Period flu, flooding, serious cramping and anxiety?
Even if you have never experienced these, you can in perimenopause.
Our bodies are changing and our hormones are shifting. Our guest, Ali Damron (@alidamron), is an expert in women's cycles and shares with us what happens in perimenopause so we can be more prepared. She also talks about some things we can try.
Ali specializes in women's hormones, and is a wife, a mom of two boys, podcast host of The Ali Damron Show, YouTuber, course creator and practitioner.
It’s Ali's mission to educate women about the importance of health and hormones by teaching women how to be healthy. She works with women to provide natural approaches to healing and get them looking and feeling their best.
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Welcome back to the inviting Schiff podcast for the very last episode of our first year, and on this episode, we are going to talk about what midlife women need most which is menopause, and perimenopause, and all of these changes that are happening in our body. I gotta tell you, I was quite shocked about how my menstrual cycle has changed since I don't know two years ago. And Ally Dameron has the answers for me. So if you are suffering through symptoms that you never had before, I think Ali is going to cover that today, and what you might be able to do about it to alleviate some of the symptoms. I am so excited to have this conversation, it came at the perfect time for me. So I hope that you'll tune in. Well, welcome ally Dameron to the inviting shift podcast. Thanks for being here. Yeah.Ali Damron:
Thanks so much for having me. Always a pleasure. Yes. AndChristina Smith:
we're gonna talk about really, really great stuff today. And it's so relevant right now for me, because I just got my period. And I was just asking Ali about some questions, because my cycle has definitely changed over the last year, I would say for sure. And so we're gonna talk about some really, but what she was just telling me a lot of our clients are like, is this TMI, not here? It's not because we're going to talk about it. Women need to know what's going on with their bodies. So Ali, tell us a little bit more about you and what it is that you do.Ali Damron:
Yeah, absolutely. So I live in the Denver Colorado area, I have a business that I do all virtual. So don't live near me at all. I work with women all over the US and I am an acupuncturist by trade. But like I said, I just work virtually doing Women's Health consultations. And I have some digital courses and lots of free resources and things like that. But I basically work with women on Hormonal Health. So I encompass a wide range of women anywhere from I spoke to a teenage daughter who's 13 struggling with her period all the way through women who are going through menopause, in their 50s. And even beyond that, but you know, work on fertility post partum periods, perimenopause, PMS, or regular cycles, PCOS, just all the different things that women struggle with in terms of their energy, their mood, their sleep, their periods, digestion, those are kind of like my big wheel houses that I work with, with women, because I feel like there's so many women out there who have these like laundry lists of things like you're saying, like they just like weird things occur with their periods, or they feel low energy or they're feeling anxious, or whatever. And it's just, there's not like a clear cut thing to do for any of these things, or where to go for help or any of those things. And so I try to kind of be a voice of reason and teach women holistically what's going on how to tie everything together, and then obviously come up with a good comprehensive treatment plan on how to help them feel better and improve their quality of life.Christina Smith:
Yeah, and I think that this is so important, because, you know, there's even families that don't talk about this, like mothers and daughters that don't talk about it, they don't want to know about it, they don't want to talk about it. And yet it's something that affects almost every woman in this country. And so it's like, why aren't we talking about this more, and I can tell you just this morning, I was just, I just got my period, I was telling Ali and I am feeling like Ill the last few times I've gotten my period, I feel I feel chills and sweaty and it's more than just the cramps that I used to have. And Ali was telling me something about the period flu. So tell us a little bit about what the period flu is.Ali Damron:
So yeah, so this is something that is really common. A lot of women experience this and they're, they'll just feel anything from like, like you said, the cramping and like back pain, but you can also feel just like achy, how you feel when you're getting sick, or chills, feverish, really low energy, headaches, diarrhea, any of those things, and basically what those symptoms mean are that there is too much inflammation happening and then the immune system is becoming a little bit more activated. And so you know, even when we get sick, like fevers, chills, those types of things are defense mechanisms from our immune system. It's actually not the virus that are causing those symptoms. And so the immune system also plays a big role with the period and hormonal production and so when I'm treating this i to work on inflammation, and then the immune system, it just kind of like regulating that out. And it usually works really well. I want to remind people, some inflammation is a really like buzzy thing. And everyone's scared of inflammation. It's nothing