Menopause is determined when a woman has not had a menstrual cycle for one year. The average age for menopause in the U.S. is 51.5 years old. However, this can occur much sooner, and sometimes later. The time before menopause is often termed as peri-menopause. This can occur for several years prior to the cessation of the menstrual cycle. In, fact the average length of time a woman experiences “hot flashes” in the U.S. is 10 + years, without help. During this time, hormone levels start dropping. Most women are aware that their estrogen levels are dropping, but even more drastically, the progesterone levels are dropping as well. Progesterone is the natural antagonist to estrogen, and gives natural protection to the breasts, uterus and ovaries. Progesterone is known as the “woman’s friend”.
Most women are aware that the breasts, uterus and ovaries have a lot of estrogen receptor sites. The tissues that need the hormone most have more receptor sites. We now know that there are estrogen receptor sites in many other areas of the body, including the brain, the bones, the heart, the lungs, the digestive tract, and the blood vessels. That is why there can be so many different symptoms associated with menopause because there are so many different systems being affected. Some of the most common symptoms are: hot flashes, night sweats, increased belly and hip fat, loss of confidence, depression, irregular menstrual cycles, fatigue, loss of libido, painful intercourse, and even increased facial wrinkles.
In the past, women have tried to deal with these symptoms using synthetic hormone replacement. After several years of study, it was found that this synthetic hormone replacement increased cancer risk for the breasts, uterus and ovaries. That is because the source of these hormones was from horse urine containing 300 to 500 times the level found in humans. This caused over-stimulation of the receptor sites. Besides being way too powerful, the synthetic hormones are unnatural. They have been altered to patent them. Natural hormones cannot be patented. Synthetic hormones are “extraterrestial” compounds, with serious adverse effects on the receptor sites and surrounding tissue. Many women are not aware there are safe alternatives to these “extraterrestial” synthetic drugs. These include nutraceuticals, herbs, and bio-identical hormones.
We are in an exponential information age. The current rate of new knowledge in any one given area doubles every 2.5 years. Doctors coming out of school need to re-enroll upon graduation, as the information they received by the time they have graduated has already changed. Your doctor who graduated 30 years ago, as I did, is probably using outdated information, unless he or she is aggressively keeping up with continuing education, and may be unaware of this information. This is an area of education that I have actively pursued.
Besides the general drop of estrogen and progesterone that is occurring in peri-menopausal and menopausal women, an imbalance can occur among the three types of estrogen: E1-estrone, E2-estradiol, and E3-estriol. Too much estrone can cause an over-stimulation of the receptor sites, increasing the risk of cancer. Estrogen can be converted from testosterone at the receptor sites through a process called aromatization, increasing the risk for cancer. There are many natural compounds that can greatly reduce this risk and provide increased protection. There are other hormones to consider. There is no such thing as a single hormone deficiency. The pituitary produces several other stimulating hormones which communicate to the thyroid, adrenals and gonads. Testosterone, DHEA and cortisol produced from the adrenal glands can become deficient or imbalanced, causing excess fatigue, insomnia, osteoporosis, and a host of chronic degenerative disorders.
The good news is that it is not inevitable that women have to suffer from menopause, safe, natural approaches are available that can address the many issues women face during this time. If you would like more information about how we can help you, call today at 813-985-1322 for an appointment.This service is provided through Hoffman Clinic for Optimal Health.
Debra Hoffman, D.C.