Feeling good after 40
Are you in your 40s and unsure what to expect in life's next stages? Have you been told hormone replacement therapy is dangerous or risky?
I'm Katy, the co-founder of Joi and a mom of two who struggled through a five-year fertility journey starting in my late 30s. When I could finally come up for air and work on some much-needed self-care, I found myself in a new, yet disenchanting place. As lonely as I felt going through fertility struggles, I felt even more alone in understanding what would come next.
After 15 years on the pill, several months of fertility drugs and procedures, 30 months of pregnancy, and two years of breastfeeding—my hormones were more confused than I was. Did I expect them to bounce back to 'normal levels?' What was normal, anyway? With two young kiddos, I'm pretty sure 'normal' meant feeling and looking not how I used to.
Or so I thought.
I am not medically trained and am not trying to advise anyone else on what decisions to make. But as I progress through my journey with hormone optimization and peptide therapies, I want to share my story in hopes of helping other women along the way.
My path to treatment actually started with threatening my husband with divorce if he didn't fix his issue—he wasn't interested in any intimacy. After a long and bumpy road, he finally was able to understand that through the stress of our fertility struggles, his testosterone tanked. While I was busy making up a story that I wasn't attractive enough for him, it turned out it wasn't about me at all. Long story short, my husband did get the help and the testosterone replacement that our marriage so desperately needed. His transformation was life-changing for him and for us as a couple. At the time, I was still breastfeeding our son, but I knew that once I was finished, I, too, would get my levels checked and see what the right treatment plan might do for me.
So, here I am with the normal wear and tear that 43 years puts on a body, feeling better than I have in a long time, with more muscle tone than I have ever been able to achieve previously, at a weight that I didn't think I could get back to. I'm in the thick of it, trying to have it all with two small kids and a start-up business, navigating all the stress it brings.
How did I get here?
Determination, self-care, and therapies that work. I started with everything we are normally told to do: eating healthy and moving my body. I've always been one to know the importance of incorporating these things into my lifestyle. But, being busy and stressed, I really only have time to dedicate about 20 minutes a day to my workouts and cooking healthy meals.
I started with a 100+ marker comprehensive lab panel to go deep into how all of my systems were working and determine what needed attention. My biggest surprise was learning that my testosterone was almost non-existent. My level was 14 ng/dl compared to the recommendation of 100-300 ng/dl. Wild! I started hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with a cream, which I thought would be my preferred application method. In a few months, I had increased my T level to the mid-40s. With a long ways to go, I switched to injections (it's not as scary as it sounds), and at my most recent check-in, my levels had surpassed 100 ng/dl.
In addition to the HRT, I went all-in on peptide therapies—anything to optimize the body, right? Among my favorites: Semaglutide for reduced cravings and blood sugar regulation, whole-body anti-aging tablets, BPC-157 for gut health, NAD+ for energy and cellular repair, Semax for mental clarity, and GKU-Cu face cream skin anti-aging. The results are incredible. I hit my goal weight, have more energy, my workouts are more fun, and my libido is back on (after my second birth, my interest tanked). My vitality has improved, and it's helped to clear up my 'mommy brain.' I'm currently diving deep into estrogen dominance, which is also pretty common for women my age.
The tremendous success that my husband and I have experienced with these unique therapies prompted us to start our virtual health and wellness companies—Joi and Blokes—so that we can help others with similar issues and experiences to ours. We are learning a lot as we go, and I personally keep coming back to the feeling that women are not supported after childbirth. It seems to be a mystery—something that we just have to suffer through alone. What's even crazier is that a lot of today's misconceptions about HRT result from a study that came out decades ago and has since been proven false. I would love for us to clear this up once and for all so women's health care options can expand.
If you're not familiar with the study I am referencing, here's the deal: In 2002, the Women's Health Initiative came out with a study that hormone replacement therapy for women is dangerous. More specifically, the study stated that HRT causes an increased risk of breast and endometrial cancer. The media widely distributed this study, and it's been accepted ever since. HRT for women tanked, and we went back to just grinning and bearing the symptoms and issues of perimenopause and menopause. The study has since been debunked due to several issues:
- The hormones used were synthetic (instead of the bioidentical versions we use today).
- Many lifestyles and other issues were not accounted for (i.e. ages of participants skewed high, and many were former smokers).
- The focus of the study was disease prevention versus the reason you actually take HRT, which is the treatment of symptoms.
In 2013, the International Menopause Society came out with a global statement saying that HRT is the most effective treatment for symptoms of menopause, that the benefits are most likely to outweigh any risks, and that risks are generally small. Furthermore, HRT benefits bone health and may decrease mortality and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, this good news was not widely covered, so the myth of HRT being dangerous is still widely believed.
I want to change that. Joi wants to change that. You could even say our life—or our best life—depends on it.
Here is the truth.
Women start menopause on average at age 51. They say perimenopause symptoms usually begin a decade before that. During this time, our ovaries stop making estrogen and progesterone, two hormones needed for fertility. And a whole host of other things.
Estrogen helps almost every organ system (no big deal). It keeps your cardiovascular tissue healthy and helps keep blood pressure stable. It protects your brain by maintaining proper blood flow, it protects against inflammation and disease, and it assists with memory and fine motor skills. It also improves your muscle mass and bone density, boosts your mood, and improves your sex life. Ladies, we NEED estrogen!
Progesterone, on the other hand, eases anxiety and the ability to handle stress, helps with memory, helps to prevent certain types of cell growth (cancer), assists in proper thyroid gland function, helps slow the aging process, reduces or eliminates migraines, and reduces inflammation and joint pain. Ladies, we NEED progesterone!
And then there's testosterone. "T" increases our libido and satisfaction and helps with mood, weight gain, brain fog, motivation, muscle tone, and more. And guess what? Ladies, we NEED testosterone!
Our aging accelerates rapidly when all of our hormones change drastically through these two major life stages. We lose skin firmness (30 percent in five years), muscle tone, and bone density. We have hot flashes, vaginal changes, and trouble sleeping. We are also at increased risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, high cholesterol, and Alzheimer's.
One hundred years ago, when our average life expectancy was 49, menopause wasn't much to worry about. But at 43, I feel like I have many good years left to live out, and I plan to do it with energy and vitality. And I'm hoping to take as many women with me as possible.
If you're interested in learning more about my journey and what Joi Women's Wellness can do for you, shoot me an email at email@example.com. I love meeting new women, sharing stories, and helping a sister out.