KCL - Suzanne Somers' 'I'm too Young for This' is a natural approach to permimenopause
Suzanne Somers: 'I'm Too Young For This'
A passionate proponent of women's health, the outspoken actress has a new book to help perimenopausal women.
By Laurie Sue Brockway
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The first time I heard Suzanne Somers talk about menopause was on the Larry King Show on CNN around the time her book came out in 2006. As someone so emblazoned in our minds as the young, nubile Chrissy on Three's Company, and as the beauty behind the marketing sensation Thighmaster, she seemed brave to go on TV and talk about her own menopausal experience of feeling itchy, icky, grumpy, and kind of dried up.
She shared with Larry that she was using non-traditional solutions that worked for her personally, and soon she began to extol the virtues of maintaining health and sex drive with the help of bioidentical hormones. These are hormones that are identical in molecular structure to the hormones women make in their bodies and different from traditional pharmaceuticals because they are synthesized from a plant chemical.
Critics may argue she is not a doctor and does not have the authority to speak about women’s health, but Somers has done extensive research and has written many health books. She often discusses these medical topics in media with a physician on hand, and includes medical views in her books. Fans say she has been instrumental in introducing alternative solutions for menopausal distress, and that she has used her celebrity to help women.
In her new book, , she discussed the ways perimenopause sneaks up on women in their thirties and forties. And she acknowledges that it can begin to infiltrate your life when you being feeling cranky, fatigued, fuzzy-minded, and as if you are riding a roller coaster of emotions — up and down and all around.
While much medical care focuses on the menopausal years, there is often a stretch of time – a decade and more -- between the first twinges of hormonal imbalances and the cessation of menstruation. Anyone who has been there, or is there, knows that this time of life can take a toll. When Somers went through perimenopause she says she went from doctor to doctor seeking relief, and was told the discomforts would pass with time. They offered her antidepressants and anxiety medications, but she wanted answers because she felt she was falling apart.
“I first became aware of perimenopause in my late thirties to early forties,” said Somers. “My moods changed, my sleeping patterns changed, I just couldn’t sleep. I started gaining weight and I didn’t know why, I had a terrible itch on my leg and many other symptoms. I didn’t know at that time that these symptoms were a language, the language of my body talking to me, telling me it was needing something."
Her message is clear: There is a new way to age, and young women have an opportunity to catch the decline before it takes a toll on their bodies. We spoke to Somers about the concepts shared in her new book and her health message to women of all ages.
Everyday Health: Perimenopause seems to sneak up on women and they seem shocked that it is a prelude to menopause that is causing so many issues.
Suzanne Somers: Perimenopause sneaks up on women because we are uneducated about our bodies. Our doctors are not up on hormonal changes in the female body. They think it’s a temporary passage but nothing could be further from the truth. Once a woman or man begins declining in hormones it never stops, so replacement is in essence filling the tank for the rest of your life, as determined by lab work and your individual needs.
EH: How does this time of a woman’s life impact her emotionally?
Somers: Perimenopause can impact a woman's life seriously. Her emotions spin out of control. It's not her fault. It's that her chemicals are no longer in balance. The human body is comprised of chemicals, little messengers that interact with one another telling the different organs and glands what to do. When this ceases to happen or happens intermittently, the woman becomes very emotional. Many marriages break up over hormonal imbalance, which is truly sad because it comes from a lack of understanding. When hormones are put back in balance with natural bioidentical hormones, a woman or man resumes their normal life of feeling good and having days filled with quality.
EH:Can you share about the minor hormones women should be aware of – how they function or malfunction and make us feel crappy?
Somers: The minor hormones are estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and others. When these sex hormones decline, a woman in particular can no longer "feel" sex because she has no sex hormones. Loss of minor hormones deteriorates bones so you experience bone loss. Replacing the minor hormones estrogen and progesterone builds bones. The loss of minor hormones also weakens muscles, including the heart muscle, coupled with a general overall feeling that life is not worth living. The result is depression among many other problems.
