written by Filza Swalah, ND
Your 30s are the new 20s. Your career could be taking off, you could be back in school to pursue a new interest, you may have met your soulmate and things might just feel more settled. There truly is nothing that differentiates the 30s from the 20s anymore. Except for your hormones. Hormones take a turn as more birthday candles are added, but not necessarily for the worse. Let’s discuss which hormones are impacted the most and how to support them.
Estrogens are a group of hormones that are responsible for developing breast tissue in puberty and pregnancy, growing the endometrial lining, and also benefitting bone and heart health.1 This hormone doesn’t typically fluctuate during this decade, but changes do start to occur in the 40s when women typically transition into .
While there is nothing stopping estrogen production during this decade, something that can occur is suboptimal liver detoxification. It’s important to support the liver’s detox pathways and enzymes since most of the estrogen is metabolized and cleared by the liver.2When too much estrogen is in the system, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms like irregular periods.3
One way to support your liver, for hormonal balance, is by avoiding xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are substances found in most cosmetics and fragrances that chemically resemble estrogen and mimic its actions. Another way to support liver metabolism is with DIM, Indole-3-carbinol, and calcium-d-glucarate. These substances work in the liver, urinary system and gut to help clear excess estrogen, keeping estrogen balance in check. Find all these key ingredients in EstroSmart.
This hormone is responsible for growing the uterine lining, preparing a uterus for a possible pregnancy.4 Progesterone is at its peak after ovulation occurs, so fluctuations are a result of not ovulating. Does ovulation decrease as you age? The answer isn’t so simple. Anovulatory cycles can occur throughout menstrual years but are most common when periods are just getting started, during menopause, if someone has a low body mass index, or they are diagnosed with the polycystic ovarian syndrome.5For those who don’t know if they are ovulating, ovulation kits are beneficial. Even if you aren’t trying to conceive, understanding when (and even if) you are ovulating can give you more insight on your menstrual health.
Pre-menstrual symptoms, aka PMS, is one of the main symptoms women experience in this decade. Many women, about 3 in 4, experience PMS with varying signs and symptoms like: tender breasts, acne, bloating, constipation, cravings, fatigue, irritability, and depression.6 Although the cause of PMS is unknown, we know that natural fluctuations in hormones (like the ebb and flow of progesterone throughout the cycle) is a contributing factor.6 One way to soothe the uncomfortable feelings of PMS is with Vitex. It’s a herb that’s been used for centuries for hormones and rightly so! Research indicates that Vitex is effective in reducing symptoms of PMS.7 One easy and effective way to get Vitex added to your supplement routine is with Cyclesmart, which helps with menstrual irregularities and breast pain.
This is a male sex hormone that is still found in women but in lower amounts. Testosterone is essential for women as it helps with sex drive, bone health, energy, and even how the ovaries function.8 Women naturally produce less testosterone because of aging, and the decline is most significant during menopause. Birth control pills can also decrease the body’s natural testosterone production9, resulting in symptoms like low libido or difficulty reaching orgasms.8If you are experiencing low libido, it could be low testosterone. However, it’s difficult to get an accurate testosterone measurement via bloodwork since testosterone fluctuates daily, especially if you still have a menstrual cycle.10 One way to revitalize libido is with Tribulus, found in Sexsmart, which has been found to be effective in increasing sex drive in menopausal individuals.11,12
Androgen excess is something that’s more common and easily diagnosed. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes higher than average testosterone levels leading to missed periods and cysts on the ovaries along with other signs and symptoms like acne, hair growth on the chin and weight gain.13 There are multiple causes of PCOS, genes being one, but also inflammation and insulin resistance.13
4. The Thyroid Hormones
The small yet mighty thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism, muscle contraction, and skin and bone health.14 Women, especially as they grow older, are more susceptible to having a thyroid gland that is slow to produce and can’t keep up with the body’s demands. Symptoms of this could be weight gain, feeling cold, fatigue, hair loss, constipation, hair loss, and even dry skin.15
While key sex hormones and thyroid hormones don’t change drastically during the 30s, lifestyle habits and diet can play a huge factor in other types of hormones. Your body (and hormones) are less forgiving to poor food choices, lack of exercise, no stress management and sub-par sleep hygiene. Let’s take a deeper dive:
Insulin is a hormone that is released in response to food. When blood sugar spikes, the body releases insulin to help muscles absorb sugar and use it as energy, or it tells the liver to store extra sugar as fat. When blood sugar is constantly high, more and more insulin needs to be released - which could make cells resistant to it over time. This is called insulin resistance and is the lead-up to type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life.16Although type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are more prevalent in women in menopause, insulin resistance could start even as early as the 20s.
Excess insulin can also stimulate testosterone production, making it a hallmark in the cause of PCOS.17 Another reason to keep your insulin in check! Making healthy dietary choices, like eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains can help mitigate insulin resistance, and being active can play a major role in terms of prevention.
There is nothing about aging that increases cortisol levels, more so habits that influence its rise. Poor sleeping habits,18 too much coffee,19and alcoholic beverages20 all lend a hand to elevated cortisol levels. Not only are these habits increasing your cortisol, but so are everyday stressors like work. The body thinks of these triggers as “threats”, unleashing cortisol and priming your body for fighting it off or running away from it. Although the body aims to have cortisol levels balanced, long-term stressors - like 5 cups of coffee in a day combined with an increased workload - could keep your body primed for fight and flight and high cortisol levels. This could lead to mood changes, digestive issues, sleep problems, and weight gain.21
Stress can also impact the menstrual cycle. One way it can impact the cycle is by delaying ovulation or preventing it from happening altogether.22Another way stress impacts hormones, and the cycle is via PMS. PMS occurs when natural hormone fluctuations begin, especially right before a period, which can trigger physical changes. Studies show that women who are stressed daily are more sensitive to hormonal changes and can experience worse PMS.23
That’s why managing stress is important. Luckily there are proven ways to decrease it, like meditation, deep breathing and Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is a herb, used in traditional medicine, which is effective in increasing energy and helps the body resist stress.24 Adrenasmart is one way help balance and decrease stress!
