Research shows that a woman’s diet profoundly affects her hormonal makeup. But foods that support hormonal health in young women are different from those that help balance hormones in women 50 and older.
That’s why every woman needs to know her hormonal type, says women’s health expert Susan Lark MD. Dr. Lark is the first physician to identify the three distinct hormonal types in women, a discovery that offers new ways to address common conditions associated with hormonal imbalances — including weight gain, PMS, fibroid tumors, low libido, dry wrinkly skin, brittle bones, mental fog, and insomnia.
Dr. Lark explains an easy way to find out which of three hormonal types you are, and offers guidance on foods to choose or avoid, depending on your unique hormonal profile.
Type #1: Estrogen Dominance. This type is usually a woman who is younger and menstruating. She often produces too much estrogen, which has an expansive and growth-stimulating effect on the body, and too little progesterone, which is more contractive and has a growth-limiting effect.
** Common symptoms: PMS, menstrual cramps, irregular menstrual periods, heavy menstrual bleeding, bloating, oily skin and hair, fibroid tumors, endometriosis, and/or mood swings.
Type #2: Estrogen deficiency/fast processor. This type is a woman who is in menopause (see below for symptoms) with too little estrogen. Her brain and body chemistry is imbalanced toward more excitatory chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine that stimulate, speed up, and overheat body processes and chemistry. She tends to show more of a deficiency in chemicals like serotonin, GABA, and taurine, which slow down or inhibit the body’s chemical and physiological processes. This type has too much “speed up” and not enough “slow down.”
** Common symptoms: Anxious, wiry, thin dry skin and tissues, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, sore joints, rheumatoid arthritis, increased risk for heart disease, breast cancer, and osteoporosis.
Type #3: Estrogen deficiency/slow processor. This type is a woman who is also in menopause (see below), but has the opposite body type and temperament. The estrogen deficient/slow processor will often suffer from typical menopausal symptoms. However, because she tends more toward the production of inhibitory chemicals like serotonin, taurine, and GABA that calm and slow down the body, and is deficient in the stimulating and excitatory chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine, she tends to lack energy, sex drive, mental acuity, and zest for life.
** Common symptoms: Excess weight and more difficulty losing weight, fluid retention, thicker bones and connective tissue, thicker skin and hair, placid temperament, lack of energy, low libido, poor mental acuity, lack of zest for life, osteoarthritis, increased risk for breast cancer and heart disease.
Symptoms of menopause. You are likely in menopause if you have 4 or more of the following signs of estrogen deficiency. If so, the next step is to get your hormone levels tested.
- You are 46 or older.
- Last period was 12 months or longer ago.
- Periods are lighter, less frequent, and of shorter duration (late perimenopause).
- Hot flashes.
- Intercourse is painful.
- Desire for sex has faded.
- Difficulty achieving orgasm.
- Frequent vaginal infections.
- Leak urine when you laugh, cough, sneeze, exercise, or wait too long to void.
- Lost your zest for life.
- Difficulty sleeping through the night.
- Frequently tired.
- Anxious and irritable.
- Forget small details.
- Skin is drier, thinner, and more wrinkled.
- Muscles are losing their tone.
- Gaining weight.
- Joints and/or muscles ache.
- Itchy, crawly skin.
- Sometimes feel as if electric shocks were going through your body.
About Dr. Susan Lark
Dr. Lark has penned more than a dozen books, including her new one coauthored with Kimberly Day, Dr. Susan Lark’s Hormone Revolution (Portola Press, www.drlark.com). She pioneered the use of self-care treatments such as diet, nutrition, exercise, and stress management techniques in the field of women’s health, and has lectured extensively throughout the United States. Dr. Lark served on the clinical faculty of Stanford University Medical School and taught in Stanford’s Primary Care Associate Program for many years.