The Ever Changing Female Body

May 11, 2017 by Briana McDonald, Natural Health Staff Writer (Silver Bulletin e-News Magazine) As we embody the aging process and understand that some things are in our control while other things are not so much, we can begin to see ourselves as shape shifters and co-creators. My spirit stays the same, I am the same but this form I inhabit is changing by the day. While there are always very productive things we can do to combat the aging process, ie; consume antioxidants, drink water, sleep well, etc. this process going to take place regardless. We are going to notice shifts in our bodies, things that were not present in our youth that now begin to surface. After having one child I was able to lose the baby weight very quickly and get back into a healthy fitness routine, but after my second child my body takes a little longer to respond to exercise than it used to. It is not much of a difference, but one I notice nonetheless. The ever changing female body is a beautiful thing and I believe the more we know and understand about what’s happening internally, biochemically, and emotionally, we can be better prepared to take care of ourselves the best way that we deserve.

Female Bodies

Hormones
 
Thirsty, hungry, happy, horny, sleepy– many of the physiological and psychological sensations we feel each day begin as drips of hormones sending signals to our brains. Our entire existence on this planet is a delicate and intricate dance of chemicals. Hormones are produced by our endocrine system, a collection of organs and glands located all over the body. The pituitary gland, the tiniest of glands located in our brains the size of a pea is the “master gland” of the system and orchestrates the function of many of the other glands in the body. Behind this master gland is the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that maintains the body’s internal balance between all systems which we know as homeostasis. This gland produces hormones and electrical impulses that are sending signals to the pituitary gland like traffic police, telling which hormones to produce and when.
A few of the Hormones the pituitary gland produces:
  • HGH- human growth hormone; this hormone rises during childhood to help produce bone and cartilage growth, peaks at puberty and starts to dip after middle age
  • FSH- folicle-stimulating hormone; this hormone stimulates the ovaries to release eggs for ovulation, during menopause the production of FSH increases. It is this hormone that doctors test the presence of to determine if you are indeed going through menopause
  • TSH- thyroid stimulating hormone;regulates your thyroid, a gland in the nexck involved in regulating your metabolism, body temperature, muscle strength and heartbeat *It’s important to note that women experience more issues with the thyroid than men do.
Understanding Thyroid Disease 
One in eight women may experience thyroid issues during their lives. Thyroid problems cause menstrual issues and difficulty conceiving or issues during pregnancy. Women who have children are at greater risk for postpartum thyroiditis, inflammation of the thyroid, which can affect up to 10% of women and increases tiredness and irritability.
Symptoms of an Overactive Thyroid
  • irritability, mood swings, anxiety, hyperactive
  • being sweaty or sensitive to high temperatures
  • shaking hands
  • hair loss
  • missing periods or getting a lighter period than usual
Symptoms of an Under-Active Thyroid 
  • Insomnia
  • feeling tired
  • trouble concentrating
  • dry skin and hair
  • depressed
  • sensitive to cold temperatures
  • pain in joints and muscles
  • frequent heavy periods
It’s important to remember that these are not things to be worried about, but to be conscious of so you know how to take care of yourself appropriately.
Our Ovaries, Ourselves
Our ovaries store all the eggs we will ever produce in a lifetime, but they influence more than just our reproductive abilities. Our ovaries are engaged in constant communication with our brains! These little guys are quite the chatty Cathy’s, they’ve been talking to your brain, about YOU for your entire life. These hormone makers are on of the most important organs in a female body, especially as we age.
The two main hormones produced by the ovaries are:
  • Progesterone
  • Estrogen
The conversation between your ovaries and your brain started when you were just a toddler, the hypothalamus releasing the first drips of hormones which gave your ovaries a reason to send a hormonal message back which instinctively made you curious about your own body and the bodies of others. By the time you turned five the hypothalamus hushed a bit and your interest in the physical slowed down until about five years later when you received another rush of sex hormones and then you started to notice some of your friends were much cuter than they used to be. This flux in hormones was just the beginning and soon you would receive a flood of these hormones that changed your life forever.
From the very beginning our ovaries were patiently awaiting to spark our bodies transformation from a young little girl to a woman. Before these glands produced any eggs they produced progesterone and estrogen which helped you go from one wold of existence to another with all the beauty and curses that came with that shift. As these hormones released we noticed changes; wider hips, soft shiny hair, glowing eyes, larger bosoms, and our favorite thing of all–a monthly cycle.
This cycle brought with it all our favorite hormones which drastically affected our lives and how we felt and interacted with others during the month. As the ever changing female body dances through time, our bodies start to morph internally, our level of hormones slowing beginning to decline as our bodies begin preparing for new shifts that are scheduled to come into our lives.1.
 
