Bioidentical Hormone Therapy for Women
Menopause and Perimenopause
Columbus Menopause Doctors specialize in helping women suffering from the symptoms of Menopause. Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when she stops menstruating and can no longer become pregnant. This change is brought on by a decrease in production of the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone by the uterus. Menopause is a natural state that all women go through. The average age of women that have experienced menopause is 51, although some women go through menopause in their early 40’s and some as late as their mid to late 50’s. In order to be considered in menopause, menstruation must have ceased completely for 1 year, up until that point, pregnancy is possible. Menopause and the time leading up to menopause (i.e., perimenopause) can be a positive period for some women with the decrease in hormone levels having little effect, but for others, the changes can have a substantial impact on their physical, mental and emotional health.
The time leading up to menopause (i.e., perimenopause) is usually when women start to notice the changes in their bodies and the symptoms that often disrupt their lives. It’s not uncommon for symptoms to last as long as 10 years after a woman stops menstruating (i.e., postmenopause), though symptoms are less severe and less frequent.
The symptoms of Menopause include:
- Thinning hair and hair loss
- Hair loss can have many causes. These include genetics, stress (excess cortisol), thyroid disease and hormonal imbalance. The hormonal imbalance is due to the relationship between testosterone and DHT. DHT causes the hair growth period to shorten and the resting period to lengthen, resulting in thinning and shorter hair in some areas.
- another common symptom of menopause is increased fatigue. Women often complain about a persistent feeling of being tired and a lack of energy and motivation. Low DHEA levels in addition to low testosterone and high cortisol levels can lead to many health problems, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Osteoporosis and Muscle Loss
- Are commonly associated with menopause and hormonal imbalance, mainly high cortisol and estrogen levels in addition to low testosterone. Balancing these hormones has been known to increase muscle mass and lead to stronger bones.
- Hot Flashes
- Hot flashes are sudden and intense feelings of warmth over the face, neck and chest. Some women experience them a few times a week, but some experience them several times a day. A number of conditions cause hot flashes, including hyperthyroidism (an over-active thyroid), low blood pressure, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), but most often in women, menopause is the cause.
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
- A urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of the urinary tract (i.e., kidneys, uterus, bladder, and urethra). The most common UTI involves the bladder and urethra. Women in any of the stages of menopause often notice an increase in frequency of UTI’s.
- Mood swings
- Are unprovoked, sudden changes in mood or inappropriate responses to an occurrence or event. Estrogen helps regulate serotonin (e.g., a mood hormone) and when estrogen levels fluctuate during menopause, serotonin levels and mood fluctuate accordingly.
- Depression is commonly associated with deficient testosterone levels. In one study it was found that those with low levels of this testosterone were as much as 400% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those with adequate levels of testosterone. In addition, when levels of estrogen, progesterone, and cortisol are imbalanced, women tend to experience depressive symptoms like disinterest, feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, irritability, fatigue and abnormal sleep patterns. Low thyroid levels, or hypothyroidism, may also contribute to depression. This is due to the low levels of the thyroid hormone T3 that decreases serotonin (i.e., the happy hormone), an essential neurotransmitter for moods and behavior.
- Trouble sleeping
- Estrogen helps regulate sleep in women. When levels of estrogen decrease, sleep patterns often become disrupted. Low levels of testosterone can also cause sleep issues such as sleep apnea and snoring. Hormone replacement has been shown to improve sleep and decrease severity of sleep apnea and snoring.
- Vaginal dryness
- Vaginal dryness is caused by the thinning and inflammation of the vaginal walls due to low estrogen levels. It’s common for women during and after menopause and can lead to decreases in libido and decreased sexual sensitivity.
- Decreased libido
- Low levels of testosterone are linked to decreased libido in men and women. Testosterone is responsible for sexual stimulation, strength of orgasms, and as a result, low testosterone can cause low libido. Balancing the levels of testosterone, estrogen and progesterone can increase libido and decrease other symptoms of menopause like vaginal dryness and vaginal atrophy.
- Urinary incontinence
- Is loss of bladder control. It’s quite common in aging men and menopausal women. Frequency and severity vary from person to person. Lifestyle changes and medical procedures can help those suffering find relief.
- Irritability and Anxiety
- Irritability and anxiety are generally thought to be the result of high cortisol levels and low levels of testosterone, though high estrogen levels can also be the cause. High cortisol levels diminish the amount of free testosterone in the blood stream, leading to increased estrogen levels and irritability. Women who are irritable or anxious may appear angry, tense, frustrated, sad, demanding, hostile, impatient, defensive and antagonizing.
- Night sweats
- Night sweats in women can be a signal of hormonal imbalance. It’s generally believed that the hypothalamus receives false signals that the body is overheating and begins to release the excess heat. Since the body is not overheating, night sweats can occur. This is brought on by an imbalance of low testosterone levels and high cortisol levels.
- Weight gain
- Weight gain during menopause is due to changing levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. The decrease in the production of estrogen by the ovaries induces the body to seek estrogen in other places. Estrogen is also found in fat cells, so the body converts calories into fat and weight gain results. When levels of progesterone are low, it causes the body to retain water and the feeling of bloating can result. In addition, when levels of testosterone are low, metabolism slows down and women gain weight. Balancing these hormones can reduce weight gain and other symptoms associated with menopause.
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