Most women will remember hearing their mother, grandmother or aunt and their friends talking in hushed voices about “the change of life” and quietly cursing it as “something a woman has to put up with”. What were they talking about?
Thankfully times have progressed since our grandmother’s day and women’s health issues such as menopause are widely and openly discussed. Even so, very often the only facts that a woman knows about menopause in advance is that one day her menstrual cycle will cease and she may get some ”hot flashes”.
In her ground-breaking book “The Sexy Years”, Suzanne Somers covers in depth, menopause, its symptoms and she reports on natural solutions. She relates in a funny way how “one day in mid-life the Seven Dwarfs of Menopause showed up at my door – Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful and All-Dried-Up.” Like many women, she knew that the menopause was coming but had no clue what to expect.
Suzanne was lucky enough to find the answer to her prayers which finally “sent the Seven Dwarfs packing” – she was directed to Bioidentical (Natural) Hormone Replacement Therapy and she is now one of the leading advocates for it.
The Three Stages of Menopause – Do you fall into one of them?
There is a stage of life leading up to Menopause called Perimenopause and a stage of life when Menopause is finished called Post-menopause.
Menopause itself is also a stage and seldom occurs overnight. For lots of women it happens in their 50’s to 60’s. Recent studies and research are reporting that today’s women are beginning menopause earlier possibly due to taking having taken birth control pills (synthetic hormones), eating synthetic hormone laden meats and eggs, and living very stressful lifestyles, or it can be brought on earlier by surgical intervention.
All women transition through these three phases and with menopause occurring earlier for many women, the first phase is logically pushed earlier as well.
Perimenopause (or pre-menopause), usually thought to start in one’s 40’s, now often starts in one’s 30’s. This phase is marked by decreased production of estrogen and progesterone and irregular periods. A popular misconception is that menopause symptoms don’t start until a woman has no periods. In reality, the hormonal changes that begin in perimenopause can result in menopause symptoms like hot flashes, weight gain, insomnia, fatigue and mood swings.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (also called natural hormone replacement therapy) offers a solution to menopause symptoms and can be very helpful in relieving symptoms during perimenopause and make this transition phase more comfortable.
Following perimenopause, menopause actually begins when a woman has not had a menstrual period for one year.
A woman is born with a finite number of eggs, usually around 1.3 million, which are stored in her ovaries. At the time of a girl’s first period, the number is down to about 400,000 and by the time a woman starts menopause it may be down to less than 10,000.
The ovaries also produce estrogen and progesterone, which regulate menstruation and ovulation. Menopause happens when the ovaries are depleted of all their eggs and no amount of stimulating hormones can force them to work. The ovaries dramatically reduce their production of estrogen. Estrogen has effects on a variety of body organs, including blood vessels, heart, bone, breasts, uterus, urinary system, skin and brain.
At this time, the ovaries also may decrease their production of testosterone, a hormone involved in the libido or sexual drive.
It is believed that the loss of estrogen, testosterone and change in progesterone levels are the cause the menopause symptoms. And the changes in these hormone levels are what also cause the symptoms a woman may experience in perimenopause.
In a fully healthy female body, the glands in the endocrine system (adrenal glands, pituitary gland, and the thyroid) work in coordination to produce the hormones needed for a smooth, symptom free transition into perimenopause and then menopause. A fully healthy body is difficult to achieve in today’s world with so many toxins in the food, water and air as well as the increased daily stress and little exercise. Consequently, there is a very large number of women suffering from menopause symptoms.
Not for nothing has this phase traditionally been called “the change of life”. It often marks a time when many women feel that they have lost control of their own bodies as a range of unpleasant symptoms such as hot flashes and weight gain, threatens to take over their lives, symptoms which may have started in perimenopause.
Many women experience great benefit from Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy – natural hormone replacement.
Post menopause is the final phase when most of the distress of menopause symptoms has faded and in many cases, ceased completely. Energy returns and emotions return to normal without the mood swings. During this phase additional health concerns turn to prevention of Osteoporosis and heart disease.
Post menopausal measures for good health should be a continuation of pre-menopausal strategies, i.e. a nutritious diet containing calcium-rich foods and a regular routine of weight-bearing exercise. Continuing Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy or natural remedies are recommended for any lingering menopause symptoms, and getting regular Well Woman exams, including checking bone density and heart health.
What is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)?