EH: And what about the major hormones, how they function, and what needs to happen for them to be in balance?
Somers: The major hormones are crucial to life. They are: cortisol and other adrenal hormones, insulin, and thyroid hormones. When the minor hormones -- estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone -- decline, it makes the major hormones rise. The result is high cortisol, which can set you up for a heart attack and a thyroid that is not working properly, which creates havoc in your body. The loss of minor hormones creates high insulin, so now you will gain weight even if you’re not eating and you're exercising. Burnt-out adrenals create fatigue and many, many bodily problems. The only way to rectify loss of major and minor hormones that are out of balance is to find a qualified doctor who can set you up with proper blood testing to determine your exact needs.
EH: What are the keys to women feeling better, naturally, during perimenopause – diet, exercise, spiritual fulfillment?
Somers: Eating properly helps immensely. By eating right, and I mean real food, not food sprayed with chemicals and pesticides. Exercise tells your cells that you are alive. All bodies need oxygenation. But never underestimate the power of your thoughts. Thoughts can determine your happiness, your balance, your connection with nature, and all of this works in concert with good diet, exercise, and having love in your life.
EH: Can you explain what bio-identical hormones are, how you take them, and how they have worked for you?
Somers: Bioidentical hormones are biologically identical to the human hormone, an exact replica of what our bodies make or made. They are prescribed by your doctor, as determined by your blood work, and individualized exactly for your specific needs and deficiencies. Your doctor will explain exactly how you take them depending on your needs. Perhaps you only require replacing progesterone at first, or if your depletion is more advanced, you take them in a cycling fashion or a rhythm. Each woman is unique.
EH: Bioidentical hormones are more popular now but still relatively unknown. Is the cost prohibitive? Or are not enough doctors prescribing them, in your opinion?
Somers: Cost varies but it is my experience that bioidentical hormones are extremely reasonable. Personally, my hormones cost under 0 a month. There are a lot of things I would give up before I would give up spending my money on my valuable hormones. It is important that you get your bioidentical hormones from a qualified doctor.
EH: How are they different from regular hormones? Do they go against the established hormone industry?
Somers: They are different in that they are not synthetic. The molecular structure has not been altered. They are not patented because they come from nature. Bioidentical hormones are made from plant extracts and synthesized into an exact replica of what your body makes. With pharmaceutical-grade synthetics, there is no resemblance to anything ever made in a woman's body.
For instance, the most popular women’s synthetic hormone is Premarin, which is made from pregnant mares’ urine. A horse has 34 different estrogens, none of which are compatible with a woman's body. Why would you put something into your body that has been proven to be dangerous, according to the Women’s Health Initiative 2002 [LINK TO THIS], when you could put in an exact replica of what your body once made or still is making in small amounts?
EH:When should someone begin to treat perimenopause? Should they begin before the symptoms are too unbearable?
Somers: The reason I wrote I’m Too Young for This! is to spare young women the suffering of hormonal loss -- and it is true suffering. You can't sleep, you gain weight for no reason, you bloat for no reason, your moods are altered, and your sex drive is diminished. This book is the most comprehensive book on perimenopause available. All you need to know is between these pages.
EH: What is the most important lesson for women during this life-stage?
Somers: That this passage is a natural facet of a woman's evolution. Embrace it. If you understand how to treat it, perimenopause can become the most enjoyable passage of your life.
EH: You are such a passionate advocate for women’s health. How did this role end up falling to you?
Somers: Just lucky, I guess! I experienced three years of suffering from hormonal loss, and when I finally discovered the true natural non-drug answer, I wanted to use my louder voice to pass on this knowledge so all women can benefit. This is my gift to the next generation.
EH: Do you have any special message for women?
Somers: Women need to embrace each passage of their evolution. Aging is inevitable. You can’t fight it. Aging is about worn-out parts, but if you understand how to replace and tweak and put back what is missing, you can live a long, extended life of quality and joy never before available to women.
Video: Suzanne Somers: The natural hormone solution to enjoy perimenopause
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