Menopause marks the permanent end of fertility for women. It is the period of time in a woman’s life when she stops menstruating and is a time of major hormonal change. Physical and psychological changes occur although menopausal symptoms vary from woman to woman. Menopause results from inadequate ovarian function, and is generally due to the aging process. This results in the loss of estrogen and other hormones which accelerates both physical and mental decline. Natural menopause is typically diagnosed after a woman has not had a period for 1 year. Surgical menopause occurs at the time of a complete hysterectomy. In some cases it is harder to know if a woman is in menopause, because she may have had a partial hysterectomy or a uterine ablation. In both cases menstruation does not occur, but the ovaries still may be functioning. It is important to evaluate ovarian function in these women by additional means such as taking an in depth history and assessing FSH/LH levels.
Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45-55 with the average age of menopause for women in the US occurring at age 51. It is influenced by many factors. Genetics plays a big role in reproductive health for women. Women should ask their mothers about their menopausal transition if they are living to get an idea of what they may expect. Anything that damages the ovaries or stops estrogen production can cause menopause to occur earlier. These include: smoking, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery to remove the ovaries. Women with thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto’s disease or autoimmune disorder tend to go through menopause earlier than others.
Here are the physical symptoms of menopause:
- Redistribution in body weight, fat shifts from hips, thighs, and buttocks to midsection
- Loss of muscle mass
- Gum & tooth loss
- Vaginal dryness, dry eyes
- Hot flashes
- Decreased immune function-allergens
- Night sweats
- Elevated blood pressure
- Insulin resistance
- Metabolism decreases
- Joint pain
- Thinning hair and dry skin
- Bloating, digestive problems
- Loss of breast fullness
Here are the psychological symptoms of menopause.
One of the most well-known symptoms of menopause is hot flashes. A hot flash is a sudden feeling of warmth, which is often accompanied by a reddening of the skin. Hot flashes can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, and they can occur at any time of day or night. Some women only experience a few hot flashes per week, while others may have them several times per day.
Night sweats are another common symptom of menopause. They’re very similar to hot flashes, but they tend to happen at night while you’re sleeping. As a result, night sweats can disrupt your sleep and leave you feeling exhausted during the day. If you’re experiencing night sweats, it’s important to talk to your doctor so they can help you find ways to manage them.
Vaginal dryness is another symptom that can occur during menopause. The lack of estrogen during this time can cause the vaginal tissues to thin and become less lubricated. This can lead to discomfort during sex, as well as an increased risk of vaginal infections. If you’re experiencing vaginal dryness, there are treatments available that can help. Talk to your doctor about your options.
Another common symptom of menopause is sleep disturbances. This can include difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night, or feeling unrested when you wake up in the morning. If you are having trouble sleeping, try to establish a regular sleep schedule and avoid working or using electronic devices in bed. You should also avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
Due to the hormonal changes that occur during menopause, you may also experience mood changes such as irritability, anxiety, or depression. If you are feeling particularly down, it may be helpful to talk to your doctor or a therapist. You should also consider joining a support group for women who are going through similar changes.
Some women try to use home remedies to manage symptoms of menopause, but the only way to get your hormones back up to therapeutic levels is to supplement with hormone therapy.
- Relief from Menopausal Symptoms: The most common reason why women take HRT is to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood swings. HRT is often effective in reducing or eliminating these symptoms.
- Prevention of Osteoporosis: HRT can also help prevent osteoporosis by increasing bone density. This is especially important for women who are at high risk for osteoporosis due to factors such as family history, smoking cigarettes, and having a small frame.
- Reduction of Heart Disease Risk: studies have shown that HRT reduces the risk of heart disease in menopausal women.
- Improvement in Cognitive Function: Research has found that HRT improves cognitive function in menopausal women. This includes memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills. Women that have been on estradiol therapy for 10 years or more have a five-fold decrease in the rate of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Treatment of Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause (GSM): GSM is a group of symptoms that can occur when estrogen levels decline during menopause. These symptoms include vaginal dryness, itching, burning, pain during intercourse, and urinary incontinence. HRT can effectively treat these symptoms by increasing estradiol levels in the body.
Menopausal therapy helps to address these symptoms by using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to restore therapeutic estrogen levels in the body after they have declined due to menopause. This carefully managed therapy can help to minimize unpleasant symptoms so that women can feel their best during this transitional phase. HRT replaces the hormones that are no longer being produced by the ovaries. It is most effective when started at the time of menopause.
At Tier1 Health & Wellness, we treat menopausal women with the following:
Without estradiol, women deteriorate rapidly in many ways. We need all of our hormones to feel and function our best, but estradiol is the most important due to the protective effects it has on the cardiovascular system and bone density. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women, and 40% of women will die within 2 years of an osteoporotic fracture. Estradiol makes it possible for women to lose weight after menopause, especially visceral body fat, which is the dangerous fat that surrounds our organs and releases inflammatory cytokines.
Oral estradiol provides the most cardiovascular protection due to the first pass effect of the liver. Oral estradiol improves clotting factors, decreases LDL, has a positive effect on vessels, reduces blood pressure, increases nitric oxide production, and exhibits antioxidant effects. Estradiol increases build up of the uterine lining and requires an adequate amount of progesterone to prevent the uterine lining from becoming too thick. If postmenopausal women with a uterus are not given adequate progesterone while on estradiol, they may develop endometrial hyperplasia- thickening of the endometrial wall which can lead to endometrial cancer. When this occurs, women may experience spotting or bleeding. Inadequate opposition of estradiol with progesterone can lead to PMS type symptoms: breast tenderness, bloating, irritability
A sublingual troche or a rapid dissolve triturate provide the best absorption and produce the most therapeutic levels. It was once believed that only women with a uterus needed progesterone because of the protective effects it has on the uterus. However, progesterone provides many more positive benefits than uterine protection. Progesterone is a calming mood stabilizing hormone that also offers protection against breast cancer. Many women experience mood swings, anxiety, irritability, and depression after menopause. Progesterone can be very effective in treating those issues. It also has a positive effect on vasculature and bone.
Testosterone helps us build and retain lean muscle, and lowers insulin resistance so that we can more easily burn fat. Testosterone lowers cholesterol levels, and reduces blood pressure. It improves mental clarity and decision making. Testosterone helps with collagen production improving tone and texture of the skin. Testosterone strengthens bones, improves endurance ( by raising RBCs), improves mood and improves sexual function. Testosterone destroys breast cancer cells and is FDA approved to treat breast cancer.
Optimized thyroid hormone can increase your energy levels, improve metabolism and make it easier to lose weight, reduce hair loss, improve your skin and nail health, give you better bowel movements, decrease anxiety and depression, give you better temperature regulation, regulate the menstrual cycle, and lower cholesterol levels.
Yes! Every woman needs it. In order to maintain health, strength, energy, libido, vitality, and many other factors, hormone optimization is a must. When hormones are replaced to optimal levels we experience a much higher quality of life.