Smooth Your Path Through Menopause
When perimenopause arrives, it can turn your world upside down! It’s the first announcement that menopause is on its way, and even if you’re still having your periods, hormonal changes are going on. They can’t be seen, but they certainly can be felt.
In a worst-case scenario, hot flushes and night sweats arrive to disrupt your days and make sleep elusive. Fatigue becomes a constant companion and your brain feels wrapped in wet cotton wool. You may become more moody, more volatile . . . even slip into depression. And to make matters worse, the pounds seem to pile on, uninvited, and refuse to leave.
Who wouldn’t be depressed?
Up until that point, you probably hadn’t thought a lot about your hormones. Ever since puberty, they’ve gone along, unobserved and for the most part quietly doing their job in perfect harmony. But now their job is changing ― along with your life.
Let’s take a look at some of the culprits.
Meet the Oestrogen Trio
Many women think of oestrogen as a single hormone, but oestrogen is actually a general term that encompasses three distinct primary hormones: oestrone (E1), oestradiol (E2) and oestriol (E3).
During your reproductive years, oestradiol, which is secreted by the ovaries, is the most active of the oestrogens. It’s the predominant sex hormone and responsible for the characteristics that make you “feminine” ― sex organs, breast development and curvy fat deposits around the hips and thighs. It also plays a major role in your menstrual cycle and bone health.
At this stage, oestradiol is 12 times more potent than oestrone and 80 times more potent than oestriol.
Oestradiol keeps your uterine lining healthy and ― just in case ― prepared for pregnancy. If you become pregnant, oestriol, a weak oestrogen, steps in as the primary oestrogen and thickens the uterine lining, which provides blood to the placenta. Large quantities of oestriol are released for the baby’s well-being.
With menopause, oestrone takes over as the dominant oestrogen. Oestrone is a “danger” hormone because it carries the potential for increased risk of breast and endometrial cancer. For that reason, it needs to be monitored to ensure it remains in balance.
Menopause Disrupts the Harmony
Beginning with perimenopause (the onset of menopause), oestradiol begins a dramatic decline that often heralds the arrival of physical and emotional menopausal symptoms.
For many women, these symptoms include erratic moods, stress, inability to cope, frustration, sadness and, in the worst instances, severe depression and feelings of hopelessness. If a woman has hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, vaginal dryness, low libido and other physical symptoms, these feelings are magnified.
It’s estimated that between 8% and 15% of women going through menopause experience some degree of depression, which is most common during the perimenopausal transition to menopause.
Dr Dzugan is one of the few doctors who recognises the true source of this kind of depression, which is hormone-induced. Unfortunately, many doctors often treat their patients with antidepressants, which are inappropriate and drive the situation from bad to worse.
Antidepressants just don’t work, and typically the dosage is then increased with, again, no improvement. As Dr Dzugan has told me more than once, “In these cases, quite often, a second or third antidepressant is prescribed, along with mood-stabilising and anti-epileptic drugs.”
If you think there has to be a better way, you’re right.
Oestrogens to the Rescue
When you arrive at menopause, oestrone replaces oestradiol as the primary oestrogen. However, oestrone is a weaker oestrogen and can’t combat menopausal symptoms, whether emotional or physical.
There is, however, a solution.
Bioidentical oestradiol, in the proper ratio with oestriol, can restore your hormonal equilibrium. It has been proven to reliably banish hot flushes and other physical symptoms associated with menopause nearly instantaneously.
Bioidentical oestrogen therapy also boosts your serotonin level. Although actually a neurotransmitter, serotonin is known as the “feel-good hormone.” It fights depression, elevates mood and promotes sleep. What is more, it increases your production of GABA, a neurotransmitter with calming effects. It also raises endorphins, which act to control pain, ease stress, relieve frustration and even slow the ageing process.
What Else Do You Need?
Your endocrine system ― that is, your hormones ― act interdependently, and for them to function properly, you need each one in the proper quantity. In other words, they have to be balanced.
That means you will also need progesterone and testosterone.
Although your oestradiol levels decline rapidly as you transition into menopause, progesterone levels may fall even faster, and by the time you reach full menopause, your progesterone may be as low as it normally is in men.
As a result, your oestrogen level may top that of progesterone, resulting in a condition called oestrogen dominance. That simply means you have too much oestrogen relative to progesterone.
Oestrogen dominance may also result from exposure to hormone-disrupting toxic chemicals that mimic estrogens. Because these chemicals create false oestrogens, they can also throw your oestrogen/progesterone ratio off balance.
Symptoms of oestrogen dominance include severe headaches, depression, anxiety, fuzzy thinking, water retention, weight gain and digestive problems.
Even more concerning, oestrogen dominance increases your risk of breast and uterine cancers, so it’s extremely important to restore your oestrogen and progesterone to the proper balance.
Many women are unaware that testosterone is as important for women as it is for men. If you have low-T during menopause, you’ll have trouble with concentration and energy. Your muscles will become flabby and your bones brittle. Your sex drive and fantasy will be in “sleep mode,” and you’ll lack confidence and determination.
Women’s testosterone levels can begin to diminish as much as 10 years before full menopause.
Oestrogen and testosterone levels are closely related, and adding testosterone to your bioidentical hormone therapy may be needed to bring these two hormones back into sync.
How Do You Get What You Need?
It’s important to remember that bioidentical hormone restorative therapy is a complex specialism, and doctors need extensive training to do it properly. So the first thing you need to do is find a doctor with the needed knowledge, credentials and experience.
When you find your bioidentical hormone specialist, you’ll need to do testing. Testing is what allows your doctor to understand the exact status of your hormones so he or she can prescribe the hormones you need in the specific amounts you require.
I can tell you from my own experience that restoring your hormones to their proper balance can give you back your happy, healthy self, free of debilitating symptoms. Best of all, you’ll learn that “the change” in your life can be a truly positive change ― one that ushers in an exciting time of health, personal growth and productivity.
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