Bio-Identical Hormones: Easing the Transition into Menopause
Menopause is a natural life change for women marking the end of the reproductive years. Unfortunately, for many women the journey isn’t as smooth as it could be. Hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, memory problems and weight gain are some of the notorious symptoms associated with menopause. Menopause does not happen overnight — the transition into menopause is called ‘perimenopause’ and it can last anywhere from 2-15 years (with an average of 4 years). This is the time frame in which the ovaries gradually begin to output less and less estrogen and progesterone, which leads to symptoms. Menopause only becomes ‘official’ once a woman’s menstrual cycle has stopped for one entire year (or if the ovaries were surgically removed).
With the potential for having perimenopausal symptoms for 2-15 years, this can certainly interfere with quality of life. Balancing hormones can help ease the transition from perimenopause to menopause and it can be done naturally. One of the most effective ways to balance hormones is Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). Bio-identical means that the hormone molecule is ‘identical’ to the hormone molecule originally produced by the ovaries. In that sense, the body more easily recognizes the hormones allowing for less side effects. Other forms of hormone replacement therapy contain synthetic forms of hormones that the body does not recognize well and can lead to an increased risk for unwanted side effects or complications.
Hormone balancing is a very individualized process. It begins with hormone lab tests to see which levels are not optimal. After hormone therapy is started, the hormone levels are closely monitored as well as symptom reduction. BHRT is not just effective for symptom relief in menopause. Medical research shows that BHRT can help prevent cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis in women.
Hormone replacement therapy is not right for everyone and cannot be used for patients with a personal or close family history of female reproductive cancers. However, there are many other ways to safely balance hormones including supplements, herbs, acupuncture, homeopathy and nutritional support. Meet with your Naturopathic Doctor to find out the right options for you and your body to start feeling your best.