to be scared of, it's a normal response. When we exercise, we get inflammation. When we're sick, we're inflamed. There is a little part of our body that's called the prostaglandins, which are a little inflammatory molecules that are produced to go in and thin our uterine lining when we are about to have a period. And for some women, there can be more than enough. And that's what causes this inflammation and sort of some of these symptoms that we get. So it's more just about working on inflammation, and the immune system to kind of regulate that a little bit. But I you know, inflammation is just such a scary term now that people have used in their marketing for a lot of fear mongering, and I want to just kind of like squash that right now that there's nothing inherently wrong. It's just something that we seem to work through a little bit, but it doesn't mean that you have something crazy wrong with you.Christina Smith:
Okay, yeah, cuz I feel like I've been hit by a train. I don't know what's going on in my body. And it felt I was just like this. And I thought, like, the first time it happened, I was like, Alright, maybe I got a little, you know, virus or something. Who knows? But then it happened like the last three months. And before that, it was just cramping. But now it really feels like my head is fuzzy and aches a bit. And I'm, like I said, the sweat and the chills at the same time. It's crazy. Because I've never experienced this before. So is this something that women can experience more and more as like they move through perimenopause? Or does this happen at any time?Ali Damron:
It can happen at anytime. There's a lot of teenage girls who have this to actually, I would say the two biggest demographics are probably teenage girls who are starting their periods the first couple of years. And then women going through perimenopause, we kind of consider perimenopause is like your second puberty. And so there's like this connection from your brain. So your hypothalamus pituitary gland in your brain are the control centers. And so that's what's communicating with the ovaries to tell it what to do and what hormones to produce at any given time. And when we're teenagers, that connection like your brains, trying to like establish that good connection really well. It just takes some cycles and some time to kind of get that going. And then at the end of our kind of menstrual cycle life and perimenopause and our 40s and 50s, it's sort of happening again, right? Like the connection just isn't quite as good as it used to be because your ovaries are just kind of like, Man kind of done here. Like don't do as much as we used to. And so the connection can kind of be a little, a little weird. I kind of like like TV static, maybe not communicating quite as well. So I think that the symptoms of that are more common in teenagers and then perimenopause. But that can happen at any time.Christina Smith:
Hmm, very interesting. And then there's this other part of my period, where, like, it used to be really steady for the like, five to seven days or whatever. And now it feels like I think somebody else called it flooding it, it feels like my body has gotten so efficient that it's like, okay, let's release everything in a 48 hour period.Ali Damron:
Yeah. So what happens in perimenopause is, let me back up. So there's two specific hormones that are really important in our menstrual cycle, and one of them's estrogen, and one of them is progesterone. Estrogen is the hormone that creates a thick endometrial lining. It helps us to ovulate. It helps us to grow breast tissue, like milk ducts, is part of that it helps us to develop like hips, button, thigh tissue, there's all kinds of things that protects our bones, brain and heart. It does a whole bunch of things. But it is a hormone that in excess will create that flooding, create a lot of like PMS, a lot of heavy bleeding or regular cycles, clotting those types of things. And so we have this other hormone that's produced from ovulation on called progesterone so pro gestation, and that hormone goes in and helps kind of like oppose that estrogen so it keeps it in check. So well, estrogen is thickening that lining, your progesterone goes in and thins it out and it just they kind of like oppose each other so they both have to be in a good ratio. So what's happening in perimenopause is estrogen starts to go on a roller coaster so I think a lot of us assume that like throughout our you know 40s and 50s that estrogen just gonna like slowly start to go down and progesterone are well too and like that's what it is. But actually, that's not quite what happens. Estrogen just goes on like this big roller coaster each month. It does. And so in terms of like a normal menstrual cycle, but even like monthly it will now so some months, you know, especially for some women, they may have like a 20 day cycle and then it goes to be 60 days, and then it's 14 days, and then it's 50 days, that's a sign that estrogen is on a big roller coaster. And then the other thing is progesterone is just kind of like quietly exiting the scene. So while we used to have his progesterone to keep it in check, that's really not happening as much as it used to. And so estrogen can just kind of like run the show. And that's where a lot of us start to get like breast tenderness again, or or moodiness, worse, PMS, headaches, clotting, cramping, like I said, really heavy, heavy blood flow. All of those things are due to kind of like this high level of estrogen and low level of progesterone, we call it estrogen dominance, which can mean a few different things. But that's really what we're looking at.Christina Smith:
