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It's Not You, It's Your Hormones: The essential guide for women over 40 to fight fat, fatigue and hormone havoc

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Broadly, PMS is to do with a dominance of oestrogen, while polycystic ovaries are related to too much testosterone." PCOS sufferers can have diabetes or pre-diabetes (insulin resistance), the condition that is linked to an excess of insulin, our blood sugar regulating hormone," adds the expert.

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Heat therapy has been appreciated for centuries all over the world for its wellbeing benefits. Red light therapy on the other hand is relatively new. It uses the power of infrared energy without heat (or very low levels) to rejuvenate your cells at the mitochondrial level. Fortunately there are many ways to get the benefits of both heat and light therapy. Anything that helps move oestrogen through the body and break it down is good," Burns-Hill advises. "Cabbage, Brussel sprouts and spinach, all have something called indoles – they help your body break down oestrogen and process it to softer, safer oestrogens. And add a daily green smoothie to your diet." Supplements We look outwards for a lot of solutions, but we need to get to know ourselves inside out," advises Burns-Hill. "Pay attention to what is going on within and let that be your guide – then recognise when things are changing and resolve to carry on." If you don't have access to saunas or hot springs, there are various products available on the market, including infrared home saunas, lamps, red light face masks and vaginal devices, sauna suits and blankets, amongst others. Make sure to choose reputable products from trusted sources. Unfortunately our reptile brain hasn’t caught up with our modern lifestyles, which is why now, more than ever before, we’re experiencing a rise in unbalanced hormones and the conditions it can cause, from fatigue and depression to infertility.

Sound familiar?

Getting our bodies moving is vital to a healthy lifestyle, but it’s finding the sweet spot between exercising enough and not overdoing it. Exercising too much can put stress on your body, but generally a mix of HIIT, weight training and cardio is a good way to boost your hormone health.

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We've heard all about the health benefits of cold therapy, but if that's not your thing, did you know that there's a whole host of benefits associated with heat and red light therapy?

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Supplements aren’t designed to make up for an unhealthy diet or lifestyle, but adding in a few things to help during difficult periods can make a real difference.

Hormones Podcast on Apple Podcasts ‎Happy Hormones Podcast on Apple Podcasts

Heavy periods are often a problem, because oestrogen is a hormone that makes the lining of the womb grow excessively. When you’re not trying to get pregnant this just causes heavy, sometimes debilitating periods, but when you are it can also wash out a conceptus (the embryo in the uterus in the very early stages of pregnancy) before it has a chance to implant properly. In this way it’s not that the woman is infertile, it’s just that her hormone imbalance is getting in the way of her body maintaining a successful pregnancy." For both conditions there are mental health symptoms too. Too much oestrogen can cause mood swings and depression, as well as reduced sex drive. The treatment for both is to be put on the pill, which isn’t a solution because it just regulates the cycle for the time you're taking it. When you come off pill, the symptoms return and if you then want to have a baby you might find you struggle with fertility," she says. Signs of hormonal imbalance The tell tale with a woman is the monthly cycle," says Burns-Hill. "If you’ve made real changes, give yourself a cycle to notice if things are improving. It won’t happen all at once but you should find your period doesn't feel quite as draining and heavy. Over a few cycles you should notice more improvements as well as better regularity and predictability.

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She adds: "To break down oestrogen you can get good-quality DIM or I3C supplements which can be beneficial." How will you know if your hormones are balancing out again? Alcohol can spike your oestrogen level to the power of three. And while a spike is temporary, if you keep drinking regularly then it’s having a long term impact on your residual levels," says Burns-Hill. Many things affect the delicate balance of our hormones including what we eat, our environment and how we feel emotionally. Most of the time our hormones just get on with it without us really noticing. It’s only when something goes wrong that we realise how important they are. Things like hair and skin, with polycystic ovaries, do take a little longer to respond, but pay attention to how you're feeling in yourself. Is your mood better? Are you finding it easier to lose weight?

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