They Call it the Change Because it is Life Changing.
It doesn't have to be this way.
Menopause is truly a life changing event, sure you hear things here and there but you never really have enough information before happens. Unfortunately by the time someone starts talking about it you’re already in it or through it. It’s really a mothers responsibility to talk with her daughters about this very important change that will occur later in their lives. Although it can vary often times what our mothers have experienced will likely be what their daughters go through. Sharing our experiences is the single most important thing we can do as a parent.
When we were young and entering into puberty most of us had sex education classes to inform us of what to expect. We were told how our bodies would change and how it would affect us. We learned about sex and how our hormones would drive our bodies in the coming years. At no time is there any information about what will happen when this process reverses itself. Women aren’t the only ones suffering with these changes. Men also are greatly affected as their hormones decline, (I will do another post soon on the affects of hormone decline in men). In this post we will talk about what women go through as their hormone levels decline in their late 40’s and 50’s and what can be done about it. Before we get into alternatives for menopause let’s take a look at the symptoms and facts.
First Stage - Peri-menopause
The first stage of menopause is called peri-menopause. As we age our ovaries release fewer FSH and LH so they can no longer perform their functions to regulate estrogen, progesterone and testosterone, which control menstruation and ovulation. The natural decline in your hormones will have a significant affect on your health in the coming years. This phase normally begins in your early 40’s but there are many cases where it can begin as early as your 30’s. The average age of menopause is 51 but there are reports of older women well into their 60’s. Menopause is not determined by age of our beginning menstruation as once thought. The number of children you have had and heredity seem to be the biggest factors of when your change will happen. These changes are subtle at first and little by little they increase. I think this is why so little is done in the early stages because the changes are so gradual and mount up over time. If we were more informed there would be things we could do at this stage before it escalates to the next phase. Here are a few of the symptoms you may experience as you enter this early stages of menopause. I don’t think there is anything on the list that you're like or want to keep.
- Hot Flashes
- Breast Tenderness
- Worsening of Premenstrual Symptoms
- Loss of Sex Drive
- Irregular Periods
- Vaginal Dryness
- Discomfort With Sex
- Leakage of Urine When Coughing or Sneezing
Signs Menopause is Getting Close
Ovulation normally occurs at the middle of your cycle and menstruation 2 weeks after that. As you close in on menopause your body will not follow this regular pattern as hormones start to decline. Periods may become longer, heavier and there may be spotting in between.
Menopause the Final Destination
And here we are at our final destination, menopause the ending of menstruation. Menopause is confirmed when a woman hasn’t had a period in 12 consecutive months. There is no set time when the symptoms of menopause will subside if ever. For information click the learn more tab below and while you are there enroll yourself in the menopause 101 class they offer.
Symptoms of Menopause
It's a lot to deal with!
Don't do it alone.
- Hot flashes - These sudden waves of heat are accompanied by sweating, reddening of the face and rapid heart beat. Hot flashes are often followed by a cold chill.
- Night Sweats - These are hot flashes that interfere with our sleep. It is not uncommon to become irritable due to this lack of sleep.
- Vaginal Atrophy - This is the cause of painful sex and decreased sensitivity. It is the actual drying out and thinning of the vaginal tissues due to the hormone deficiency.
- Sadness and Depression - Many women experience depression and a feeling of sadness.
- Sleep Disorders - These can vary some may be severe and not able to sleep at all while others will wake off and on throughout the night. One thing is for sure there will be some sort of sleep disturbance.
- Dry Hair
- Thinning Skin and Loss of Collagen
- Brain Fog
- Muscle Loss
- Bone Loss
Choosing the Right Treatment
The time has come for you to take responsibly for your own health and well being. Each of us must decide for ourselves the path we will take. Mainstream medicine will offer you sleeping pills for your lack of sleep and anti depressants for your mood. They may also give you an estrogen cream to use to preserve your vaginal tissues. All of these are bandaids on a much bigger issue at hand. Whether you apply estrogen topically to an area or not is beside the point. The issue is that taking estrogen in any form with out progesterone can be a dangerous thing. There are no studies to date that consider the adverse affects of how mainstream medicine treats menopause. Long term use of sleeping pills and anti-depressants are very serious business and will have an affect on your long term health. For more information tap the learn more button below.
Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement
There are several kinds of bio-identical hormone replacement therapies. The more primitive form involves creams that you put on your skin at different times of the day depending on the stage you are in. If you are still menstruating you will need to stop using them on certain days of the month that coincide with your period, (It gets a little complicated). If you are no longer menstruating you will apply the creams daily. You will take a progesterone tablet 30 minutes before bed nightly. The problem with this treatment is it is very irregular. Applying creams never gives you a balanced way of receiving your hormones and it isn’t ideal. The other type of treatment is called BioTe Pelleting. BioTe is a branded form of bio-identical hormones that are compressed into a tiny rice size pellets. These pellets are implanted into your hip about every 4 months or so depending on how active you are. Hormones normally release into our body as we exert ourselves. BioTe Pellets work very much the same way and give you a much more even experience very similar to how you felt before menopause. It is a much more balanced way of getting hormone replacement. Tap the button below to learn about BioTe Hormone Replacement Therapy.
Is Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Safe?
Don't Under Estimate the Happiness Factor.
Laughing and being happy helps you live longer.
The million dollar question everyone is asking is it safe? It depends on who you talk to. Although bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is not FDA approved it doesn’t mean it's unsafe. The problem is all women are not created the same and they need different amounts of hormone replacement. It would be difficult to conduct a study that the FDA would approve because of the varying treatment plans. In order to get the FDA to approve something it has to have a case study using the same type of treatment for a specific amount of time. Each woman enters into her change gradually and at a different ages and dosages are all different.
What Can I Expect When I go In For a Consultation for Hormone Replacement Therapy
It's pretty simple.
Contact a bio-identical provider.
At your appointment there will be blood drawn and levels of your hormones will be determined. After meeting with he doctor you will discuss your personal list of issues and things your are dealing with regarding your experience with menopause. Through this information you will receive your first pelleting. When you return 4 months later another discussion will take place about your symptoms and how your are feeling. Blood will be redrawn again to see what levels of your hormones are at post pelleting, ( at about 4 weeks after insertion). From this information the next pelleting will be done and tweaked if needed to achieve an ideal balance for you. For more information click the link below.
Thyroid Tests Important
Don't Overlook Your Thyroid.
Many menopause symptoms are worsened by a thyroid problem.
Along with the testing of your estrogen, progesterone and testosterone there will also be a T3 and T4 test to check your thyroid function. Many menopausal symptoms are worsened by a thyroid imbalance. Hot flashes can be much worse, dry skin, dry hair, fatigue and trouble with weight gain can all be a sign your thyroid isn’t functioning as it should. There is a very high increase in thyroid disfunction in women over 50. Having your thyroid checked is another vital piece of the puzzle to get yourself feeling better there many different types of medications for thyroid treatment. The best ones are not synthetic. Nature Throid is a bio-identical brand thyroid medication that is very affective and well accepted by the body. Thyroid medications offer a long list of positive health benefits with no negative affects. It makes no sense to not supplement your thyroid if it is not functioning up to par. To find out more about Nature Throid tap the link below.
Look in the Mirror.
You can see if your thyroid is enlarged by looking in the mirror.
Symptoms of Hypo-Thyrodism
- Weight Gain
- Hair Loss and Dry Hair
- Muscle Cramps
- Brittle Nails
- Slow Heart Rate
- Irregular Periods
- Sensitivity to Cold
Symptoms of Hyperthyroid
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Wired and Anxious
- Sweating and Feeling Hot
- Red Itchy Skin
- Hair Loss or Thinning Hair
- More Frequent Bowel Movements
- Racing Heartbeat
These are just a few symptoms that could point toward a thyroid problem. The best way to know for sure is to have a blood test to check you T3 and T4 levels.
Women in Menopause Have More Health Issues
Higher Medical Costs.
Studies prove women in menopause have higher health costs.
In March of 2013 there was a massive study done on female employees of corporations. Data was collected from 2000 - 2010 looking at women's health care costs: medical costs, sick leave, pharmaceuticals, worker’s comp and disability. They also compared the health costs of 40+ women who were in menopause to those who were not. The study revealed that 40+ women in menopause were spending way more money on health issues than women who were not. This concludes that women not in menopause are living much healthier, happier lives. Click on the link below to read more about health issues of women in menopause.