And that's interesting that you say that about the length of the period, because for an entire year, I think it was like two years ago, I was getting my period every 18 to 22 days, which you know, as if it's not annoying enough. But yeah, and then and then that now my cycle is like super regular, it just does these weird things where I'm feeling sick, and it like it's not a steady blood flow, it's like it's like a rush. And then there's almost nothing.Ali Damron:
I would say that's probably some low progesterone happening to progesterone can also be anti inflammatory, it also helps her stress response. So if you feel more anxious, more irritable, insomnia, those types of symptoms before your c is equal to that can be a sign of low progesterone, which is what happens in our 40s and 50s. But there are things we can do to support that. So things like Vitamin E, is really helpful. And again, not medical advice, but just some options. Maca Root is another really great one. And then vytex are chaste tree Berry, that the same thing that also is really helpful. And then some women benefit. You know, it just kind of depends on what's going on. But some women benefit from actually taking a little bit of oral progesterone or creams or oils.Christina Smith:
And yessing. Yeah, and I don't think I ever knew that all these things happen. But I mean, as you're saying them, I'm like, yep, yep, I've done the lack of sleep. And because that always happens right before my period. That's almost how I know my periods coming up. Because I am up all night. And I'm like, I'm not even tired. How can I not be tired? Right? Yeah. And what else has happened? Oh, and my mi PMS like has gotten pretty serious to the point where I'm like, Oh, my God won't the Barrett Gump.Ali Damron:
I know that's, that's so true. So many people feel like they're just like begging their period to like start flowing. Because even just like emotionally, that flow is just like, Ah, thank God, it's like coming in. In that case, there's so when we're looking at like treating this, there's some specific treatment principles that I look at. So number one is like always supporting your progesterone in whatever way we need to. So I usually start with like, looking at the reasons. So for early 40s women, maybe there shouldn't be super low and stress has depleted it faster. Your stress response can also deplete hormones faster, or slow the endocrine system off and so definitely supporting your stress response can be really helpful for that as well. But like I said, using like vytex or vitamin E or something like that. And then, you know, if if it's still just severe in any of those areas, then we can definitely look at some progesterone supplementation. I will give you this caveat when you're testing your hormones, there's specific ways to do this. So if you're specifically wanting to look at your progesterone level, which I recommend for women going through perimenopause to look at progesterone and estrogen, in addition to anything else going on with those two specifically. And you always want to test that about five to seven days post ovulation. That's when progesterone is going to be its highest. And then estrogen is also at a peak. So that's a really great time to look at the ratio between the two. And there's a mathematical calculation that your practitioner can do to figure out the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, because also a lot of women come back with their lab work. And they're like, well, it looks like my estrogens in range and my progesterone is in range, I just still feel miserable. And it's because sometimes even in relation like progesterone can be low in relation to estrogen. And so there's also a little bit of an extra step to do to just do that calculation just to see for sure. Um, and then you really like I said, that's that's kind of like number one thing is to test correctly, because there's a lot of women that also come to me that like they just test whenever in their cycle, and their progesterone looks like it's about zero which is normal for like the first half of the cycle. You don't have any progesterone then so we just want accurate testing and that's something that unfortunately, a lot of providers don't even do I can't tell you the number of labs I've read from from OBS or different providers that are not, we can't really use it like it gives us no information, which is really frustrating. So just making sure so always want to add that caveat there. So that's kind of the first treatment principle is support progesterone. And then the second one is to make sure that you are metabolizing your estrogen correctly. So a lot of women need a little bit of like liver support. So making sure that you're doing your B vitamins, magnesium, choline, glycine, those are all different minerals and components that your liver needs to detox properly. Because remember that hormones are like little chemical messengers. So your brain tells your ovaries Hey, produce this estrogen at this time. And then estrogen goes and does its job that it's supposed to do. And then after that, it doesn't just like evaporate or evaporate or disintegrate, it has to be detoxed. And so then it goes to your liver, and then it goes through your large intestine to be excreted as bowel. And so if you're not going to the bathroom regularly, that can also be a reason that we start to have extra PMS and heavy periods and things like that. But also just