Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy for Women
The signs and effects of the menopause transition can begin as early as age 35, although most women become aware of the transition in their mid to late 40s. Normally lasting for several years, its duration varies for every woman, and its course is impossible to predict. During perimenopause, which can last 4-6 years and usually ends after twelve months of amenorrhea, a woman’s menstrual cycle becomes irregular and varied, and fertility becomes diminished.
Menopause is considered to a period in a woman’s life when she has reached menopause when a full year has passed since her last menstrual cycle.
Natural menopause is a condition that every healthy woman will experience as she reaches middle age, typically between the ages of 35-59. It is a natural, gradual process that occurs when a woman’s ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone, and her lifetime supply of eggs becomes depleted.
Perimenopause describes the time when a woman’s body transitions from her fertile, child-bearing years into middle age. During this natural transition, the body undergoes biologic changes resulting from declining ovarian hormone production.
There are many symptoms that women, who are going through menopause and perimenopause, experience. However, every woman’s experience is different.
Women experience some, if not all of the following symptoms:
Hot flashes are a very common symptom for women as they enter menopause. They can be experienced during the day and or at night. The estrogen levels produced by the ovaries decrease during this time and the surging waves of heat in the daytime cause flushed red skin. Hot flashes during the night can result in sudden rushes of heat waves causing intense sweating.
Night sweats are usually more intense than hot flashes, and women can experience symptoms ranging from server to mild all with varied duration periods. Depending on the intensity night sweats, it can be accompanied by chills, nausea, headaches or an irregular heartbeat. This causes disruption in sleep patterns.
Irritability and mood swings are a result of an intense imbalance of hormones greatly affecting the level of Serotonin in the brain which is responsible for the stability of emotions. Estrogen has direct influence on the amount of Serotonin produced. Mood swings and depression can be experienced due to the drops in Estrogen levels that are responsible for production of serotonin the mood regulating hormone in the brain. It is a state of sadness, foggy thinking, fluctuation of appetite, loss of sleep and feelings that produce thoughts of suicide.
Loss of Libido
Loss of libido is the decrease in the desire to be sexually active. The drop in Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone levels are the hormones responsible for lower energy and decreased sex drive. Arousal and orgasm are still possible, yet the hormonal imbalance that occurs during this shift into menopause can cause the vaginal wall to become dry and irritated further exacerbating the lack of desire to be sexual. All of which can have a psychological impact as well.
Estrogen is the hormone that helps create an environment in the vagina that is moist and the vaginal wall is thick and elastic. During menopause, the levels of estrogen decrease, causing thinning of vaginal walls, resulting in less lubrication and elasticity. This can increase irritation, itching and pain, resulting in a decreased desire to engage in intercourse.
Irregular Heart Beat
Any guess what hormone is responsible for the symptoms of an irregular heart beat? You got it; estrogen. Estrogen levels fluctuate and have correlation to the cholesterol levels in the blood, as well as the fluctuation of blood pressure affecting the vasodilatation of the arteries and affecting the autonomous nervous system that regulates the heartbeat. Fatigue, anxiety, and more
Urinary urgency & Incontinence
Urinary urgency and incontinence is the inability to keep urine in the bladder during sneezing, laughing, or coughing. Estrogen is the hormone that helps with the strength of the bladder muscles. As estrogen decreases during menopause, so does control of the bladder. Incontinence includes feelings of constant need to urinate due to an overactive or oversensitive bladder. Another form of incontinence is a bladder that doesn’t empty completely and dribbling occurs.
Insomnia is a symptom and is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for a long enough time to feel rested and rejuvenated. Night sweats or other accompanied symptoms of menopause such as bizarre dreams or incontinence can contribute to insomnia.
Disorientation can make one feel like one is out of touch with their surroundings. Often this symptom is directly related to feeling dizzy and light-headed. Some experience vertigo, which is a constant spinning sensation, or light-headed feeling when one stands up too fast.
Anxiety is a state of being worried, fearful, on edge, uneasy, worried, or feeling a sense of urgency, and is often out of proportion to the event that initiates the response. Estrogen levels affect the brain chemistry directly related to mood and emotions.
This is just a short list and description of the most common symptoms women often experience through perimenopause and menopause. Because there is a large number of symptoms women experience, it is usually best to bring each of your symptoms up to your physician to be reviewed and discussed.
Women may express to their physician a large variety of symptoms in addition to the typical symptoms of menopause and perimenopause.
Some of the additional symptoms which they may be experiencing are:
- Foggy Memory
- Irregular Periods (usually experienced during perimenopause)
- Difficulty Concentrating or Mental Confusion
- Weight Gain (or the inability to lose weight and keep it off)
- Aching Muscles
- Digestive Problems
- High Blood Pressure
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please vocalize this to your physician so they can help you find an individualized treatment that helps relieve these issues and help prevent additional symptoms.
Perimenopause and menopause treatments focus on relieving your signs and symptoms, as well as preventing or lessening chronic conditions that may occur with aging.
Bioidentical Hormone Therapy using estrogen therapy remains, by far, the most effective treatment option for relieving menopausal hot flashes. Depending on your personal and family medical history, your doctor may recommend estrogen to provide symptom relief for you.