What the heck is going on with women’s bodies? That’s what I’ve been on a mission to learn, especially since being thrust into perimenopause and experiencing some digestive issues. So, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and podcast listening.
Two sources have been helpful: an interview with neuroscientist, Dr. Lisa Mosconi called, How to Truly Care for the Female Brain and an interview with the Menopositive Doctors (Drs. Michelle and Michaela) called, How to Optimize Your Journey with The Menopositive Doctors.
Dr. Mosconi explains that male and female brains are different; consequently, they should be studied and treated as such. However, understanding the female body hasn’t been a medical priority. On a social justice level, this sucks. On a human being level, it’s left women clueless as to what’s happening with our bodies as we age, whether it’s during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause.
But not anymore.
Dr. Mosconi is conducting research to explain the connection between women’s brains and menopause. One fascinating thing she said is that “ovaries and brains are connected.” According to Dr. Mosconi, the brain and ovaries talk to one another every day to create a healthy system. “So, if something happens in the ovaries, then something changes in the brain, as well.”
Dr. Mosconi also found that there’s a drop in brain functioning during pre- and perimenopause. But then there’s a “recovery, where the brain begins compensating for menopause,” which is why symptoms eventually decrease or go away altogether. Our brains are literally working to make up for what our ovaries can no longer do!
Finally, Dr. Mosconi says hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms do not start in the ovaries; they start in the brain. These symptoms are “neurological.”
The Menopositive Doctors explain the interconnectedness of sex hormones and other hormones. While the brain is talking to the ovaries, the sex hormones are talking to other organs and hormones.
Dr. Michelle says that all our lives, our sex hormones have basically been holding things together. She says, “all of the effects they were providing…all the delicate interplay between our other hormones—our thyroid, our adrenal glands, our digestive system, our liver—those sex hormones were really supporting us to keep things even keel, and maybe sort of providing a cloak so that we didn’t see everything underneath that was slowly off-balance, and now that those levels have naturally dipped … everything else is coming more up to the surface.”
Recently, a doctor said no woman develops mental health during menopause; it was already there. At that time, I didn’t get it. However, Dr. Michelle’s explanation of how sex hormones talk to other hormones to balance stress, etc. now makes sense. What’s declining are your sex hormones, which can no longer stabilize the other hormones.
Dr. Michelle says that sex hormones are also “cardio protective,” and “they help in regard to bone health.” Now, I understand why I know more than a few women over sixty who have had cardiovascular disease or osteoporosis.
Each doctor emphasizes the importance of nutrition and health. The info below demonstrates what the doctors stress as important for their respective foci (i.e., brain or hormones).
“When it comes to brain health, supplements cannot replace a healthy diet” Dr. MosconiTweet
The Menopositive Doctors promote four lifestyle changes for menopausal women: