One Big Thing Women Can Do To Balance Their Hormones As They Age

Stress management is a key to hormonal balance.

Asian woman standing in the woods wearing a running hoodie Jacob Lund

High levels of stress can mess up your hormones at any age — and badly so. In particular, how does stress level affect a woman's hormones as she grows older?

A caveat to start: Stress is not always a bad thing. It is generated in our brains as part of the all-important survival response.

Survival is the most potent driving force in our brains, period. Stress changes most vital systems in our body. It is behind many diseases, ages us faster, and can even damage our genes. Therefore, it will affect hormones in many ways. 


Managing stress is the one thing women can do to help balance their hormones as they age.

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Stress and the aging process

Aging often brings added stress because it accumulates over time.

Our life’s stressful experiences add up if we don’t regularly do something about them. This piled-up stress can bring all kinds of health challenges on top of menopausal change.


Menopause brings a lot of trials for some women. Others have smoother transitions. But after menopause, the permanent changes can bring serious stress — especially if you are in a relationship with a man.

Your estrogen will be lower and your testosterone relatively higher. In some ways, you’ll react a little more “male.” You may be a bit less emotionally available and more assertive.

And that is just at a time when your man’s testosterone has been dropping over the years and he wants a warmer emotional connection.

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Diminished sex drive and stress

Less subtle will be other experiences many couples have after her menopause. She has less interest in sex or even men in general. She may have vaginal dryness and pain when being with him. At the same time, he wants more reassurance with sex, but his sex drive may have diminished, as well.


The couple becomes confused and deeply frustrated or angry. Stress levels grow in their home. This will further mess up both their hormones and make things worse in a vicious cycle.

Still, reducing your stress will allow you to think clearly and act more successfully. Therefore, managing stress through these life stages can bring many benefits for your relationship, well-being and health.

And beyond the special trials of menopause, what can you do in your daily life to keep stress at bay? What can you do to age gracefully from the perspective of managing your stress?

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Two vital elements of stress management

Genetics and neuroscience tell us that our bodies and brains are still 99 percent the same as they were during the Stone Age. Our genes change that slowly. Thinking about it in this way is surely new and a bit strange for us. To be honest, it took me a couple of years of research to wrap my mind around it.


Two vital elements of stress management are diet choices and moving our bodies.

What we eat affects stress levels

Our ancestors had no refrigerator full of prepared food. Three square meals a day is just a very recent invention. Our body was never built for that. And especially, it was never built for dieting by eating three smaller meals a day.

Eating small meals makes our Stone Age brain think we lack food. Then it will urge us to eat more and store more fat.

But this body of ours is built for eating one decent meal per day — or maybe two. Anything else will stress our metabolism and mess up our hormones.

Also, there was no sugar then. Sugar seriously stresses the metabolism and hormone system. It will be tough in the beginning, but learn to get sugar and sweets out of your home completely.


What to do: Eat good protein meals with healthy fats and heaps of veggies. Protein will help reduce sugar cravings immediately. And minimize prepared foods because they have so many chemicals including sugar and artificial sweeteners which are worse. 

You might also wish to explore intermittent fasting, which supports stabilizing hormone systems and has lots of other health benefits. Always consult your physician before making major dietary changes.

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Get up and move to manage stress

Over millions of years, our bodies and brains have been perfected for movement.

Sitting for extended periods is not natural for us. Our bodies don’t deal well with it. Our current civilization is challenging our physiology, especially combined with too much food in developed countries.


Muscles, tendons and bones tend to become weakened through a sedentary lifestyle. Heart health and circulation languish. Unused energy is stored as fat and our organs are overloaded. This opens the door to all kinds of malfunctions, and diseases, including getting hormones out of whack.

Regular and frequent short movement breaks during work and at home will get things more in balance. Spurts of more intense exercise will recreate the experience of hunting, fight or flight and build strength in muscles, organs and mind. Weight training especially will strengthen your hormone systems and help with aging gracefully.

If you didn’t move a lot and now decide to make a go of regular exercise, start out slowly to avoid injury. The secret is to be gentle with yourself. Constantly try a little more. Never give up. Your hormones and all your organs will be grateful.

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Other factors that influence stress levels

One of the strong predictors of longevity and healthy aging is being in the community. Again, this is our primordial need to be part of a band, tribe, or clan. We could never have survived otherwise. 

Access and exposure to nature and art also can reduce stress. In ancient times we lived in nature. Therefore, it has a powerful effect on our nervous system. Get out with friends and join an outdoor activity club.

You also may find deep peace and release stress by sitting in front of a great painting and meditating on it for half an hour or more. Others get similar benefits from immersing themselves in good music.

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Genetic implications of aging and stress

Do not think you are imprisoned by your genes. When hormonal problems, or any other health issues, run in your family do not be discouraged.

Family history can influence your ability to manage stress and balance your hormones in two ways.

First, you can be affected epigenetically. This means through learned habits and traditions. So, it is not genetic but an established way of family behavior, e.g., being very outspoken and “in-your-face."


That could escalate aggression and anger and lead to stress hormone spikes. This may reduce your estrogen and make you appear less feminine in this example.

Frequent elevated stress could also result in higher blood pressure.

A genetic trait passed along in a family could be genes for high blood pressure. The offspring who inherits the gene then tends to have that problem. This in turn can cause more stress, which affects the estrogen-testosterone balance.

Situations like this aren’t easy for you, and professional medical help may be essential. But a systematic and consistent program to manage the stress involved can and will make a positive difference.


While we cannot yet change our genes, gene expression is something we can influence. It will, however, need more commitment to the regular effort.

The one thing that will always help you be stronger and healthier is to manage your stress every single day. Persistence will make you successful beyond expectations.

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Fritz George Sauer, MS, is an expert and coach in science-based stress management, author, and experienced business manager and consultant. In his work, he shows how stress is far more destructive to personal and professional lives than commonly understood.