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How to Repair Your Hormones and Your Period

In this episode, we're joined by Dr. Lara Briden - a world-renowned hormone expert. She's here to share her expertise on how to repair your hormones and your period.

Dr. Lara Briden is a naturopathic doctor and author of the bestselling books Period Repair Manual and Hormone Repair Manual. She has more than 20 years of experience in women's health and currently has consulting rooms in Christchurch, New Zealand, where she treats women with PCOS, PMS, endometriosis, perimenopause, and many other hormones and period-related health problems.

Whether you're struggling with PMS, menopause, or any other hormonal issue, this episode is a must-listen! Dr. Briden shares her top tips for balancing your hormones naturally, as well as what to do if you're dealing with a more serious hormone issue.

If you're ready to get your hormones back on track, tune in now! You won't regret it.

You'll learn:

- How to repair your hormones and your period naturally

- What to do if you're struggling with a hormone issue

- The top tips for balancing your hormones naturally

- How to get your hormones back on track

- Types of treatments might be offered to women in traditional and modern medicine and naturopathic medicine

So what are you waiting for? Press play and join us on this exciting episode of the Hormone Prescription Podcast!

[01:14] She has a very kind of global evolutionary view of hormonal function, which really matches mine. So I love talking to her. She's a big thinker, and she likes to help women to understand what their hormones mean on a bigger picture than just every day, regulating their period and, uh, producing reproduction.

[02:15] We met recently when we did the event with Dr. Cabeca and I have looked at your beautiful book, hormone repair manual, which I love, and you have some unique concepts that I know everybody's gonna really appreciate hearing about.

[03:12] I came to just discover that women's bodies and women's hormones respond so well to nutritional interventions, even more so than I had been taught to expect when I went through naturopathic college. So out of that, well, some of my first work was in Canada.

[04:38] And you call Perimenopause the second puberty.

[04:58] If you're 41, 42, 43, you are in the territory of perimenopausal second puberty, and it's the, our hormones winding down, although as we'll talk about they don't do so in a, you know, quiet quietly kind of way.

[05:56] Very off the early phases of per menopause is actually high levels of estrogen spiking up to three times higher than we had in our twenties and thirties. And that's that kind of high estrogen exposure combined with low progesterone.

[07:09] When you say primarily neurological, what kinds of things would women be experiencing?

[07:19] Other neurological symptoms include sleep disturbance. That's a big one in our forties for some women and migraines.

[08:38] And that kind of lack of stress tolerance and stress resilience I find is so subtle and so pervasive. And that we, women, tend to blame ourselves. It's almost like the price that men go through where they kind of lose their edge, but we go through it usually a decade or even more, but ahead of time.

[09:16] So there's a lot going on, and it's understandable that you might think I've just, I'm doing too much and that's, that's a factor, but there is also this hormonal factor and this brain rewiring factor.

[10:04] Can you talk a little bit about what types of treatments might be offered to women in a traditional medical practice for this time of life or these symptoms we've just talked about and why that might be a good idea or a bad idea?

[10:32] So, you know, the conventional approach is just to shut that down. I would argue, and I know you and I are on the same page about a lot of things like this is not the time to be shutting down the ovaries.

[11:17] You're including bone health and brain because our female hormones are quite beneficial for lots of different systems. And so, yeah, I would say there's a lot more to do acknowledging that sometimes symptoms can, can seem quite strong or be, be quite strong.

[12:24] And so that could be a nice treatment, especially in the earlier phases of perimenopause when there's still quite a lot of estrogen, but very little progesterone that in fact, that the fact that we lose progesterone before we lose estrogen, is where a lot of the symptoms early symptoms come from.

[12:55] So can you talk about how vital these menstrual cycles are for us to create this reserve? Because once we stop cycling, yeah. We don't have it anymore. So what are we building up?

[13:34] Estrogen is also this, we're talking about estradiol now, which is our main estrogen that the ovaries make. It's also very good for the cardiovascular system. It's excellent for the brain.

[14:39] Estradiol is anabolic and helps to build muscle. So these are all, you know, strong benefits and there's evidence, several lines of evidence that con the contraceptive, you know, the estrogen and the contraceptive drugs in the pill does not have the same benefits. And then there's the progesterone that we've just talked about.

