen into Testosterone". She announced! However I doubt if their discussions in school went much beyond their role in reproduction, and certainly not how Estrogen and Testosterone and other hormones like Progesterone affect our bodies in other ways AND, even more crucially, what happens when these hormones drop out.
The topic of Menopause is currently huge. The recent documentary, presented by Davina McCall highlighted how little the menopause is understood, even by medical professionals. But it's not just the menopause. There are so many misconceptions about many aspects of women's health, which is one of the biggest reasons why I started my journey to try and learn as much as I could when I first became pregnant in 2003.
There was (and still is) very little research on how hormones & movement affect our bodies when pregnant. There was/is however a little more research on Menopausal women, mainly because it's easier to do research where hormones are controlled, such as with HRT. In pregnancy there are huge variables making it harder to assess. There is something to learn in this however and also why listening to our own bodies, at all life stages, is so important. There is also some really interesting research on athletes and the affects of hormones through our monthly cycle. When you consider that these hormone levels multiply 10 fold and more when we are pregnant, this should be ringing alarm bells for any fit pro's working with pregnant women.
What's also alarming is that when our hormones drop there are even greater consequences and again, research during the menopause can part way give some understanding of what happens to us at other points in our life. One little considered fact by many professionals is that post birth our reproductive hormones suddenly drop - this has huge consequences. Like in the menopause, When Estrogen is in deficit post birth, our bodies lack the protein synthesis to build muscle and maintain strong bones. Does this have implications on women training post birth? You bet it does!
When I speak to women, whatever life stage there are in, there is this huge regret that they never knew what was going to happen to them NOW. I'm hearing the 'No Body Told Me' phrase within the women's health field a lot - this is not right and we seriously need to fix this.
It's why, within my work, I have decided not to focus on just one stage in a woman's life. Yes I am now post menopausal - something I discovered recently! But I'm not about to shift gear and focus purely on that and this is why...Women learn from Women, not just from their own age group but from across all ages. Culturally, the oldest women in a tribe would have been the woman we'd learn most from. That knowledge being passed down to all generations below her so that all women could understand and grow as strong as her, like she did from all the women that came before her. And science is saying the same thing - we can learn more by looking at the bigger picture and I find this fascinating.
In our current climate we have so lost this, and if we are to truly give ourselves, and our woman of tomorrow the power and strength they deserve, we need to arm ourselves up with as much information as we can.
On Monday 28th June, 8pm. I'll be doing a workshop on The Female Hormone Journey. - where we will discuss what happens from pre-puberty all the way up to post-menopause. I'd love you to join me! And if you can't join me live don't worry, you can watch it later, plus, once you've purchased it, it's yours to keep for life. You can book the Workshop here.