Every woman who has had a menstrual cycle in life knows that one day will come when she will experience menopause. This is a natural, biological occurring process defined as the twelve months after a woman’s last menstrual period, marking the end of menstrual cycles. Generally, menopause occurs in women in their fourth or fifth decade of life. In the United States, the average age, at which the menopause symptoms start occurring in women is 51. For many women the biggest advantage of menopause is that they no longer have to worry about becoming pregnant. A woman can still maintain a healthy sexual life. Though the estrogen levels in a woman’s body decrease substantially with elevated FSH levels, with hormone replacement therapy, she may decrease some of the menopausal symptoms. Menopause is a life changing process for some women and may cause anxiety and depression, so seeking medical attention is very important.

Some of the menopause symptoms or the time leading to menopause include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness (low estrogen levels)
  • Hot flashes
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood swings
  • Increased weight
  • Slowed metabolism
  • Thinning hair
  • Dry skin
  • No breast fullness

Moreover, though menopause is a natural biological process, there are other causes as well:

  • Natural: Decline of a woman’s reproductive hormones. Ovaries being to make less estrogen and progesterone by one’s late 30s.
  • Hysterectomy: Surgical removal of the uterus.
  • Chemotherapy or Radiation: For cancer.
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency: Ovaries fail to produce normal levels of reproductive hormones necessary to maintain a menstrual cycle.

After menopause, there are certain disease processes a woman becomes more susceptible to. With the declining estrogen levels, a woman is less protected. These diseases include:

  • Cardiovascular disease – heart and blood vessel diseases: estrogen levels decline.
    • Patients should be advised to maintain their cholesterol levels and blood pressure levels.
  • Osteoporosis – bones become brittle and weak.
    • Patients are susceptible to fractures and should take appropriate precautions.
  • Urinary incontinence – vagina and urethra lose elasticity
    • Patients may have strong urge to urinate → urge incontinence
      • Loss of urine with coughing or laughing.
    • Patients should be given appropriate treatment if need be.
  • Sexual dysfunction – due to decreased estrogen there is vaginal dryness and this may not be directly related to libido, but there may be discomfort.
    • Patients should be made aware of these issues.
  • Weight changes – most menopausal women gain weight.
    • Patients should be advised to exercise regularly.

Establishing a diagnosis is really simple, by one of two ways:

  1. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen (estradiol) →
    1. Menopause has elevated FSH and low estrogen.
  2. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) →
    1. Hypothyroidism causes similar symptoms to menopause.

Lastly, there are treatment options available if a perimenopausal woman desires them or is a candidate:

  • Most commonly used – hormone therapy – estrogen is most effective in alleviating symptoms; estrogen prevents bone loss and benefits the heart.
  • Vaginal estrogen – directly applied to the vagina, it can decrease dryness and improve discomfort during intercourse.
  • Low dose anti-depressants – for patients who have hot flashes associated with their menopause.
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin) – reduces hot flashes as well.
  • Drugs for osteoporosis.
  • Lifestyle changes:
    • Women should dress in layers to reduce hot flashes discomfort.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Find the triggers for hot flashes.
    • Use lubrication for sexual intercourse:
      • K-Y jelly.
    • Appropriate sleep – at least 6 hours a night.
    • Relaxation techniques – stress management.
    • Pelvic floor exercises – Kegel exercise.
    • Balanced diet.
    • Avoid smoking.
    • Regular exercise.
  • Alternative medicines and natural treatments:
    • Phytoestrogens.
    • Bioidentical hormones.
    • Black cohosh.
    • Yoga.
    • Acupuncture.

We, at our Denver Holistic Center, offer menopause symptom relief through out natural treatments. Women residing in Denver can visit our Center if they have any other questions pertaining to the biological process.