Menopause is a profound life transition and is often accompanied by many physical changes and symptoms. When the ovary decreases hormone production during perimenopause and menopause, a woman's body experiences disruption in multiple systems. Most women want to move through this life phase with grace and ease and maintain and enhance their health. Bioidentical hormones are a wonderful option for women as a treatment for menopause.
Bioidentical hormones are hormones that are an exact chemical match with those produced by the body. These hormones are usually extracted from plant sources. A prescription is required and usually contains a combination of estrogens, progesterone and testosterone in specific proportions for the individual woman. This combination is usually determined through laboratory testing (blood work) and evaluating your symptoms.
The bioidentical prescription is filled by a compounding pharmacy, where the pharmacist mixes the specific prescription. The hormones can be made into oral capsules, creams or sublingual drops, according to the patient's needs and preferences. Because the bioidentical hormones match the ovary’s hormones, they are felt to be more natural in their metabolism through the body. Many women tolerate these more easily than non-bioidentical treatments. These hormones ease symptoms that are a result of low hormone level and may offer preventive protection to the bones, heart and colon.
There are some bioidentical hormones available from standard pharmaceutical companies. Estrogen (estradiol) and progesterone are available in plant-sourced bioidentical form; however testosterone and the other two ovarian estrogens are not available pharmaceutically. Only a limited range of dosage levels are available - since the hormones are pre-made. The advantage to these pre-made hormones may be the ease of obtaining them, cost savings and coverage by many insurance plans. In the end, it is important to work with your practitioner to determine the best therapy and combination for you.
Many women have a fear of taking hormone replacement therapy. There is research available on the compounded bioidentical therapy showing positive results, however it is not researched as thoroughly as standard pharmaceutical treatment. Although there is controversy in the media and among medical professionals, most agree that healthy women who take low dose replacement hormone therapy at the time of menopause are likely to receive benefit with minimal risk of adverse effects. In our experience, women do best on the therapy that they feel is best for them. When taking hormones, it is important to feel it is helpful and healthy - send a positive message to your body.
If you are interested in exploring bio-identical hormones please contact your WomanCare Physician.
Menopause affects all women.
It is a significant event, a transition from fertile goddess to wise woman. The average age of menopause in the US is 52, although some are now trending it closer to 53 to 55. The definition of menopause is that ovarian hormonal production stops and a woman goes 12 months without a menstrual cycle and after that 12th month, the woman is postmenopausal or commonly referred to as “in menopause”.
The actual physical experience of menopause can be quite different than a tidy definition. As all women are different, so is each woman’s experience with the menopause transition. For some women, the change may be a subtle inconvenience that includes a few irregular periods and some mild warm flushes until the period disappears altogether and life essentially returns to normal. For other women, and more commonly so, the experience completely disrupts life as they know it. A common complaint is “I don’t know who I am anymore”. Hot flashes causing profuse sweating followed by chills can occur anywhere from a few times a day to every 15 minutes in extreme cases. Night sweats that interrupt sleep often occur along with many other symptoms such as mood changes, insomnia, feeling depressed, fatigue, headaches, foggy thinking, forgetting, body changes, skin changes, and the most startling for many, anxiety or heart palpitations.
Menopause is not a disease but a natural change in life and so one option is to do nothing and let nature take its course. This too is a very individual choice. Each woman must decide for herself which is the best option for her. When additional help is needed there are many options. In some cases, working on diet, lifestyle and adding important supplements such as omega 3 oils or vitamin D can improve the experience. Herbs such as black cohosh and many others can be used under the direction of a healthcare provider to bring relief. Hormone replacement is the most effective form of treatment and should be done at the lowest dose effective for the shortest period of time needed. Other meds can be helpful in some cases such as anti-depressants. Holistic therapies, such as, acupuncture are also effective for many symptoms of menopause, especially hot flashes.
Whatever option seems right to each individual, working with a healthcare provider who is an expert in the menopause experience is important. The providers at WomanCare welcome the chance to ease that transition in the way that fits you best. We offer a variety of options from diet and supplements, massage, medicines or hormone therapy.
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Menopause and Sex
A woman’s sexuality is a complex interplay of physical and emotional responses that affects the way she thinks and feels about herself. When a woman has a sexual problem, it can affect many aspects of her life, including her personal relationships and her self-esteem. Sex is 10% of the relationship if it is good but 90% if it is bad. Now, more than ever, sexual fulfillment is an expectation in relationships and sexual dissatisfaction is often at the core of relational discontent.
Women can experience a variety of sexual problems, such as lack of desire, difficulty becoming aroused or pain during sex. An occasional sexual problem that seems to go away on its own is normal. However when the problem is persistent, or pain is involved, it’s time to seek professional help. A survey in 1999 revealed sexual problems occur in 43 percent of women in the United States. Sexual difficulties can also be lifelong problems that have always been present or acquired problems that develop after a period of normal sexual function. They may be situational problems that develop only under certain circumstances or with certain partners.
Many women needlessly suffer in silence when the situation could be greatly improved with medical therapy. At WomanCare, we feel sexual issues are just as important as pap smears and menstrual problems. We provide a caring atmosphere where these topics can be discussed.
Sexuality is an essential component of your health and well-being; people that have a happy sex life have less depression, pain and anxiety disorders, and live longer. A couple with three kids speaks to each other an average of thirteen minutes each day. This is not enough time to keep up an emotional and physical relationship. Make this issue a priority. Even the best relationship can wither under the forces of daily stress and inattention.
We offer both hormonal treatments and laser vaginal rejuvenation (Monalisa Touch and Femilift therapies in our office.