Whether you want to go into the final stages of womanhood fighting it with everything you’ve got (BHRT) or accepting it as just another phase of life, menopause happens. Some women have no problems – maybe an occasional hot flash and a gradual lessening of periods – while others lose their marriages, their minds, and their small-sized wardrobes. Most problems can be headed off in the early forties by making sure there is proper adrenal and thyroid function.
If you’re already there and having problems, Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) can be tricky but well worth it. Botanical medicines (like Remifemin which is a standardized black cohosh supplement) and other supplements, like vitamins C and E, can to decrease hot flashes and be enough for most women to get through the first half of menopause.
When the sex hormones finish their fluctuations and stay at about half their original level, it is then that a woman needs to decide whether or not she is going to use Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy to counteract the effects of the lower sex hormones (weight gain around the middle, sleep disturbances, concentration/memory issues, vaginal dryness, and lack of libido, to name a few).
Technically, this refers to the time in a woman’s life when periods stop naturally. This can also happen when a woman has surgery that removes her ovaries. This is referred to as ‘surgical menopause’ and can be a jolting hormonal experience for younger woman to experience. This period, surgical or naturally occurring is associated with a decline in ovarian hormone production, primarily estrogen and progesterone along with testosterone. Lower levels of these hormones are not associated with any medical or physiologic advantage. This hormone decline is, however, associated with a whole host of physiologic and quality of life issues including:
- Cognitive decline
- Decreased libido
- Hot flashes
- Increased cardiovascular risk
- Poor skin quality
- Sleep disturbances
- Vaginal dryness
At Northside Naturopathic Family Wholistic Health, PLLC, we seek to responsibly replace these hormones, but only where indicated. Every woman will not need estrogen as part of her program in general. Bio-identical progesterone is extremely important for each woman to consider in my view. Testosterone can often time be a critical part of a BHRT (Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy) program for some women. In sum, each patient who comes in is different and deserves to be evaluated individually to account for differences in their physiology, their symptoms, their family history, and finally, their willingness and desire to begin a suggested program of BHRT.
Please note that to ensure a complete response with any patient seen here a complete hormone evaluation should be done. This includes looking at adrenal, thyroid, and ovarian hormone activity in addition to an evaluation looking at basic organ function, anemias, and nutrient deficiencies, like Vitamin D levels, in every patient. Some of this is done through blood while other parts are best done through saliva testing.
Perimenopause It can start at 35 or 45 but eventually for each of you progesterone levels will start to decline. This is the first phase of the hormonal decline transition that will lead to menopause. Congratulations! You are now in perimenopause! I have had some women wince when I use the term with them. It’s just a description of a normal physiologic process. If progesterone is the first hormone to decline, the symptoms will be:
Anxiety Carbohydrate cravings Decreased libido Difficulty falling asleep Headache Increased breast cancer risk Increased menstrual cramping Night sweats Shorter menstrual cycles (less than 28 days) Water retention
This will often result in resolution of most of the above symptoms and will confer on each patient a decrease in breast cancer risk.
If estrogen is the first hormone to decline, the symptoms will be, but are not limited to:
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Hot flashes
- Water retention
- Weight gain around the center
Initial Evaluation At your initial visit we will spend an 60-90 minutes together discussing your situation, your goals and how aggressive you want to be in dealing with your situation. We need to discuss things you have tried before and how you responded. There is no ‘one way’ to deal with any situation and each patient has limits as to what they are willing to do in dealing with transition. I need to see where YOU are. We will see what interventions, hormonal and nutritional seem indicated and then see how aggressive you want to, or can be in dealing with your situation.
Your path and needs may be as simple as appropriate nutritional supplementation. Alternatively, you may want to be as sophisticated as to enroll in the Wiley protocol to really micromanage your hormone levels. This requires a great deal of work. Each of you is different. Our approach at Northside Naturopathic reflects this fact. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Is This Program For You?
If you are middle aged the answer is most definitely yes. However, there are several requirements for success with our program:
- A commitment on your part to follow up and keep appointments
- A commitment to communicate with the doctor and staff regarding issues that may arise as we find the ‘right’ blend for YOU!
- An ability to grasp the concepts of an anti-aging approach
- Patience for result…Rome was not built in a day!!!
- The financial ability to go outside of your insurance coverage to access this level of care
Without these elements, you are likely to become frustrated with what is required for maximum results and waste your money and our time. Think carefully about this before deciding to come in.
Why Consider Hormone Replacement? Here is the scoop that you frequently won’t hear from most doctors: “We age because our hormones decline, our hormones do not decline because we age.” The hormones that keep us youthful, vital, full of energy and healthy are all designed to allow us to propagate the species. This is a tough concept to get your mind around but it is central to any discussion about the merits of a carefully crafted hormone replacement regimen for any of us in mid-life.
After our childbearing and child-rearing years, ‘nature’ really has no evolutionary role for us and these hormones start to decline decade by decade. We have outsmarted nature’s plan for us with our ability to think, alter our environment, protect ourselves from the elements, fashion weapons, create medicines, perform surgical procedures, and generally control our environment in a way that now allows us to live far beyond what a ‘normal’ life expectancy was centuries ago.
Most importantly, this hormone decline serves us no identifiable medical purpose or benefit!! So why would we not consider a model for responsibly replacing these hormones as we age? Do we not offer insulin to the diabetic? Do we not offer thyroid replacement to those who have had irradiation and produce NO thyroid hormone? Why then, do we balk at the idea of treating a ‘relative’ decline in these hormones as we age? As with other disciplines steeped in tradition, conventional medicine is slowly starting to recognize the reasonableness of this approach as more and more knowledge accumulates about the real safety and health and quality of life benefits that this approach can offer us. At Northside Naturopathic, Dr. Grady is trying to stay ahead of the curve… Call today to set up your appointment. Take control of your health and your quality of life!!