“The Change”, that occurs in women is a natural progression of the aging but the symptoms don't have to be. The hormonal and reproductive changes that occur with menopause are something that come for most around age 51. These changes can happen earlier, during her 40’s, or even later in her 60s. Unlike the past, these days women have many options to reduce or limit these symptoms and bodily changes. The options range from synthetic and natural hormones to herbal and Chinese medicine options. To better understand these options, let's look at the biochemical changes occurring in menopause.
What is menopause?
A natural part of aging, menopause is when a woman stops ovulating and by default stops menstruating. When this happens she will no longer be able to conceive without medical intervention. Before actual menopause she may go through a process called perimenopause. This process starts a few months or years before menopause and is characterized by changing menstrual cycles and hormonal imbalance.
At first menstrual cycles can become much longer, much heavier, and more frequently. If this does occur, you will likely experience this in your middle to late 40"s. Often times anxiety and poor sleep occur along with these changes. Another part of perimenopause occurs just before the cycles stop completely. Typically menses will become less frequent, often stopping for a few months or simply with a longer gap between cycles. Actual menopause is signaled by having 12 consecutive months with no menses or by a measurement of Follicle Stimulating Hormone in the blood above 30. During menopause, the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body are rapidly fluctuating a lot more than normal. This is in part from the ovaries making less of these hormones and it is the fluctuation more so than decline that seems to cause some of the symptoms.
Symptoms of Menopause
There are a number of common symptoms associated with the menopause. These include:
hot flashes, irritability, trouble sleeping at night, night sweats, low mood, vaginal dryness, brain fog, weight gain, and reduced libido.
The severity and even presence of these symptoms can vary from woman to woman. Not every women will struggle with all these symptoms, and some apparently don't have any obvious symptoms.
If you are staring to have either the menopausal or perimenopausal symptoms there is no need for you to suffer. There are several treatment options ranging from completely synthetic to completely natural. Lets look at some of these options and the pros and cons of each.
Treatments for Menopause
As with any health issues the best thing you can do is start with a good foundation. That means diet and lifestyle. You cannot out medicate, or supplement a poor diet and lifestyle. Let me be a little more specific about what I mean by lifestyle. Do you have a technique, tool, or go to plan when you are feeling more stress? Does this plan help or hurt your health in general? Many hot flashes can be improved just by having a better stress buffer.
Do you exercise weekly, daily, monthly. Exercise helps almost every health condition. For menopausal symptoms it can help with energy, weight, and somewhat hot flashes too. Diet can have a big impact on weight and energy too. Many women find that eating for a more balanced blood sugar (less carbs and more protein or fats) is helpful for reducing hot flashes. Also consider the impact of spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol on your hot flashes. The thing to keep in mind is that the lifestyle things will manage any other intervention you do much more effective. If you are already in good shape with lifestyle it is time to look at some higher level interventions.
The conventional treatment approach for hot flashes and menopause in general, is to replace estrogen with a synthetic form, Premarin. This synthetic, horse estrogen based product is much stronger than the estrogen natural to a females body. It is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer of the female organs. The upside for this treatment is that it does work and typically is covered by insurance.
However, there are other estrogen based products that don't carry the same risks as the synthetic. Bioidentical hormone therapy or BHRT uses hormones that are identical to the ones that your body is use to using. The formula of hormones used can be customized to your symptoms and levels of hormones as well. This allows the treatment to be tailored more directly to you using many different hormones like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, and pregnanalone. Research has shown that this bioidentical form of hormone replacement therapy is very beneficial and safer.
Some women are happy to turn to HRT to help the symptoms of menopause there are other natural options also available. Women can take control of their menopause and choose how they would prefer to alleviate their symptoms.
From our office in Phoenix, bioidentical hormones and other holistic approaches to all health ailments are available. These include hormone replacement therapy for both females and males. We would love to discuss all the treatments that we offer, so get in touch and arrange a free consultation today.