How many times have you chalked up weight gain, loss of libido, and memory lapses to getting older? If you’re like most people entering the second half of life—probably too often. But sometimes symptoms we dismiss as a fact of aging actually have different (and treatable!) causes.
Here are five common problems that women often ignore but that can be solved successfully once their root cause is determined and taken care of:
1. Foggy brain and memory issues.
It’s happened to most of us at one point or another: We forget what we're talking about midway through a sentence or pay the same bill twice. But foggy brain and memory lapse aren’t just the exclusive territory of seniors; I’ve seen it in young patients and middle-aged ones as well. Often, the thyroid—one of the body’s most important organs—is to blame. Your doctor can perform a simple blood test to find out if your thyroid is underperforming and, if necessary, prescribe bioidentical (naturally derived) hormones to restore balance. Birth control pills, which suppress the production of certain hormones in the body and often cause symptoms of menopause, can also cause foggy brain and memory issues. This is just one of many reasons that I encourage pill users to switch to a nonhormonal method of birth control.
2. Chronic fatigue.
Overwhelming fatigue is another common and complex problem I see in my practice. It stems from many different causes, and one of the major sources is adrenal deficiency. I’ve devoted a full chapter of my new book, Radiant Again & Forever, to the story of Antonia, a patient who came to me with fatigue so crushing she could barely get out of bed in the morning. At only 42, her blood work showed extremely low levels of all four adrenal hormones. So together, we developed a blueprint for helping her regain her energy, one that involved quality sleep, a better diet, and bioidentical natural hormones. There are also several other sources of debilitating fatigue that are not necessarily age-related. Among them are toxicity from heavy metals, gut issues, mold exposure, physical and emotional trauma, Lyme disease, and Epstein-Barr syndrome. The take-away? Don’t sit back and accept being tired all the time. Together with your doctor, you can get back to your best.
3. Weight gain.
As we get older, it seems harder—if not impossible—to lose or maintain our weight despite healthy eating habits and regular exercise. It can be really frustrating but a lot of the time can't be blamed solely on a metabolism slowing with age. The good news is you can lose weight if you and your doctor identify and address the real causes of the problem. These can stem from hormonal imbalances, low thyroid, high blood sugar and insulin resistance, stress and adrenal fatigue, digestive problems such as intestinal parasites, yeast, or leaky gut, food intolerances and allergies, toxic exposure to metals such as mercury and lead, and even the use of antidepressants. It’s time to stop feeling helpless when it comes to your weight.
4. Loss of sex drive.
In my practice, I see so many women (of all ages) who are suffering from loss of libido. Many of these patients are naturally curious about flibanserin, or Addyi—the little pink pill that received FDA approval last year. But I encourage them to look beyond quick fixes like this. Instead, if we take the time to identify the root causes of low or absent libido, we find that nature and science offer solutions that don’t involve drugs or chemicals. Your doctor can help you get your appetite for sex back naturally. It all starts with blood analysis to determine your hormone levels, and find out if you may be in perimenopause. The right mix of bioidentical hormones and supplements will restore that balance naturally. With this approach, instead of taking a drug that may not even be effective, you are activating the body’s own healing mechanisms. Next, we examine mechanical reasons for poor orgasms and offer you natural ways to improve vaginal muscle tone. And of course, it is important for us to consider the state of your union itself. Finally, we look at natural alternatives to medications such as birth control pills or antidepressants that might be suppressing your sex drive.
As a hormone specialist, I know that when body chemistry is out of balance, depression is common. But depression can also be related to poor diet, toxicity, digestive health, and other lifestyle factors. Deborah, another subject featured in Radiant Again & Forever, is a textbook example of the complexity of depression and its root causes. Her depression began after childbirth. During her pregnancy, Deborah’s thyroid hormone had become depleted, and after giving birth, her estrogen levels plummeted as well. Unfortunately, the antidepressants she took did not treat these fundamental causes of her depression. Instead, she became exhausted, gained weight, and lost her libido, which only compounded the situation. Her consumption of diet sodas was also a problem. And perhaps most importantly, she felt aimless and needed to find a new purpose for her life. One by one, we addressed these issues, helping Deborah "clean house" by rebalancing her hormones and removing toxicity from her diet. She also began therapy and enrolled in some mentoring programs.
Deborah’s story and the others in my book offer powerful evidence that working together, doctors and patients can pinpoint and address the real reasons for symptoms that should never be accepted as a fact of life. Aging is inevitable, but what it looks and feels like is up to us. I want your second half of life to be the best.
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Prudence Hall is a traditional medical practitioner turned pioneer of regenerative and integrated medicine and founder of The Hall Center in Santa Monica, California. Her practice is focused exclusively on regenerative medicine, looking into the root causes of conditions and diseases rather than simply treating symptoms. She strives to help clients achieve optimal health and actively prevent disease without the use of pharmaceutical drugs when appropriate. She is also the author of Radiant Again & Forever, available now.