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT), also called natural hormone replacement therapy, is the supplemental use of Bioidentical hormones (estrogen, progesterone and/or testosterone) to replace and balance one’s hormones to help relieve menopause, perimenopause or post menopause symptoms.
Bioidentical hormones are exactly the same, “identical” hormones, molecule per molecule that the body produces. They come from plant sources, but are still considered natural to the body because they are identical biologically to female hormones and so they help women rebalance hormone levels in a safe and natural way.
Imbalanced hormone levels can become increasingly complex, because sometimes the level of a hormone is not as important as its ratio to the other hormones. This is why conversations with a healthcare practitioner will be about “balancing” hormones rather than merely increasing them.
Conversely, synthetic hormone drugs do not mimic your body’s natural hormones. They mainly turn off menopause symptoms rather than rebalancing hormone levels and recent studies have shown synthetic hormones can significantly increase the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks, and strokes.
The Three Steps in the BHRT Process
Step One: Get a Hormone Analysis.
The first visit usually lasts an hour or so. The healthcare practitioner will (a) discuss with the patient what they are experiencing and answer all questions, (b) do a full review of the medical history and (c) order a hormone analysis in the form of a Lab Test to learn hormone levels. (This test may be from a blood, saliva, or urine sample).
The hormone test results will give the precise measurements of the following types of hormones; estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, adrenals and thyroid. Depletion of, or an imbalance between any of these hormones can result in many menopause symptoms and balancing the levels results in their relief.
Step 2: Receive Your Prescription and Program
After reviewing the test results, the healthcare practitioner will review the results with the patient and discuss the choices available so that she can make informed decisions about her hormonal requirements.
Ideal hormone levels depend on your height, weight, genetic inheritance, diet, metabolic rate, daily stress, body composition, exposure to environmental toxins, protein synthesis, and other factors – all of which vary from woman to woman.
An individualized program is then created. If the patient chooses BHRT, the program will include a prescription with individualized compounded doses of bioidentical hormones rather than “one dose fits all” approach of conventional hormone replacement therapy. It will be tailored specifically to fit you. Although Bioidentical (natural) hormones are not drugs, the prescription will need to be filled at a compounding pharmacy.
Step 3. Track the Results and Continue To Communicate with Your Healthcare Practitioner.
Many women find they get relief from their symptoms almost immediately and it is important to track progress and work closely with your healthcare practitioner. After three months, one makes a return visit to once again measure your hormone levels, moving closer toward your ideal balance.
For the best results, it is recommended that a woman get a baseline hormone level test when she is younger and in peak health. This provides a benchmark and greatly assists in rapidly balancing a patient’s hormone levels later in life when symptoms start to occur.
For most women, finding ways to resolve a range of persistent menopause symptoms can be overwhelming. LifeWorks Wellness Center has been helping women relieve their menopause symptoms with Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy for over 10 years and is committed to providing very personalized treatment, empowering female patients to resolve transitional menopause symptoms.
Evaluation, testing and correct safe treatment for menopausal issues is the goal at LifeWorks and this encompasses minimal natural hormone replacement, maximum effect and minimal risk.
Not all natural solutions for menopause symptoms involve Bioidentical hormones. LifeWorks practitioners are happy to discuss and recommend a number of natural supplements which will help to support the body during all three phases of the menopause years to help re-gain a pre-menopausal life again.
Call for 727 466 6789 for more information or an appointment
Sue Morgan A.R.N.P., has an emphasis on women’s health and she heads LifeWorks’ cutting-edge protocols.
Most women can name five or six of the best-known menopause symptoms but very few are aware that there are officially 35 symptoms that may affect perimenopausal and menopausal women.
- Hot flashes
- Weight gain
- Mood swings
- Energy loss
- Thinning hair
- Night sweats
- Loss of libido
- Irregular periods
- Irregular heartbeat
- Vaginal dryness
- Feelings of dread and doom
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lapses of memory
- Itchy, crawly skin
- Aching joints and muscles
- Increased tension in muscles
- Breast tenderness
- Increase in headache
- Indigestion, flatulence, nausea
- Sudden bouts of bloat
- Exacerbation of existing conditions
- Increased allergic reactions
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Changes in body odor
- Electric shock sensation under the skin
- Tingling in the extremities
- Gum problems, increased bleeding
- Burning tongue and change in breath odor
- Softer, weaker fingernails
- Tinnitus: ringing in ears