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Menopause. Myths. And the truth about HRT safety.
As we go through life, we all experience changes in our body’s hormone levels. While this is a natural part of the aging experience, in many cases patients have symptoms related to imbalances or deficiencies in hormone levels. A common myth is that women don’t experience menopausal symptoms until their 50’s. However women is their 40’s, even in their 30’s, may begin to notice feeling off kilter. It is always important to take a moment and be mindful of what your body and mind are feeling and experiencing. By recognizing shifts within yourself, understanding what is happening and embracing the changes in your body, you can proactively take steps to move through this natural course with ease. In this post we discuss a few more myths and the updated findings about the safety of BioIdentical Hormones.
Myth: I’m not in menopause until I have hot flashes.
Hot flashes are indeed a common symptom of menopause. If you are still getting your period and experience hot flashes, you might be entering and experiencing peri-menopause. However, there is no set order of types of symptoms you may experience. There are many signals that your body might be giving you that would be an indication of hormonal changes and fluctuations such as:
- Fatigue or Foggy Thinking
- Night Sweats
- Unwanted/Unusual Weight gain
- Low libido and/or Vaginal Dryness
- Hair Loss, Brittle Nails or Unwanted Hair Growth
- Digestive Discomfort & Food Cravings
- Fuzzy Thinking/Forgetfulness
- Irritability, Mood Swings, Depression and/or Anxiety
- Irregular Periods: changes in frequency, length and changes in blood volume or color
- Adult Acne or Other Skin Issues
- Sleep difficulties, Insomnia, Change of Sleep Patterns
- Joint Stiffness
- Menstrual Migraines and exacerbated PMS symptoms
Myth: Menopause means my sex life is over.
Lack of desire is a common symptom during menopause but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it! Quite often another pesky symptom, vaginal dryness, can make sex uncomfortable or even painful. If sex doesn’t feel good, of course it will contribute to low libido. Emotions and energy level may also contribute to changes in your sex drive. However, rebalancing your hormones, diet, exercise and using lubrication can help improve your libido and satisfaction.
Myth: Menopause will make me gain weight.
During menopause your body will naturally want to hold on to fat as your estrogen levels decrease. This is because fat cells contain an enzyme that help to make more estrogen. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, exercising, eating the right foods for your body during this time and addressing stress can all help keep unwanted weight gain at bay.
Are Bio-Identical Hormones Safe?
There has been a lot of fear and misunderstanding regarding the safety and efficacy of hormone replacement. According to the physicians of the North American Menopausal Society (NAMS), they are now officially stating that the use of BioIdentical Hormones is safe and effective for long term use. These physicians, all nationally recognized experts in Women's Health, concluded that previous studies highlighting the dangers of hormone treatment did not distinguish between Synthetic and Natural (BioIdentical) hormones, hence the reversal of their previous stance.
Synthetic progestins (Provera) and Equine estrogens (Premarin - which comes from horse urine) carry much greater risks than BioIdentical (natural) preparations, which are now viewed as safe and effective both with regards to cardiovascular risk and risk of breast & endometrial cancer, especially when started within 10 years of menopause in patients who have been carefully screened for risks (breast cancer, history of blood clots, smoking, etc).
Bottom line - this is a huge step forward in taking the fear factor out of using hormone therapy to treat symptomatic peri and post-menopausal women.
In addition to measuring & replacing your hormones, it is important your practitioner evaluate all aspects of your health and lifestyle. Other health conditions, medications, diet, relationships and stress levels can all play a role in how your symptoms play out. At HealthBridge, we will evaluate if you are a good candidate for BioIdentical Hormone treatment, discuss the risks and benefits of treatment and review your personal health. Together, we can decide if BioIdentical Hormones are right for you. Having a health professional on your team that specializes in hormone replacement can help you look at your own unique big picture and individualize your plan.