Menopause is a natural stage of life. It is a transition from the time when women menstruate, having the capability to reproduce, to a time when they no longer experience the monthly menstrual flow and are incapable of pregnancy. In technical terms, it happens when the ovaries no longer produce enough estrogen to properly stimulate the lining of the uterus and vagina. Medically, the word menopause simply means the permanent end of menstruation. It is derived from the Greek words for "month (men) and "cessation" (pauses)
. It has been said that there are three stages to the menopausal process..
- Pre-menopause: The first stage a percentage of women exhibit some, if not all, of the symptoms listed below. Approximately five years prior to menopause, the ovaries produce less estrogen. Periods become irregular and unpredictable.
- Menopause is the second-stage: When the ovaries are completely depleted of eggs, the estrogen levels plummet to an all time low, thereby unable to produce a period.
- Post-menopause:When a woman has gone a full cycle of twelve months without a period.
Hot Flashes: (Flushes): Are considered the most common symptom of menopause. Two thirds of all women experience hot flashes for months, sometimes years. When a woman is experiencing a hot flash, the skin becomes red and breaks out in a sweat. These actual sweats can last for half a minute to five minutes.
Irritability: Because of the ongoing process of hormonal changes, many women will experience mood changes. Among these emotional changes is an increased irritability.
Tinnitus: Many women report an increased ringing, buzzing, or whistling in the ears when no sound is present. Considered an annoying sensation, tinnitus is common among menopausal women.
Bleeding Gums: Because of the lower levels of estrogen, women experience changes in the oral cavity. Gum sensitivity is increased. Proper hygiene and oral supplementation are highly effective to maintaining integrity of the gums.
Mood Swings: Are known as emotional highs and lows. The fluctuating levels of estrogen and androgens (male hormones) during and after menopause cause many women to experience mood swings disproportionate to daily situations.
Dry Vaginal Canal: The lower levels of estrogen may cause the vaginal canal to become unusually dry, especially during intercourse. The lining of the vaginal walls becomes thinner, less flexible and susceptible to infection.
Bones Loss: Bone loss is a normal part of aging; however when women are experiencing menopause the bone loss rate is accelerated. The bones become fragile and tend to fracture easily. This is known as osteoporosis. Women are more susceptible than men to osteoporosis because of menopause. It is recommended that women strengthen her bones through diet, exercise and supplements to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The type of calcium and magnesium a woman selects can dictate the out come of their bone density.
Heart Attacks/Strokes: Scientist's previous thinking was that estrogen played a vital role in protecting women against heart failures and strokes. New data has come to light that this may not be the case. There are more effective ways to support the cardiovascular system. Diet, exercise, and quality supplementation are proven methods to combat these concerns.
Loss of Sex Drive: Hormonal fluctuations of estrogen and testosterone cause sex drive to plummet. Hormone therapy, either natural or synthetic, has proven to increase the sex drive in most women. It must be noted that not all women experience all of these symptoms and that they may change with time.
It must be noted that not all women experience all of these symptoms. Fortunately due to fabulous books written by Christiane Northrup, M.D., the way women view menopause and the experiences they encounter during this transition are embraced with love, appreciation and a greater understanding of the universal laws of nature.
HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY INFORMATION
KNOWN: A woman's body naturally produces estrogen and progesterone. The estrogen is actually a combination of 3 estrogens: estrone (10%), estradiol (10%), and estriol (80%).
KNOWN: The recent NIH study showed that the combination of hormones Premarin (estrogens) and Provera (progestin) posed an increased health risks. Further studies are now being done on Premarin alone.
UNKNOWN: Whether Premarin alone will show the same increased health risks. This arm of the study is continuing.
KNOWN: Premarin is made up of several estrogens (including estrone) derived from pregnant mare's urine.
KNOWN: Provera (medroxyprogesterone) is a synthetic form of progesterone. Although this progestin has the same protective effects on the uterus, its other actions and side effects are very different than progesterone.
KNOWN: Several other estrogens are commercially available by prescriptions including: Estradiol as tablets, patch and cream (ex: Estrace, Vivelle, Climara, others). . Theses estradiol products are bio-identical to one of the body's naturally secreted hormone.
UNKNOWN: If these estrogens pose the same increased health risks. These estrogens were not part of the study.
KNOWN: There are bio-identical custom estrogens available by prescription from a compounding pharmacy. Bio-identical hormones are derived from plants and altered in a lab to create estrone, estradiol and estriol (the 3 estrogens produced by a woman's body). They can be compounded in custom strengths as capsules, sublingual, topical creams, vaginal creams and suppositories.
- tri-est: estrone (10%), estradiol (10%), and estriol. (80%)
- bi-est: estradiol (20%), and estriol. (80%)
UNKNOWN: Limited information indicates these may be effective.
KNOWN: Bio-identical micronized progesterone is available in several forms:
- Commercially by prescription in capsules (Prometrium) and vaginal cream
- By prescription from compounding pharmacy in custom strengths as capsules, sublingual, topical creams, vaginal creams and suppositories.
- OTC (over the counter) topical cream containing Progesterone USP
KNOWN: Progesterone hormone balancing role goes beyond protecting the uterus during and after menopause. It takes a trained and experienced practitioner in the field of natural hormones to organize a program specifically for your individual needs.