liver support. So for drinking a lot of alcohol, we're really stressed, we're not eating a nutrient dense diet, we're exposed to a lot of like environmental toxins, those are all going to be reasons that your livers just a little bit sluggish. It's kind of like a traffic jam, like it's trying to filter out all of these things that we're exposed to, an estrogen is kind of like the bottom of the totem pole, like it can be there. And so it just kind of like lets it sit there. And that can create like a lot of like estrogen dominance in there. So a lot of estrogen that can cause these symptoms. So for that I usually like I said, I start with like, why is your liver slow is Are you stressed? Are you depleting all your minerals and vitamins from stress? Are you not eating a nutrient dense diet, like those types of things. And then we can use things like milk thistle, or dandelion roots, or NAC is a good antioxidant, or there's something called dim di m. And if you've ever looked at hormone supplements out there probably as dim in there, I'm not a huge fan of just using like any of like the blanket like support your hormone supplements, because it usually just adds in like the kitchen sink for it just as an every herb that ever balanced anyone's hormones before. And I think we can get more tailored and also get more therapeutic doses of them. Because usually, they're just kind of like everything, and they're not really very high doses of anything. Sometimes they work, I've also seen a lot of really frustrated patients from doing that. So it's better to just kind of bite the bullet and get on what you actually need to get on, do a little testing, work with somebody who knows what they're doing. So that you can really, truly like save time and money from doing that. Or things to do for both of those things.Christina Smith:
That's good to know. That's good to know, because I know a lot of people, at least a lot of women I've talked to they get a little fearful of just going straight to like the hormone replacement or adding a hormone replacement. And because there there are some other things that we can try first, right, first of all, and secondly, it just it feels very scary to like and and I'm not sure you tell me a little bit about hormone replacement. And you know what, what that looks like.Ali Damron:
So that's kind of the first thing that I want to just shout from the rooftops, if your periods energy, moods, sleep, any of those things are miserable. And you're a woman that is like, how she feels impacting your quality of life, whether it's daily, weekly, or monthly, like let's fix it. There's so much we can do. And I'm just such a proponent of No, you are to have women like run the show. And we can't just like have these things going on because it sucks. Like we all want to do our best and have all of these ambitions and you know, I just hate that breaks my heart for women that we just like struggle through these things, or get really bad answers. And so the that's kind of, you know, the hormone replacement therapy conversation is a super nuanced one. I've had this convo with lots and lots of women. In my opinion, it just there's so many different aspects of it. So there's been a lot of research around scary stuff about it about estrogen replacement therapy, causing cancer and things like that. And then there also has been studies that show that it's safe. I think it's somewhere in the middle to be honest, and I think it can be safe if you're doing it right with the right provider in the right dose testing the right things. Just a small caveat. If you ever get on estrogen, you need to get on progesterone as well to oppose it. You want to do bioidentical not synthetic, they definitely matter. But yes, there is So much to do before we just jump on hormone replacement therapy, like there's so many nutritional lifestyle, herbal, supplemental things to do that I very, very rarely tell patients to go to go on that route. I'm not opposed to it 100% And certain women that have tested tried other things, and they just virtually have no hormones, because also remember that, like I mentioned earlier, estrogen, for example, does support your, your bones, brain and heart. So if you for some reason have gone through premature menopause, whether that's surgical menopause or something like you know, just premature ovarian failure or something like that it is worth if you're in your 40s to get on something, it will decrease your risk of things like dementia, heart disease, osteoporosis, osteopenia, those types of things. So there are good candidates of women out there for this. However, in like your case, for example, you're starting to get like flooding, you're having the period flu stuff, you would not be a good candidate for estrogen replacement therapy like that would make you feel miserable, you would feel like you are pregnant, you would feel like these symptoms are a million and a half times worse. So I think that there's that to that there's kind of like I mentioned earlier, there's this misconception that like in perimenopause, estrogen is just low. Like that's what's happening. And that's not actually the case. Most of these symptoms that women in perimenopause are going through are actually due to high estrogen. And so you certainly would not want to add estrogen to high estrogen naturally. So that's where the case of like testing definitely comes into play. You also want to know, like, genetic history, do you have like a clotting disorder. So for me, I have something called factor five, which is a blood