[15:32] And then, and actually losing progesterone, as I mentioned, is one of the reasons the neurological symptom's startup in our early forties, but the other couple benefits of real progesterone for general health is that it modulates immune functions so can help to reduce the risk of autoimmune disease.

[16:34] 35 to 40 years of menstrual cycles is important, not just for making a baby, but also to help to reduce the risk of dementia, cardio, heart disease, diabetes, and breast cancer and osteoporosis sorry, and breast cancer.

[17:45] And the concept that a man only needs, uh, testosterone for reproduction, nobody would buy that. No, but I really feel like as women, we are reduced in our reproductive capacity when it comes to our hormones and, you know, really that's how I was taught in medical school and residency. It's like, we're just little men.

[19:12] And actually we know from some of the research that, that deposit, the pregnancy hormone deposit into the bank account of long term health is also very good. I think you get a big dose of estrogen and progesterone with pregnancy.

[19:52] I'm envisioning, you know, it's like getting an inheritance from your ancestors only it's your kids. So don't see your kids never, ever, never give you anything. Yeah. They gave you the opportunity to build hormonal reserves.

[10:09] I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about that you have in the book, the meaning of menopause through an evolutionary lens, which probably everybody, most people listening haven't heard.

[20:22] So, you know, I've been looking at health and biology through the lens of evolution for a long time and researching the book and reading about this aspect of menopause was quite meaningful for me, both kind of intellectually, but also personally, because I'm now I'm about to, I think I have graduated to menopause.

[21:12] And part of that from me is the meaning through an evolutionary lens, which just means the most, a lot of there's several lines of evidence to suggest that menopause is not new menopause is not an accident of living too long that our ancestors should they be lucky enough to survive childhood and young adults, hood and childbirth and all the hazards that our ancestors faced, should they be lucky enough to survive all those things?

[22:07] And I just love this, that a longer human lifespan may have evolved or been selected for because of how advantageous or beneficial post reproductive women were to their groups, to their family groups.

[23:05] We tend to think of our shift in metabolism with menopause as a, you know, a bad thing that creates weight gain. But I do also like to reframe it for our ancestors, that would've been a good thing that we could get away with fewer calories potentially.

[23:51] And yes, we also have, we have accumulated wisdom, but we also have this emotional equanimity, and we have gifts that we need to give.

[24:28] it obviously works from a survival standpoint to, in certain, you know, species to have older females around and just, this is where I sort of mean by the meaning of menopause, you know, it's um, yeah, it's important. It's been important for humans

[25:13] Perimenopause can be so hellacious that by the time it's over, you're like, please just stop. That was me just stop. But I went through that phase kind of before I knew what I knew.

[25:50] So it's important that women don't fear unnecessarily at the same time. It's not your, you know, if you do encounter symptoms, it doesn't mean you've done something wrong necessarily. Like there's a lot of variability, both genetically and for different reasons of who experiences were symptoms versus not so bad.

[26:36] You know, once you get true into your potentially, you know, mid fifties and beyond, there's still a few things to keep track of with your health, but overall things should be a lot more stable.

{27:26] I think this is a critical window for health. It's also a window of opportunity to do something about that and feel better.

[28:05] What are some of your favorite actions to help your patients at that time so that they really can protect their brain?

[28:13] We'll just let's list it in quick, like just obvious things like moving your body, cuz actually movement and building muscle is really good for the brain, which seems a little counterintuitive, but the research is very solid on that. I talk about magnesium, which is a simple supplement, but the brain loves it.

[29:03] Estrogen supports the brain in lots of different ways. I think women can get a, can survive that drop in estrogen if they don't have insulin resistance or if their brain is healthy in other ways.

[29:55] There's been some new research that one of, one of the proposed mechanisms that estrogen is good for the brain. And I'm sure it's just one of many, but one is that estrogen helps.

{31:36] Like there could be a problem with insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome even years before blood sugar blood glucose goes high into the diabetes range. So there's different ways to test it.

[33:05] I mean screening tests, fasting glucose and fasting insulin. If they're elevated, then you kind of know, you know, and the A1C, but if not, you can do the tolerance test just like when you are pregnant.

