By definition, menopause occurs when a woman has not menstruated for a period of 12 months. The average age when menopause occurs is 51, but the typical age range is from 40 to 58 years old. This is a natural process and does not occur suddenly but usually over several years. The time period prior to menopause is called perimenopause. Perimenopause can occur in some women in their 30’s but more often in their 40’s. During this time most women experience heavy or light bleeding or irregular cycles or periodic skipping of menstruation.
Some of the more immediate symptoms sometimes associated with perimenopause and menopause are:
- Mood swings, general irritability, depression.
- Memory loss, loss of previously enjoyed activities
- Hot flashes, night sweats
- Fatigue, decreased/ increased libido
- Thinning hair
- Weight gain especially around the abdomen
- Thinning and loss of elasticity of skin, loss of breast fullness
- Vaginal dryness, general dryness, painful intercourse
- Bladder control problems
- Heart palpitations
Some of the longer term effects of menopause:
- Poor brain function, increased risk of dementia
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Poor skin elasticity
- Poor muscle power and tone
- Poor bowel and bladder function
- Decreased vision, cataracts, macular degeneration 9. Some of the short term symptoms can also persist for years
This list seems overwhelming, but not everyone will experience all these symptoms and will experience them to varying degrees. It does appear that a larger percentage of women are experiencing these symptoms. This is probably is due to our lifestyles, weight, stress levels and more importantly has to do with adrenal gland function. If the adrenal glands are functioning efficiently and producing adequate sex hormones a lot of these symptoms can be avoided or minimized.
TREATMENT OF PERIMENOPAUSE AND MENOPAUSE
Most of the classical treatment of menopause has to do with hormone replacement along with treating most of the related symptoms caused by subsequent inflammatory cytokine surges. Often antidepressants are used for depression and hot flashes, Gabapentin an anti-seizure medication also is used for hot flashes, Clonidine for elevated blood pressure and hot flashes, biphosphonates like Fosamax and Boniva for osteoporosis, Evista for bone density and topical hormone creams for vaginal dryness. At our office, we try to balance the body naturally by addressing the inflammatory changes, restoring better balanced brain, neurotransmitter activity, balancing adrenal function and supplying the body with the correct nutrients to help with bone density. For general reduction of inflammation, we recommend a number of antioxidants, fish oils, vitamin D complex. For proper brain function we use products that help to reduce neural degeneration, decrease microglial activity, increase blood flow to the brain and others to help with balancing neurotransmitter activity of the brain. Stress related and adrenal imbalance can be addressed by specific products to support the adrenals. Helping with brain regulation of the adrenals via adaptogenic herbs and phosphatidyl serine and choline is very important. Also, regulating blood sugar, elimination of allergens contributing to adrenal dysfunction and stress reducing compounds all need to be balanced to achieve better health. Bone can be addressed by supplying proper minerals such as calcium, magnesium, boron, silica, vitamin D complex, proper adrenal, thyroid balance and other compounds.