Aging and Hormones: How Far Are You Willing to Go?

While researching for my post, “Going Through the Uglies”, I came across a good mix of interesting, informative and shocking articles about aging, beauty and hormones. If puberty and maturity are just two of the many major hormonal shifts I have to go through as I grow older, then I must prepare myself for the bigger battles ahead. It might be too early to think of “menopause” considering I haven’t even crossed my 30’s yet but I think there’s no such thing as “too early” when it comes to preparing ourselves for the challenges of aging. Of course, aging is inevitable but I believe there’s always the option to try and age gracefully or try NOT to age prematurely. In the same way, there are also other options which I will not be willing to try such as hormonal replacement treatments.

Aging and Estrogen
As women age, estrogen levels drop making skin more prone to photo damage and moisture loss and generally a decrease in muscle tone and bone mass. The combination leads to the dreaded common signs of aged skin–sagging, wrinkled and lackluster. Most of the female body’s supply of estrogen is produced in the ovaries so when menstruation ceases, the ovaries stop producing estrogen. The body has to depend on other estrogen-producing organs from then on.

Hormone Replacement Therapy
Many women dread the thought of “menopause” ten times more than a staggering credit card bill. One of the monumental changes once a woman approaches menopause is the sudden drop of estrogen which triggers a roll of internal and external changes. A couple more decades (hopefully) away from menopause, I can’t help but be scared, too, when I hear stories of how other women suddenly aged significantly after menopause. A couple of “Anti-Aging Doctors” suggest that the way to go is to boost up dropping hormone levels and to revert them back to how they used to be during the lost youthful years. But I shudder at the thought of messing up with my hormones.

Suzanne Somers, now 64, is the author of a series of best-selling books exploring hormones, health and aging. Suzanne said, “A lot of women, as they get older, their breasts start to droop… But when you put the hormones back in the right template, everything perks up again!” It sounds so easy–but to practice what she preached, she “takes daily shots of human growth hormone (hGH). Using a plastic applicator, shoots a so-called bioidentical hormone called estriol directly into her vagina. She rubs bioidentical estrogen cream on her left arm every day, and two weeks out of the month adds progesterone on her right arm (source article)”. For someone like me who’s paranoid of even taking Evening Primrose Oil for fear of messing up her hormones, what Suzanne goes through is a horror story. To add to that, Suzanne developed breast cancer while on her hormone-heavy routine and had a hysterectomy due to precancerous changes in her uterus.

Maintaining healthy hormone levels is definitely one of the keys to aging gracefully but it’s definitely not the only one and it’s just but a few pixels in the whole picture–At least that’s how I prefer to look at it, especially ever since I’ve started going as natural as possible in my beauty routine.

My mother has always managed to NOT look her age. However, currently going through menopause, there was a stage when she almost started to look her age. But after a couple of months of battling menopausal symptoms, she bounced back to looking youthful, looking like she’s 28 again instead of 48. She didn’t go through any hormone therapy and I strongly advised her against taking Evening Primrose Oil supplements. She didn’t take any estrogen-boosting pills to combat the menopausal roller-coaster ride either. Instead of resulting to anything unimaginable, she changed her lifestyle and diet for the better (..much better because she already had a relatively healthy lifestyle previously) and focused on improving her health above anything else. She’s been coping with aging so gracefully that some people accused her of having gone for plastic surgery as she barely changed over the years.

General Wellness and Extra Care
My mother’s own experience, along with extra-ordinary women like Mimi Kirk (PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50) left a lasting impression on me. The natural process of aging is inevitable but there’s a way to slow it down–and that is by taking away unnecessary stress. Emotionally and psychologically, it could be as easy as accepting aging as a part of life. Physically, it’s to help the body cope with all the hormonal ups and downs and whatever other stress the body has to go through in the course of aging. In the general sense of it, a good and safe approach to aging gracefully isn’t so complicated. In fact, it might be too simple and basic to the point of being boring and difficult.

To me, the key to aging gracefully is still to take BETTER care of ourselves as we age; it’s to give our body the additional support it needs and not to force it to function in any other way. It’s best to start all the good healthy habits young to avoid all the regrets later on. As we age, it’s just natural for our body to slow down which explains why bad habits like overeating and sleeping less or not sleeping at all tend to take a bigger toll on our energy levels and well-being now as compared to a couple of years ago.

How do we begin? By improving our lifestyle, starting with our diet. I tend to look at good health in the face of aging as a pair of good running shoes. A good pair of running shoes provides enough cushioning, balance and absorbs most of the shock from the constant contact of our feet and weight against the ground. If we were to run barefooted, not only will we get bad sores and calluses on our feet, we’ll be damaging our leg joints too because nothing is protecting our bones from the constant impact caused by running. We’ll be experiencing the “wear and tear” damage directly and at a much faster rate.