clotting disorder. So I am not ever going to be a candidate for estrogen replacement therapy that would cause like stroke and myself or increase the risk of that. You also want to know your family history of things like breast cancer, and see, you know, because that can definitely increase your risk further of getting that you also want to know how your livers detoxing. So do you have something called MTHFR, or CO MT, kind of like genetic gene mutation, that means that you're not a great detox er, and it doesn't mean that you're necessarily can't do it, but you certainly would want to support your detox pathways when you did do it. And then also, just making sure that you're testing regularly making sure that your your levels aren't sky high. I also have had a lot of women do like testosterone pellets or progesterone estrogen that their levels on labs are like 18 times what they should be, which also, I don't think we have necessarily the full data on that. But I don't think in my brain just realistically is probably a very great thing. Um, and so I think I think it's a super nuanced conversation. I think there are people who are great candidates for it. Absolutely. I think there are tons of people who are on it that don't need to be on it, too.Christina Smith:
Right. Right. And I think that that happens with a lot of things that come out just because doctors don't have deep they don't have detailed information on everything. And so they just kind of throw Bandy bandages at the at the problem, and I love how you're describing this as estrogen, because it really something for us to think about as it's like not just declining in this study, like, Oh, I'm just losing my estrogen. It's like firework feels like atAli Damron:
least for me. It is there are a you know, I have a lot of patients who sometimes will have like an 18 day cycle that's flooding, and then they won't have a period for 60 days. And so like, you know, that 18 Day flooding cycle is definitely your estrogen is high. But if we like then go to do a lab test and check it outside of that, and it's been, you know, a couple of weeks, like it might be really low then and it might look like oh, you don't have high estrogen. But the thing is you did a couple of weeks before when you were dealing with that other symptom. Now your body's just kind of like course corrected. And now it's low again. So it takes a little bit of like, understanding and there's like maca root, for example, or vytex, or just general liver support. Like there are options that just kind of help regulate things. So there's a lot of options of different things depending on kind of like what's going on. There are also women in perimenopause who have consistently 18 day cycles for months on end. And that's always a sign of like, okay, your estrogen is really high or your progesterone is really low, or both are happening. So let's, let's figure that out. Let's look and see what's happening.Christina Smith:
And I don't think I ever realized how connected my liver was to all of this and how important it is to I mean, now that I have the period flu I gotta tell you, I'm gonna be looking at I gotta be looking at it a lot more because it seems like it's really important and you know, I could, we could be doing all What kinds of things like even if you drink maybe, maybe for me, I don't drink a week before my period just to make sure that everything is like going through my liver and clearing out, rather than getting all blocked up. That's so that's so interesting and something I never would have thought of. I think that when we think about like our, our female hormones and our female body, I don't think that we recognize like, how many things these hormones are actually impacting in our body. I believe that they control everything, right, like all of our all of our organs. Mm hmm.Ali Damron:
Yeah. And, you know, that's something that I just think that we just do such a disservice for women. Like, I wasn't educated other than fifth grade sex ed for until I like, got into this and wantedChristina Smith:
and what was it like three classes? Maybe that was focused on sex ed?Ali Damron:
I didn't hear like, Oh my God, I don't want I don't know, I don't care. Like whatever. I don't I don't know, I don't understand this, like my son's in fourth grade. You're not gonna have any idea what's going on? Um, so So yeah, like, it's just something that we're just not discussed or taught or any of those things. Like you said, it's been such a stigma and taboo topic forever. I think that we're starting to get out of that a little bit. Thank God. But yeah, I mean, I think it's so many women just suffer from these types of things in silence across the board. Like there's a fertility conversation and miscarriage and postpartum and then perimenopause, and menopause. And, you know, I think women are just, you know, there's a lot of studies that were just unvalidated, doctors will think that we're just like crazy and emotional. And it's like, well, maybe, but like, it's due to something, let's fix it. Let's figure it out. Um, and so yeah, that's just really kind of like my biggest message is to educate empower women on their health so that they understand what's going on. They know how to talk to providers, and realize that something like hormone replacement therapy, or birth control are not the only two options out there. There's actually like something happening here. And we can totally your choice, but we can definitely figure out a route to, to what's happening.Christina Smith:
