Menopause isn’t a disease. It’s a stage in a women’s life when her ovaries start to take a break. It is characterized by a cessation of menses for a minimum of 12 continuous months. Peri-menopause is defined as the time when your period starts becoming irregular and usually starts in your 40s. This can result in hormone imbalances manifested in symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, sleep disturbances, night sweats etc. Every woman is different but these symptoms can last 5 to 6 years.
As ovulation no longer occurs, the ovarian levels of progesterone cease. The declining levels of progesterone explain symptoms such as heavy periods, spotting and mood changes in certain women.
Because the ovaries are slowing down, the adrenal gland (located above the kidneys) take over more of the role to produce estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Not all women will experience menopausal symptoms and thus not all women will need treatment.
- Hot flashes
- Light headed feeling
- Joint pains
- Muscle pains
- New facial hair
- Dry skin
- Crawling feelings under the skin
- Unloved feelings anxiety
- Mood changes
- Unusual tiredness
- Less sexual feelings
- Dry vagina
- Uncomfortable intercourse
- Urinary frequency
As a naturopathic doctor, I always treat the root cause. Very often the cause of menopausal symptoms is actually adrenal fatigue. If you are a woman who hardly takes breaks, takes care of others and works a lot then you are more likely to have menopausal symptoms because you have exhausted your adrenal resources. Remember that your adrenals take over when the ovaries shut down. I usually treat adrenal fatigue by replenishing any nutrient deficiencies, herbs, acupuncture and bio-identical hormones.
Some of the most common and effective treatments that employ estriol (weak compounded estrogen) include: hot flashes, insomnia, skin enhancement, vaginal atrophy and reduced frequency of urinary tract infections. Most recently, estriol has shown the potential to treat individuals with Th1-mediated autoimmune illnesses, including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Getting your hormones levels tested via blood or saliva is very helpful in creating a treatment plan. Hormones that are commonly tested are: LH, FSH, Estradiol, Progesterone, Testosterone, DHEA, TSH and cortisol.
The goal is to bring the hormones back to balance in order to remove all symptoms.