Most women expect to experience hot flashes, night sweats, and even some degree of vaginal dryness as they go through menopause. But they aren’t prepared to find themselves facing a more sluggish metabolism, uncontrolled weight gain, major mood swings, regular sleep disturbances, and relentless fatigue.
When menopause symptoms are mild, it’s often possible to take the edge off with a few simple lifestyle changes — staying hydrated, dressing in comfortable layers, eating a nutritious diet, and getting plenty of exercise.
But these helpful lifestyle changes may not go far enough when symptoms are so destabilizing that they interfere with daily life. Luckily, the most bothersome menopause symptoms usually respond well to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Menopause, or the end of female fertility, doesn’t happen overnight; instead, it’s a gradual process that’s set in motion as your aging ovaries release progressively lower levels estrogen and progesterone.
Although reproductive hormone depletion is already underway by the time you’re in your late thirties, most women don’t reach menopause until they’re in their late forties or early fifties. In the United States, 52 is the average age for menopause, which officially begins one year after your final period (or immediately following a radical hysterectomy).
During perimenopause, or the time it takes to transition into menopause, declining estrogen and progesterone levels don’t simply interfere with your menstrual cycle or make it harder to conceive — they can also give rise to a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms, including:
- Hot flashes, cold flashes, and night sweats
- Mood changes, low energy, trouble sleeping
- Slowed metabolism and easy weight gain
- Vaginal dryness, inflammation, or irritation
- Insufficient lubrication and discomfort during sex
- Decreased sex drive or reduced sexual confidence
- Bladder and urinary problems, including leakage
- Feelings of sadness, loss, depression, or anxiety
While it can be bothersome to experience any of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time, declining reproductive hormone levels can take a more insidious toll on your long-term health and well-being.
Osteoporosis is a major post-menopausal health concern for many women, as lower estrogen levels can lead to a rapid loss of bone density and increased risk of bone fractures. Reduced estrogen levels can also boost your chances of developing heart disease, the leading cause of death in all adults.
Bioidentical HRT benefits
Menopause may signal the end of your fertility, but it doesn’t have to take a toll on your health, impact your vitality, or interfere with your sex life.
Using an individualized prescription of the exact reproductive hormones your body lacks, HRT helps restore hormonal balance, diminish bothersome menopause symptoms, and reduce your risk of associated health risks. Here at Kimberly I. Shine, MD, we’re pleased to offer bioidentical hormones, the safest and most advanced form of HRT available.
Derived from natural plant sources, bioidentical hormones are structurally and functionally identical to your own hormones. Because your body can’t differentiate between bioidentical hormones and those it produces naturally, bioidentical HRT is more effective — and less likely to cause unwanted side effects — than traditional HRT.
Bioidentical HRT is an ideal solution for women who want relief from any bothersome menopause symptoms, including hot flashes, mood swings, fatigue, and vaginal dryness.
Although bioidentical HRT can help alleviate intense menopause symptoms, using it to treat mild to moderate symptoms when they first start to emerge (usually by the age of 45) is a great way to keep them from becoming more severe.
And if you’re experiencing early menopause (before the age of 40), starting HRT as soon as possible can help provide greater protection against osteoporosis and heart disease.
Determining health factors
Despite its numerous and substantial benefits, bioidentical HRT isn’t recommended for women who have either a personal or family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or other reproductive cancers. It’s also not recommended for women with a history of heart disease, stroke, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), liver disease, or gallbladder disease.
A detailed medical history and comprehensive physical exam can help Dr. Shine determine if bioidentical HRT is right for you. If you’re not a good candidate for the treatment, she can recommend other effective management strategies to help you keep your most bothersome symptoms under control.
If you’re healthy and there are no red flags in your medical history, Dr. Shine can measure your hormone levels and prescribe the amount you need to restore optimal hormonal balance.
If you’re ready to discover what bioidentical HRT can do for you, call our Pasadena, California office today, or use the convenient online tool to schedule an appointment at any time.