As women get older, they go through several changes in hormones. Puberty
signals the beginning of menstruation and the beginning of the fertile years.
During a woman’s twenties and early thirties, her hormones are usually
well-balanced for supporting pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. In her
late thirties, a woman has fewer eggs in her ovaries than when she was
younger, and her body begins to end the menstrual process. The changes that
occur at the end of a woman’s reproductive period are known as menopause.
Menopause is not a disease; it’s simply a change that occurs in the body.
Although for women menopause is normal, the symptoms for menopause
can be uncomfortable, irritating and difficult to deal with. Although you may
not know all the menopause facts, menopause typically occurs after age 40,
but it can occur prematurely, especially when a woman has experienced a
condition that has affected her uterus or ovaries, such as a hysterectomy or
chemotherapy. The average age for a woman to experience menopause is 51.
Several years before the onset of menopause, the ovaries begin to produce
less estrogen. As menopause draws closer, the estrogen drop becomes more
significant. The sudden drop in estrogen causes menopause symptoms. This
early stage is called perimenopause. Menopause is confirmed once
menstrual cycles have stopped for a full year. For women menopause
symptoms typically continue throughout menopause and into post menopause.
Symptoms for Menopause
Some women experience hot flashes, during which they feel inappropriately and uncomfortably warm. Hot flashes can cause profuse sweating or sudden blushing, which can be embarrassing. Other menopause symptoms are more emotional. Women going through menopause may experience mood swings, depression and irritability. These sudden emotional changes can be disconcerting, leading women to feel out of control or confused. Menopause can cause physical symptoms as well, such as headaches, a racing heart, changes in libido, osteoporosis and bladder control problems. These symptoms can significantly disrupt a woman’s quality of life.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
Although not all women experience every symptom, most women do experience uncomfortable changes during menopause. It can be difficult to find a solution to deal with this upheaval. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, or BHRT, is one method of improving menopause symptoms, allowing women to lead the life they’re used to.
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy replaces some of the hormones that the body stops creating during menopause. The loss of estrogen makes it more difficult for the body to absorb calcium in the intestines, leaving women susceptible to bone loss. Estrogen also helps protect the heart by increasing “good” cholesterol levels in the blood. As estrogen levels decline,so do “good” cholesterol levels, leading to an increase in “bad” cholesterol.
Studies show that Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help increase bone density, helping women avoid fractures and broken bones that can occur as a result of osteoporosis. Adding estrogen back into the system, in addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, can also help women’s cholesterol from climbing after they hit menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy can also involve replacing lost progesterone. When women still have their uterus, simply adding estrogen back into the system can increase the buildup of the endometrial lining. However, since menopause causes ovulation to stop, the endometrial lining is no longer shed. The accumulation of endometrial cells without release can lead to cancer. Adding natural progesterone can help thin the endometrial lining, reducing the risk of cancer from endometrial cell buildup.
DHEA, cortisol and testosterone also play a part in hormone replacement therapy. DHEA helps balance the other hormones within the body, and DHEA levels decrease significantly after age 30. Testosterone is secreted by the ovaries, and decreasing levels can lead to hair loss, weight gain and mood swings. Replacing DHEA and testosterone can help with fatigue, aching joints and decreased libido, as well as mood swings and muscle strength.
Evidence shows that in addition to helping with the physical symptoms of menopause, BHRT can improve mental and emotional symptoms. This type of menopause treatment can help women feel more balanced and more like themselves while they’re going through menopause. One study, conducted by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, showed that low-dose estrogen was effective at reducing hot flashes and night sweats.
Although there are risks and side effects associated with hormone replacement therapy, studies show that the therapy can be conducted in a manner in which the benefits outweigh the risks. Different factors, such as what hormones are introduced during the therapy, how the therapy is administered and when treatment started can affect the risk. Menopause treatment dosing depends on the needs of each individual. Women with certain conditions, such as blood clots, cancers of the reproductive system or heart or liver disease may want to avoid BHRT.
Talking to a doctor about hormone replacement therapy can give you the opportunity to dramatically turn your life around as you age. Getting older doesn’t have to make you feel like a different person. Hormone replacement therapy can help you feel amazing as you go through menopause.