Menopause is reached when you have missed 12 consecutive cycles. Usually this occur between 45-55 years of age, but some women reach menopause earlier due to cancer treatment, surgical removal of ovaires, genetics, lifestyle factors, and other health concerns.
Perimenopause occurs just prior to menopause and can be a time whe menstrual changes start to occur. The symptoms during this time can be confusing. Along the usual hot flashes and night sweats, a woman may also experience some lesser known symptoms such as extreme fatigue, anxiety, and facing health beat along with a myriad of other symptoms. One aspect that may be discussed emough is the emotional fulctutations that can be peri-menopause related.
Symptoms and Underlying Biological Changes
During perimenopause, a woman’s hormone levels change and fluctuate considerably, often leading to changes in the pattern of menstrual periods. As you become postmenopausal, reproductive hormone levels decrease, resulting in levels of estrogen and progesterone which are inadequate to produce a menstrual period.
Symptoms are varied, unpredictable, and often go unrecognized as perimenopause symptoms. They can include:
As ovulation becomes irregular, the length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow may be lighter or heavier, and you may have random spotting or skip periods. It is important to manage excessive bleeding, and rule out endometrial hyperplasia (when the lining of the uterus becomes too thick).
Hot flashes and night sweats are common, with varying intensity, length and frequency. They can be aggravated by lifestyle factors including environment, nutrition, stress, alcohol, and tobacco use. It is important to differentiate other medical conditions from menopause-related hot flashes, including hyperthyroidism, anxiety, and more.
Vaginal dryness and thinning
Decreased estrogen can cause vaginal tissues to become thinner, drier, and less elastic, making vaginal penetration painful. Diminishing estrogen can also leave you more vulnerable to vaginal infections, urinary tract infections, and urinary incontinence. It is important to rule out other causes of these symptoms including malignancies, vulvar dystrophies and dermatoses, infection, allergies, and skin conditions.
Changes such as brown spots, dryness, easy bruising, and increased wrinkling may occur. Skin is partially composed of collagen, and during the first five years after the menopause, 30 percent of skin collagen is lost.
Support and Management of Menopausal Symptoms
Using a whole body approach, an initial visit is spent understanding in detail the symptoms being faced and possible connections to the root cause of hormonal balance.
While hormonal changes are normal during this phase of life, some interventions include:
- Medicinal plants that contain phytoestrogens, such as ginseng, red clover, and soy to reduce hot flashes, decrease vaginal dryness, increase energy, and improve moods
- Bio-Identical Hormone Therapy
- Non-phytoestrogen plants such as Black Cohosh and Kava Kava to reduce hot flashes
- Vitamin D, calcium and other nutrient supplements to help prevent osteoporosis.
- Mind-body medicine such as stress reduction, meditation, and yoga for mild to moderate depression, cognitive decline, and hot flashes.
- Bacopa to improve memory.
- Homeopathic remedies to help lessen symptoms of hot flashes and irregular bleeding
- Metabolic Balance ® program for weight management