Menopause occurs 12 months after the date of the last menstruation. Before and after this date the process is referenced as perimenopause which is where sex hormones diminish and become more and more irregular, often with wide and unpredictable fluctuations in levels. This process is usually noticed within a women’s mid 40s. This transition is marked by the ovaries producing lower levels of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. During which a number of uncomfortable symptoms can arise.
The Common Symptoms:
- Menopause and Peri-menopause
- Hot flashes
- Night Sweats
- Poor memory and/or cognition
- Irregular menstruation
- Loss of Libido
- Pain during Intercourse
- Increased Abdominal Fat
- thinning Hair
- Common Naturopathic Treatments
- Nutritional Modifications (1 ex: phytoestrogen foods)
- Botanical Supplementation
- Bioidentical Hormone Replacement
Estrogen is responsible for ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovaries) and the development of the uterine lining. Progesterone prepares the body for implantation and pregnancy and promotes menstruation if implantation doesn’t happen. Both of these hormones also have far reaching physiological effects on a women’s physical and emotional health.
Before menopause is perimenopause which is a loss of healthy progesterone levels. Menopause happens later with lowered estrogen levels. Therefore it is best to assess both hormonal levels so treatment reflects physiological needs. As well as we can learn from testosterone and other hormonal levels. The sex hormones are not the only culprits in menopausal symptoms. Examples of other common hormonal impacts include Thyroid and Adrenal function. Adrenal function, post menopause, is very important as the gland takes over hormonal production. Understanding each women’s physiology, symptom picture, personal and family history and appropriate medical diagnostics will direct a thorough treatment.
Assessment and preventative treatment is very important for related heart and bone health. Both of these systems are sensitive to diminished sex hormone levels. Natural medicine has much to offer this transitional state. Targeted natural medical choices are plentiful in the medical research as well as time tested. Holistic medicine in general understands the full impact of an individual’s general health and what this means to comfortably working through what is for many women a very difficult time of live.
Treatment is not limited to hormone replacement. Targeted natural treatments such as diet, botanical, supplemental and lifestyle have dramatic effect as well. For instance Japan has a history of very low menopausal complications. Many believe this to be related to Japanese high consumption of phytoestrogenic foods such as soy. Soy has in fact in a number of studies demonstrating the effectiveness of soy enriched diets on risk factors for breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, as well as helping to combat some of the unpleasant symptoms of menopause.
Natural solutions can dramatically reduce symptoms while protecting against potential health issues related to diminishing hormonal output.