Humans are like all animals – we have an inborn need to re-create ourselves. For women, the period of recreation begins with menarche when we become old enough to be pregnant and ends with menopause when we can no longer have children. Menopause is welcomed by some women because we will no longer have monthly periods and dreaded by others as the official beginning of "old age". And it's true that there are many menopause symptoms that aren't so pleasant. But the notion that life is over and that we have to fall into the rocking chair, never to rise again, is simply total nonsense! What we need is personalized menopause treatment that is specifically for US – rather than 'one size fits all'.
Why Do The Symptoms Of Menopause Appear?
During the fertile time of life, women can get pregnant because eggs are produced in the ovary, which also produces the extremely powerful hormones progesterone and estrogen. Once the ovary stops producing eggs, hormone production slows. The woman can no longer become pregnant, she doesn't have periods and hormone production slows down, setting the stage for dramatic changes.
It's important to realize that women absolutely CAN get pregnant during the transition from child-bearing capabilities to completion of menopause. The transition time is referred to as perimenopause and menopause is completed when the woman hasn't had a period for one year.
The Two Stages of Menopause
We women don't simply spring from child-bearing to completed menopause in a few days. Instead, there are stages of menopause – two, in fact – but the word 'stage' is a sort of misnomer because these changes occur over time, slowly and gradually, and every woman's timetable is different.
Stage 1: Perimenopause
This is a very unstable period. Hormone levels are erratic and although the overall trend is downward, it's not a beautiful straight line but is all over the charts. Remember that it IS possible to get pregnant during this time, although it is unlikely. Women may remain in this stage for years!
Stage 2: Post Menopause
Menopause is declared finished when the woman has not had a period for 12 months. Estrogen and progesterone production from this point on will be very low.
Menopause & Perimenopause Symptoms
Hot Flashes And Menopause: Possibly the most famous symptom is hot flashes. You can be calmly and comfortably lunching with a friend or watching TV – and suddenly you are burning up and soaked with sweat! It's unnerving, extremely uncomfortable and causes you to spend a lot of time doing laundry. This is a part of the also famous "night sweats" when a woman wakes up in the night and her sheets and pajamas are soaked with sweat. Intense heat is generated and sweat flows in copious quantities. These 'spells' last anywhere from 30 seconds to ten minutes and can occur any time – even when being presented to her majesty, the Queen of England.
Menopause & Weight Gain: unfortunately, weight gain is a very common occurrence. Many say it's because we become more inactive at this age but I strongly dispute this assertion! One day I was thin and my clothes fit beautifully – the next day I could barely stuff myself in. When I say 'the next day' it literally seemed that way. My eating habits didn't change and I was as active as ever. And the classic result of this weight gain is that the weight piles on our tummies, which certainly happened to me. The hormones in our bodies have great power over our fat storage system, our metabolism and our appetite. Which is why teenagers with their hormone-rich bodies can eat tons of food and never gain weight, while as we age, a piece of cake can be a disaster.
Mood Swings: mood swings are another famous menopause symptom and they are due, of course, to changing hormones. Irritability and instant mood swings are common and a very trivial incident can quickly turn into a Big Deal. Depression can appear in the sunniest of women.
What Sex Life? Lots of formerly-sexy women simply lose interest. The libido declines and sex can even be painful. This is because the vaginal walls become thinner because of this decrease in hormones. The vagina is drier and more vulnerable to infections.
Urinary Incontinence: that's a fancy name for a humiliating problem – that is, you might cough or sneeze – and accidentally wet yourself. Just like the vagina, the lining of the urethra thins and urinary infections are much more likely.
"I'm Too Tired To Care": menopause often brings bone deep exhaustion. The slightest task can seem overwhelming and just getting up in a morning is a triumph.
Popular Menopause Remedies
Here are the standard "cures" for miserable hormone symptoms.
The most common treatment is ESTROGEN REPLACEMENT. These can be oral or vaginal suppositories to replace the estrogen we've lost as a result of menopause.
These can be extremely dangerous! They are NOT recommended. According to Dr, Holly Lucille here are some of the problems with too much estrogen:
Acceleration of the aging process
Autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and thyroiditis
Cervical dysplasia (abnormal cells on the bottom third of the cervix)
Cold hands and feet
Decreased sex drive
Irregular menstrual periods
Weight gain, especially around the abdomen, hips, and thighs
Certain DRUGS are commonly prescribed to menopausal women to combat hot flashes and other conditions like high blood pressure. Some examples are Clonidin (Catapres), Gabapentin (Neurotonin), and low-dose anti-depressants.
BIOIDENTICAL HORMONES: bioidentical hormones or natural hormone treatment refers to natural (usually plant-based) hormone substances that are nearly identical in structure and chemical composition to the hormones your body produces on its own. This sounds good, doesn't it? But the truth is that these principles have produced another set of drugs: like estrone, estradio, pharmacy-compounded products as well as testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and estriol l progesterone, which are available both in FDA-approved manufactured products and as which have not been approved for use in Canada and the United States. Bioidentical hormones may also present extra risks due to the process of compounding. In addition, the accuracy and efficacy of saliva testing has not been definitively proven, and the long-term effects of using blood testing to reach target levels of hormones has not been researched.
Is there a safe and healthy answer? Yes, indeed! See below for Part 2: My escape from menopause hell.