Many of the hormonal changes that occur during the 30s are due to lifestyle or dietary habits while natural hormonal changes occur more during perimenopause and menopause. Using your 30s to build and solidify your foundational health can ensure your 40s, 50s, and beyond are set up for your best hormonal health!
- Delgado BJ, Lopez-Ojeda W. Estrogen. [Updated 2022 Jun 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538260/
- Aviva Romm, Isla Burgess, David Winston, Suzanna M. Zick, Amanda McQuade Crawford.CHAPTER 7 - Conditions of the Reproductive Organs.Editor(s): Aviva Romm, Mary L. Hardy, Simon Mills.Botanical Medicine for Women's Health.Churchill Livingstone.2010,Pages 211-255. ISBN 9780443072772.https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-443-07277-2.00009-(https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978044307277200009X)
- High estrogen: Causes, symptoms, dominance & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2023, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22363-high-estrogen
- Merck Manual Consumer Version. Menstrual Cycle. Accessed June 30, 2021 at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/en-ca/home/women-s-health-issues/biology-of-the-female-reproductive-system/menstrual-cycle.
- Anovulation: Signs, symptoms, causes & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21698-anovulation
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, February 25). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20376780
- van Die, M. D., Burger, H. G., Teede, H. J., & Bone, K. M. (2013). Vitex agnus-castus extracts for female reproductive disorders: a systematic review of clinical trials. Planta medica, 79(7), 562–575. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0032-1327831Low testosterone in women: Symptoms, causes, and treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/low-testosterone/low-testosterone-in-women
- Low testosterone in women: Symptoms, causes, and treatment. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/low-testosterone/low-testosterone-in-women
- Zimmerman Y, Eijkemans MJ, Coelingh Bennink HJ, Blankenstein MA, Fauser BC. The effect of combined oral contraception on testosterone levels in healthy women: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Hum Reprod Update. 2014 Jan-Feb;20(1):76-105. doi: 10.1093/humupd/dmt038. Epub 2013 Sep 29. PMID: 24082040; PMCID: PMC3845679.
- Nall, R. (2018, August 30). Low testosterone in women: Causes and treatments. Healthline. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/low-testosterone-in-women#causes
- Vale FBC, Souza KZD de, Rezende CR, Geber S. Efficacy of Tribulus Terrestris for the treatment of premenopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder: a randomized double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2017;34:1–4.
- Tadayon M, Shojaee M, Afshari P, Moghimipour E, Haghighizadeh MH. The effect of hydro-alcohol extract of Tribulus terrestris on sexual satisfaction in postmenopause women: A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. J Fam Medicine Prim Care. 2018;7:888–92
- Watson, S. (2021, April 19). Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Healthline. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://www.healthline.com/health/polycystic-ovary-disease#what-is-pcos
- Thyroid hormone: What it is & function. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22391-thyroid-hormone#:~:text=Thyroid%20hormone%20is%20the%20hormone,collectively%20make%20up%20thyroid%20hormone.
- Shahid MA, Ashraf MA, Sharma S. Physiology, Thyroid Hormone. [Updated 2022 May 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK500006/
- Xu, H., Li, X., Adams, H., Kubena, K. & Guo, S. Etiology of Metabolic Syndrome and Dietary Intervention Int J Mol Sci 20, (2018).
- Pateguana NB, Janes A. The contribution of hyperinsulinemia to the hyperandrogenism of polycystic ovary syndrome. J. insul. resist. 2019;4(1), a50. https://doi.org/10.4102/jir.v4i1.50
- Hirotsu C, Tufik S, Andersen ML. Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions. Sleep Sci. 2015 Nov;8(3):143-52. doi: 10.1016/j.slsci.2015.09.002. Epub 2015 Sep 28. PMID: 26779321; PMCID: PMC4688585.
- Lovallo WR, Farag NH, Vincent AS, Thomas TL, Wilson MF. Cortisol responses to mental stress, exercise, and meals following caffeine intake in men and women. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2006 Mar;83(3):441-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2006.03.005. Epub 2006 May 2. PMID: 16631247; PMCID: PMC2249754.
- Blaine SK, Milivojevic V, Fox H, Sinha R. Alcohol Effects on Stress Pathways: Impact on Craving and Relapse Risk. Can J Psychiatry. 2016 Mar;61(3):145-53. doi: 10.1177/0706743716632512. Epub 2016 Feb 9. PMID: 27254089; PMCID: PMC4813419.
- Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, July 8). Chronic stress puts your health at risk. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 5, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037#:~:text=Cortisol%2C%20the%20primary%20stress%20hormone,fight%2Dor%2Dflight%20situation.
- Ozgocer, T., Ucar, C. & Yildiz, S. Daily cortisol awakening response and menstrual symptoms in young females. Stress Health 38, 57–68 (2022).
- Rieder, J. K., Kleshchova, O. & Weierich, M. R. Estradiol, Stress Reactivity, and Daily Affective Experiences in Trauma-Exposed Women.Psychological Trauma Theory Res Pract Policy 14, 738–746 (2022).
- Government of Canada, H. C. (2007, May 8). Ashwagandha. Monograph: Ashwagandha. Retrieved January 25, 2023, from https://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=35