How Having Children (or not) Affects Our Health 
Having children:
  • reduces your risk for breast and ovarian cancer (each birth reducing the chance of breast or ovarian cancer by 7% and every year of breastfeeding reduced the risk by 4%
  • lactation changes how breast cells behave, making them less likely to develop into a breast cancer cell
  • lower rates of endometriosis
  • lower rates of poly-cystic ovary syndrome
  • lower risk of uterine fibroids
  • increased risk of post-partum depression (a study out of Germany showed that the first year after a child is born is worse for a persons psychological well being than divorce, unemployment, and even the death of a partner)
  • increase risk of uterine prolapse
Not having children:
  • women how do not conceive have consistent period throughout a lifetime, which may lead to higher risk of endomedtriosis, when the endometrial tissue that lines the uterus spread into other organs and causes heavy bleeding, pain during sex, intense cramping and sometimes infertility.
Essential Nutrients
There is a happy ending to this story for us ladies, like I said, the ever changing female body is a beautiful one. It deserves love and support throughout all of it’s phases. A few things we can do are to incorporate some essential nutrients to keep us feeling a bit more level. Remember to also have a diet with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, good quality protein, good quality fats such as olive or coconut oil + omega 3 fatty acids, and also an array of complex carbohydrates such as quinoa, brown rice and buckwheat.
  • Iodine– This is number one on the list for a reason! Without iodine, your thyroid cannot make hormones…period!
  • Selenium– selenium is involved in the conversion of T4 into the more active thyroid hormone, T3 and is also a potent antioxidant which protects the thyroid from oxidation damage
  • Zinc – zinc enhances the conversion from T4 into T3, maintaining optimal thyroid function
  • Iron – iron deficiency can hinder the manufacturing of thyroid hormones by reducing specific enzyme activities
Foods to avoid:
  • soy – soy is a phytoestrogen and can interfere with thyroid functionality
  • cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts contain thiouracil which inhibits the manufacturing of thyroid hormones. cooking them down eliminates the risk so you do not have to cut them out completely, perhaps cook them longer, do not consume raw. 2.
Meditation for the Endocrine System
You do not have to understand where everything is in your body and you do not have to understand how it works. The only thing you need for this meditation is your free will to do it and about 10 minutes.
Sit upright, propped up on a pillow for extra support or lay down (as long as the spine is straight.)
Close your eyes and take a few deep, slow breaths then continue with a normal breathing rhythm, do not force.
Scan your body and become aware of any areas of tension and see if you can soften them. Bringing awareness to these places is generally all that’s needed to relax the muscle groups.
Say internally as you do a second scan, starting from the top of your head, at your pituitary gland and pineal gland, “thank you for all that you do for my body”
As you make your way down to your throat repeat this expression of gratitude, and continue down past your ribs, to your stomach and ovaries, then down your legs towards your toes.
This scan can take as long as you like, when you complete the scan I want you to try and “sit” in your ovaries, or your pituitary gland, or your thyroid, or whatever part of your endocrine system you so choose and breathe there for ten breaths. You can start over once you count to ten for up to 3 or 4 times if you would like.
This process is very healing and helps us to appreciate the ever changing female body even more and all that it helps create for us.
Sources:
1. Bark, Sandra and Diaz, Cameron. “The Longevity Book. The science of aging, the biology of strength, and the privilege of time.” 2016. Harper Wave Books. New York, New York.

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