Harvard Medical Study concluded that a decrease in estrogen is linked to hot flashes which cause a lack of sleep which in turn cause depression. Click the link to read the Harvard Medical Study.
Benefits of BioTe Hormone Replacement Therapy
Here is a list of benefits you can expect from BioTe Hormone Replacement Therapy. Within less than a week of treatment you will notice these improvements.
- No More Hot Flashes
- Libido Returned and Intimacy Restored
- Vaginal Dryness Gone
- Happiness Increased
- Less Belly Fat and Weight Gain
- Mental Clarity
- Better Skin and Hair
- Increase in Muscle Mass
- Better Bones
I was 48 when my change began, I had some peri-menopause symptoms prior to that but the official 12 months with no menstruation happened around 49. At first I skipped a cycle and about 2 months later it resumed after that I may have gone about 6 months and then my cycle stopped completely.
A few of my friends went through menopause ahead of me and I would hear their awful stories and wonder how bad could this be? I thought I can take a lot of pain and put up with quite a bit of inconvenience so I should be able to get through this. I'll tough it out and it will be different for me. Well that didn’t happen. Two years of struggle brought me to a new realization, I needed some help.
The worst thing that happened to me was my ability to sleep was gone. I would literally go for weeks on end with little or no sleep. I tried every natural remedy known, tryptophan tablets (made from turkey), essential oils, bathes and numerous other natural supplements. None of them worked. Going to bed at night became a dreaded event. I would be wide awake many nights all night long and on a good night get 3-4 hours of sleep. I struggled with this for almost 2 years, looking back now I don't know how I survived. Desperate and exhausted I went to see a doctor. He was quick to prescribe me some sleeping pills, something I was very against. On nights where it was impossible to sleep I would carefully cut the pill into 4 pieces trying to take as little as possible and still get a bit of sleep. It soon became apparent to me that I would either have to take medication to sleep every night or I would have to pursue another option.
My first research sent me to a nurse practitioner who specialized in bio-identical hormone replacement. She had me take a saliva test and assured me she could help me. After a week or so I re-visited her to go over my results. She suggested some bio-identical creams that I would apply to my wrist twice a day and a progesterone tablet to take by mouth at night. Within a night or two I was sleeping somewhat better. As time went on my sleep issues started to return and I wasn’t sure that this method was going to be the answer for me. Applying hormones this way is difficult to monitor. There is no way to test to see if we are getting the right amount of what we need. Although it offered a bit of relief it was far from bringing me back to normal.
I saw a Groupon ad about these salt tanks that you could go float in for relaxation, I thought it may help my sleep so I made an appointment, what did have to lose? While waiting in the lobby I noticed some flyers about BioTe Hormone Replacement Therapy. There happened to be a doctor in the same building who specialized in this new treatment. Still not feeling 100% I decided to go in for a consultation. It was the best thing I ever did. Although I mean no disrespect for my nurse practitioner, this doctor was leaps and bounds beyond what she could do for me. Her knowledge and expertise were far and above. She explained to me that saliva wasn’t a good choice for hormone testing and that I really needed blood work to get the full picture. She also told me that most creams you apply topically were not properly absorbed into the body and the extra is just dumped in your liver. I liked what she had to say so I went ahead and did the blood work and went in for a follow up appointment the next week. Just as she suspected very little of the hormone cream was actually showing up in my body and my liver test showed signs of overload from the creams.
I scheduled an appointment to try the BioTe Pellets. These tiny rice sized pellets would be implanted in my hip and they would be released as I exerted myself the way my own hormones once were. I would still take a progesterone tablet at night to balance things out and help me sleep better.
There are no words to explain what it is like to get your life back. After two years of suffering from a list of unpleasant side affects I was returned to my normal self. The improvement of the quality of my life far out weighs any concern about hormone replacement safety. I am not sure how long my health would have held up under the constant strain of lack of sleep.
There are many benefits to Hormone Replacement Therapy and your quality of your life while you are alive will be much better.
Quality verses Quanity.
Feeling vibrant and alive is something we need to preserve as long as we can.
I hope that you find your road to wellness and that you take your health into your own hands. Menopause can be a difficult transition and each person needs to do what ever makes them feel happy and healthy.