Well, I can tell you right now that no doctor has ever told me like, when in my period, I should go test for hormones, they, if they're like, oh, yeah, just send you right down, you know, to the, to the blood draw or whatever. And that that was it. Like, I didn't know anything about that. So that's very interesting to know that we should go You said up to like, a week after our period or ovulation, my bed, I'm gonna beAli Damron:
late. Yeah. And there's also a second time. So if you're not wanting to look at progesterone, so you're just wanting to look at like your estrogen level. This is more we call like day three labs. And it can be helpful for like menopausal women to kind of confirm post menopause or fertility patients to look at that. But you can do it on day three. So first day of your cycle is day one, that's the first day of bleeding, not spotting actual flow. And then you could do it two days later. But again, you can't check progesterone then because there is not, it's going to come back like point 2.5. And your body's gonna, or you're gonna be like, Oh, my God, I have no progesterone, that's what's happening. But that's actually normal. You shouldn't have any then.Christina Smith:
Right? Right, because the estrogen is hopefully building up and maybe notAli Damron:
exactly. Different times to look at things. But yeah, if you don't like you're missing so much data, there's not there's not a lot to look at, if you don't need it, especially if you don't know when it was in your cycle. It's like a total wash because those hormones like fluctuate all cycle long all month long. And so if you don't even know where it is in your in your cycle, then there's not really a way to know, like what they should be.Christina Smith:
Yeah, so this is actually really good for me right now as my period has like regulated so that I can tell like where I am going in my cycle. But before I could understand how that would have been really challenging for me when my period was sometimes like an 18 day cycle. And that was crazy. So maybe this is a good time for me to go to go get them tested again. Thank you so much for all this information. I don't think that we talk about these things enough. And I love that there's people like you out there to help women kind of get through it because there's a lot of women that don't talk to other women about about periods even and, or that it's too gross or crass. I don't know where we came up with this. It's just a normal thing. As we get older, we start talking about poop more. Why can't we talk about I mean, at least we do in my house.Ali Damron:
Yeah, no. And I think a lot of people just settle for like, Oh, this is just like what it is. It's normal. There's nothing we can do like we've just sort of like been ghastly in that way to to just kind of settle in with it and just put up with it. ButChristina Smith:
you're right if everybody else had to and that's how it was when I was young because when I when I was going through puberty the first time Um, you know, I had serious cramps and my mom was like, that's just kind of how it goes, it's gonna suck. Yeah, every month. And like, that was really it. There was like, take some Tylenol, call it a day, right? And and now that I'm looking at it, I'm like, why don't we know more? I'm sure there's got to be things that we could at least try right that we don't have to just accept that this is this is normal, right? We can Yes, we have to get through it. And we can also look at how we can support it. So if you are a woman, if you're listening, and you're a woman that is struggling with your period, whether that or maybe your daughter's struggling with a period ally might be the really a really great resource for you to go to. Thank you so much, Ali, for being here and talking about things that other people don't want to talk about. I'm sure that this is going to help a lot of women start feeling like oh, okay, so this is normal. And there's things I can do. Like both are true.Ali Damron:
Totally. And I have a lot of free resources. I have a YouTube channel, a podcast, a free free On Demand training on my website to that you can can listen to that kind of gives all these things in a nutshell too. So lots of lots of free stuff too.Christina Smith:
Awesome. I'll put some of those links below so that you can go connect with ally. And thank you listeners for tuning in. And thank you ally. Yeah, thank you. Y'all. If you enjoy this talk, then you need to sign up for the midlife Mojo Summit. We have over 25 speakers that are focused on mid life women. All of the sessions are all the things that we need in midlife, from relationships to physical health, inner wellness, to all those big dreams and purposes. We have over 25 speakers that are offering you their insight, their formulas, their ways to start moving forward so that we can make midlife the best life and the second half the better half. And I truly believe this is possible. That's why I've hand picked 27 speakers 27. Experts, authors coaches, in order for you to get the information that you need in midlife to make it the best life. Go sign up midlife Mojo summit.com Hey, one more thing. When we are all more confident and full of self love, we can act more intentionally and mindfully. What would a world like that look like? I want to know. One way that you can help me with this vision is to subscribe rate and review our podcast wherever you listen to it. It helps more than you know and it's just a few clicks to help me create a more beautiful world. And as always, remember to be gentle with your humaneness.