Menopause is a natural process that all women will go through at some point in their life. It marks the end of natural fertility and although its symptoms can at times be tricky to navigate, it does not mark the end of your health, vitality, or wellbeing.
What is Menopause?
Menopause can mean different things to different women but officially a woman is defined as being in menopause 12 months after her last menstrual period. The process leading up to menopause called peri-menopause is a time when many women can first start to experience the symptoms of menopause.
The average age of menopause in the United States is 51 but there are cases of women starting menopause as early as their late 30s or well into their late 50s.
In simple terms, menopause is really just a process where the body stops producing specific hormones. Throughout a woman’s adult life (up to the point of menopause) she will produce two key hormones known as Estrogen and Progesterone. Both of these hormones help regulate the menstrual cycle and play an important role in childbirth. Once a woman reaches her late 30’s the production of these hormones begins to slow down which is why fertility also begins to decline at this point.
The reduced production of Estrogen and Progesterone has the effect of causing irregular menstrual cycles. Around the age of 40 women may notice that their periods become longer or shorter, lighter or heavier, very infrequent, or more frequent. This cycle continues up until the point where periods stop all together and menopause begins. The whole process takes longer than most people realize and peri-menopause can last for a few years.
Symptoms of Menopause
Women going through menopause may experience some or all of these symptoms in the months or years leading up to menopause (or just after it starts):
- Irregular periods
- Vaginal dryness and low sexual desire
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Sleep problems
- Mood changes
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
- Thinning hair and dry skin
Getting Your Diagnosis
The diagnosis of menopause is usually a straightforward one for doctors to make. A history of your symptoms and a blood test is usually all that is required. In the majority of cases, a blood test is only used if the diagnosis is unclear or if some doubt exists about whether a woman is in true menopause or not.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Menopause is a natural process. It is not a medical condition that requires treatment or therapy but some of the symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, mood changes or vaginal dryness may become very uncomfortable or unpleasant to the point where they start to affect your daily activities or quality of life. In these cases, doctors might recommend the use of creams or medications to help alleviate the symptoms.
Hormone therapy continues to be one of the most popular methods of treating the symptoms of menopause. As the name suggests hormone replacement therapy uses synthetic hormones (hormones that mimic naturally occurring estrogen) to replace the estrogen that the body is no longer making. Estrogen is used by itself or in combination with Progesterone to help relieve the symptoms of menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy is a catch-all phrase that is given to the process of delivering a specific amount of Estrogen to the bloodstream. Women can take HRT in many different formulations such as tablets, pellet implants, skin patches, gels, nasal spray, or a vaginal ring. The choice usually depends on your lifestyle and personal preference.
Benefits of HRT
HRT is widely used for the treatment of menopause symptoms and can help improve night sweats, hot flushes, and muscle aches and pains. It can also help with vaginal dryness, sexual function, sleep and generally improve the quality of life of women that have prolonged and significant symptoms. Research has also shown that HRT can also protect against Osteoporosis.
Hormone replacement therapy can be used as an effective method for alleviating some of the more severe symptoms of menopause but it may not be suitable for all women particularly those with a medical history of blood clots, cancer, heart disease, or strokes. For all other women, studies show that the benefits of HRT outweigh the risks, but this should always be discussed with your doctor prior to use.
Explore HRT With ReVital
Hormones play a vital role in every woman’s health and wellbeing. When they are in harmony and working together, you’ll feel it – and will benefit from renewed energy, restful sleep, clear skin, good moods, healthy weight levels, and more. However, an imbalance in one hormone leads to an imbalance in others, and the impact can trigger symptoms that can be life-altering.
With hormone replacement therapy, you can find relief from these symptoms. Schedule a time to speak with one of our board-certified physicians about ReVital’s Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy.