Menopause. Need we say more? There is probably no other phase of a woman’s life that elicits such a variety of responses. But being a believer in positive energy this will focus on love and the joys of menopause and it affects a woman’s life.
Being a woman who, for many years, has had a harder time with menstrual cycles, I’ve looked at menopause as the golden land. But as you may have heard, or discovered, menopause can be a very trying time and a less than golden time in life. However, menopause isn’t just a 3 to 10 year process. It’s important to look at menopause as the third stage of womanhood. First we are pre-pubescent, and then we have our menstrual or fertile years, followed by the menopausal years. Menopause is defined as the time in a woman’s life in which the menstrual cycle ends. In many cultures a woman who has passed from her fertile years into menopause is now at the age of wisdom and enlightenment and is to be honored and treated with great respect and awe. In the United States we don’t exactly give women this respect, nor do women themselves give their bodies and minds this great respect. Women tend to cringe and feel that this is the end of youth. I really think that youth ends when you move from the days of summer vacation to working in the summer!
Let’s look at the major concerns during menopause and some of the common treatments that affect a woman’s health and well being. When a woman is in her 40s and 50s, she can be in a time of life some describe as peri-menopause. At this point she may, or may not, experience symptoms. By the age of 50 it is not uncommon for a woman to stop having her menstrual cycle. At this time, and even before, there is a decline in the production of estrogen and progesterone, Testosterone, HGH, DHEA, Pregnolone and Melatonin, to name a few. If you take a look at these hormones, you may see why women stop sleeping quite as well, and may have a decreased libido.
During menopause, you might also see a rise in your cholesterol. Cholesterol is the building block of hormones and can be adversely affected when your hormones are not balanced properly or you are going into menopause. Your body is still producing the same level of cholesterol, but less is turned into hormones resulting in higher levels of cholesterol. Women will want to consider their hormonal symptoms before simply accepting a statin to lower cholesterol, which can have major side effects and isn’t treating the cause of the problem.
Let’s look at estrogen. What does it do and what happens when our estrogen levels drop? Estrogen has many effects and they include breast fullness, clarity of mind, vaginal lubrication, mood stabilization, heart protection, brain modulation as well as bone function and growth. It also has a great deal to do with female pride, vitality and sensuality. While it isn’t involved in passion or orgasm, it does help build the feminine essence that is woman.
There are 3 types of estrogens:
- E1 Estrone
- E2 Estradiol
- E3 Estriol
E2 is what is taken in Prempro and many other hormone replacement pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately this is made out of a horse hormone and is not identical to what is actually in the human body. This can cause a lot of side effects, which have deterred women from seeking hormonal care.
Symptoms of estrogen deficiency include:
- Mental fogginess and forgetfulness
- Depression and anxiety
- Mood changes
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Decreased libido and painful sex
- Loss of skin radiance
- Dry skin, eyes and vagina
- Rapid heartbeat episodes without anxiety
- Gastro-intestinal discomfort
- Daylong fatigue
Excess estrogen can occur in someone who is on hormone replacement therapy. Symptoms include:
- Breast tenderness
- Water retention and weight gain
- Impatient and snappy behavior
- Pelvic cramps
The most common symptoms of menopause are foggy brain, hot flashes, inability to sleep and emotional instability. These can all be symptoms that make women suddenly feel-isolated from their families and other people around them. Sleep disruption can also lead to stress about not sleeping and causing anxiety.
The symptoms of menopause are treatable and start with assessing hormone levels. A blood test can measure the basics such as FSH, SHBG, Estradiol, Estriol, Testosterone, DHEA and Progesterone. Many physicians are reluctant to do such testing, because there are few pharmaceutical treatment options. However, there are options!
It’s possible to use plant estrogen and progesterone and other herbals that actually help to stimulate the woman’s own body to make more hormones and to balance them as well. Then next option would be bio-identical hormones that are usually created with your doctor and a compounding pharmacy and these can be quite helpful in returning a patient to optimal health. The last option is conventional hormone replacement, which doesn’t mimic your body and doesn’t balance as well but may be the option you need. If this is the only option that works for you, please talk to one of our doctors about supplements so we can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other side-effects.
Menopause really is a golden time. Please feel free to call and talk to one of our doctors about your options for hormones and improving your health.