[33:43] But it also, as we've been talking about, impacts the brain. It has a big risk factor for cardiovascular risk, even to some extent for breast cancer and osteoporosis, like all the risks, all the things that we're worried about. And it's common as you, I don't know if you said this statistic already, but for people over 40 or 50, especially like this is about one and two people, probably about one and two of your listeners or like definitely have insulin resistance.

[34:30] And also as you know, like a lot of environmental toxins increase risk of insulin resistance. So there are things working against us, especially for anyone with a genetic predisposition.

[35:22] Would've been actually a superpower for those women because they could have, they had a, they were like lean. They didn't, you know, they could just sort of survive on less basically cuz they, we had have a, you know, reduced requirement for calories with menopause, arguably.

[36:12] My first step is satiety. So this often involves pro well not often. This is about protein. Protein is our primary appetite from a biology perspective.

[37:06] So actually what happens is our appetite is geared such that we will keep eating until we get enough amino acids that day, every single day and, and the body is so full of protein that it doesn't care.

[37:56] I mean a hundred calories snack, snack bags, you know, they'll be like only a hundred calories in this bag, but your body will not be satisfied.

[38:17] So step one for my patients is to reach that protein requirement. It's a lot higher for people than they realize. I think especially women tend to under protein, maybe not always, but also this is a cruel irony, but insulin resistance increases the requirement for proteins.

[39:08] Like wait until your stomach acid kicks in. Like you're actually hungry, which I think for a healthy person is going to be around nine or 10:00 AM.

[40:28] Magnesium actually just helps with sugar cravings. It just makes you feel good, satisfied. And then you can easily just say, no, I'm not going to have that dessert.

[41:36] women always, we always feel like we have to explain ourselves, you know, but men might be like, I don't want that. I'm not going to have that. I, I don't have, you know, no reason given it's like, I'm not going to eat that. It's like just, you know, be like that, just don't explain yourself.

[42:13] hormone replacement therapy and you were touching on the fact that it can actually increase insulin resistance.

[42:36] So estradiol, especially, I mean, I would say estrogen therapy helps to improve insulin resistance and weight loss. Like was very little doubt about that in my mind. I know some bizarrely, somehow estrogen gets blamed for weight gain or well, okay. It depends on what we're talking about.

[43:31] Obviously testosterone has many benefits for women. We do have some, when we're in our reproductive years, we get this really intriguing little boost up in testosterone just before ovulation that some of these sports people are studying, because women get this surge in kind of confidence and performance around that time.

[44:30] The argument is, you know, with P C O S, which comes first, the insulin resistance or the high androgens, the research actually suggests high androgens come first, generally with that condition.

[45:29] But what happens is when estradiol and progesterone drop away, we lose out on the beneficial antiandrogen effect of those two hormones. So the androgens, the testosterone shines through and that is potentially contributing to insulin resistance.

[46:21] I just, you know, the data says that 50% of women in menopause are deficient and testosterone, but I'd say in the women I work with, it's more like 90%, and it's just so vital for brain function.

[46:50] but I'm just curious for myself, what dose of testosterone might you prescribe? Like, just for example, like just for someone who I guess it

[47:01] Depends on a transdermal, it depends on what they're we test don't guess of course, yes.

[47:07] So at the hormone club, which is our telemedicine solution for women in 47 states in the US to get, uh, by identical hormone therapy, we test, right. So we do the Dutch test, the dried urine metabolite test and see where their levels are.

[47:42] how closely do you look at S H B or sex hormone binding globulin, because this is another, and this is just a, a background thing. It's on a blood test. It's actually quite important. I think for women in general, to have that in a good range, it tends to drop at menopause.

[48:25] So it is important to know that because then your free fraction will be higher, kind of one of know what you're, what you're dealing with.

[48:40] I'm one wondering if you can share with everyone just some of your daily practices that help you to keep your hormones balanced and your health in tiptop shape.

[48:59] And then I guess the other things for health are like, we didn't talk a lot about it today, but just quit alcohol basically or seriously think about quitting it or reducing it dramatically, even though it's nice. It's lovely to have a beer with dinner. That would be my preference, but it's not worth it. Especially during the tumultuous rewiring phase of per menopause.

[50:12] I know you have a free download of the first two chapters of the period repair manual and hormone repair manual, both. And we will have the link in the show notes.

Free download to the first two chapters of Period Repair Manual and Hormone Repair Manual by Dr. Lara Briden:


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