Coupling good health with effective anti-aging products and beauty routines helps protect our body from external and superficial damage, which could grow deeper with age. As we age, our hair and skin’s needs and condition change. Our skin thins with age, making it more prone to UV damage. I can never stress enough the importance of applying an effective sunscreen everyday. Anti-aging and anti-oxidant ingredients like Vit A, Vit E, Vit C, Ellagic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, etc. become more and more essential in our skincare routine while haircare products rich in amino acids and hair-strengthening ingredients like amla seed oil, sesame seed oil, aloe vera, coconut oil, silk protein, etc. should be on our wish list to keep our hair from aging too fast (premature greying and thinning of hair).

When do we begin? Now.

It’s a Personal Choice
The rate of how fast we age may be partially based on genes,too–and as I write this entry, I’m hoping that 20-30 years from now, I’ll find myself as genetically gifted in the “barely aged” department like my Mom. But I’m not willing to just wait, sit around, do nothing and find out the answer later. I’ll try to address aging in the way I believe in and whether I’ll be successful or not, I’ll let you know 20-30 years from now. Hope my blog is still active by then. ^_^

Again, I’m not willing to tweak my hormones to keep my youth but it’s a personal choice.  I don’t have anything against those who choose to go through it. In fact, I’m interested to know whether any of my readers have gone for hormone replacement therapy or taken any hormone-regulating pills for beauty and anti-aging. So if you have any related experience or views, please do share below!

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  • dooey

    may i know why evening primrose oil is bad?
    i thought it’s considered a supplement?

    • Vivi

      Hey Dooey, Evening Primrose Oil is not “bad” per se. But I prefer not to take it as it can raise estrogen levels in the body– that may be good temporarily but that is not normal. Women usually have enough estrogen levels in the body unless they suffer from a severe medical condition. You can research online how some women experienced worse hormonal imbalance (bad water retention, more prone to uterus and breast tumors, etc) after taking EPO for months and years. This is a good site to start with:

      • dooey

        thanks, that’s interesting (:

  • OSeñorita

    There are so many things a woman has to go through. Whew!!! Good thing that there are so many discoveries to delay the visible signs of ageing.

    Oh and btw, Orange Señorita Shop is one of the sponsors of Vivawoman’s July Giveaway Contest. We are giving away almost 2,000++ worth of Human Nature products. We do hope you can join and participate. 😀

  • astrorainfall @ beauty box

    Yeah, I’m pretty against hormone replacement therapy after my experience with the pill. I don’t think we were meant to ingest extra estrogen like that… The problem is when do you stop? When you stop, the aging sets in plus all the awful menopausal symptoms.
    Or do you continue till you die?

    I love Mimi Kirk! Your mum is so lucky – I hope I can go the route of no HRT too and age gracefully!

    • Vivi

      I’m really scared of pills and any therapy or medicine that affects the hormone levels significantly.
      Cheers to aging gracefully!
      I’ve got some really big shoes to fill due to my mom looking the way she does. :S

  • Betchy torres

    Hi Vivi.. i am so intrigued at how your mother managed to sail her way through menopause with flying colors in the sense that she didn’t succumb to taking any of these HRT’s and still hardly aged. I guess when it comes to looking young for one’s actual age, it is more of a gift than an accident. hope you could post a pic of your Mom here..just hoping :)

    • Vivi

      I guess aside from the fact that she’s genetically blessed, she lived a fulfilling and happy life with my Dad. My elders used to regard marital problems as one of the biggest comtributors to aging and so thankfully, my parents have always stayed very much in love with each other and they rarely quarrel :) Oh my, I better find myself a good man!

  • va

    I try to take cod liver oil pills and omega 3 ‘s . Is it ok to do ? Also , heard primrose oil and black currant oil improves beauty and gives you a glow naturally .
    would love to know your thoughts , thanks

    • Vivi

      From what my nutritionist told me, there’s no need to take cod liver oil supplements if you’re taking Omega 3 supplements which are better. But you have to take enough of it for you to see the difference. I try to take six capsules of Omega 3 a day (2 caps after/during each meal).

      I haven’t heard about black currant oil. As for Evening primrose oil, I don’t recommend it as its long term effects are not so good. You can read my first reply to Dooey’s
      comment above to know why.

      • va

        sorry I took so long to reply .. I am sad about evening primrose oil because I was looking forward to trying it out for the first time and am all for natural things that are good for the body . So I will not take them . Omega 3’s I will take but cod liver will have to read about that .
        Thanks for your reply ViVi ! I appreciate it .