Are you hot flashing yet? The Menopausal years.
Although the weather outside has not made us sweat yet, are you suffering from hot flashes of the "womanly kind"? Did you know that by 2015, 50% of North American women will be menopausal, so ladies you are not alone!
Perimenopause is defined as the years prior to menopause, usually defined by menstrual irregularity. Average age of onset for 95% of women is between 39-51 and the transition can last 4-10 years.
Symptoms experienced are mainly due to the erratic and changing levels of estrogen and progesterone. Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation due to the loss of ovarian activity and is defined as no menses for 1 year.
The common question asked is, "What is going on with my hormones?" The first change that will happen is lowered progesterone levels relative to estrogen. Symptoms include: weight gain around hips/abdomen, water retention, fibrous/tender breasts, uterine fibroids, irregular menses, insomnia, migraines, gallbladder disease, mood swings, irritability, recurrent yeast infections and cold hands and feet.
Approximately 6 months- 1 year before menopause, estrogen levels will decline until ovaries no longer produce estrogen directly. Low estrogen can present as: hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness/ thinning, mood swings, mental fuzziness, headaches, urinary/bladder infections and decreased sex drive. Now what? The menopausal ovaries continue to secrete androstenedione (which gets converted to estrogen or testosterone in tissues/fat) and testosterone but no estrogen. The menopausal adrenal glands secrete DHEA and become the primary source of hormones. This is the key to a smooth transition: lower stress, increase meditation and support those adrenals!
Everyone is different and experiences their symptoms related to the magnitude of hormonal imbalance. There are blood and salivary tests available to define your hormonal health if needed. It is also important to evaluate concerns related to bone, heart, breast, colon, thyroid and adrenal health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women and one of the strongest predictors of heart disease is low HDL levels as part of the blood cholesterol panel. There is an entire spectrum of care available for both prevention and treatment customized to your symptoms. Therefore it is key to understand your body and the treatment options available. As most can conclude, diet, exercise, lifestyle and stress management are the cornerstone to making a huge change. Further nutritional supplementation, botanical formulas, acupuncture and bioidentical hormones are also available. See your health care provider to start your journey to balance.
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