Menopause and Hormones


Is The Menopause An Illness?

No, it is definitely not an illness! There is however still a view adopted by some people that it is a disease rather than a natural event. Way back in 1966, Robert O. Wilson, MD published what became a best selling book, Feminine Forever. He wrote “Many physicians simply refuse to recognize menopause for what it is – a serious, painful, and often crippling disease.”

He was an ardent promoter of HRT (hormone replacement therapy now more often known as HT or hormone therapy) and his influential writing reinforced the idea that menopause is a disease that needs to be “cured” by supplying hormones.

Current forms of HRT such as body identical and bio identical hormones are thought to be much safer than those used in the study trials of the late nineties/early noughties. For some women HRT is life changing whilst other women prefer to look for alternatives.

What is the Alternative to HRT?

Maybe you have weighed up the risks and decided you want an alternative to HRT.  A useful starting point is to look at the menopause as a natural transition rather than a deficiency disease. The hormonal flux of the menopause is inevitable but symptoms are not. The focus then shifts to strengthening your body both physically and mentally to build up resilience to the changes taking place. It’s a bit like navigating a stormy sea with a strong, water tight boat rather than a battered, leaky one!

Diet and nutrition play a very important role in creating this resilience. Blood sugar balance, less than optimal levels of specific vitamin and minerals, antioxidant status, gut health and food intolerances, inflammation, less than optimal functioning of the adrenal and thyroid glands and being over or underweight can all disrupt hormone balance and are factors to consider and manage.

What Happens at the Menopause?

Not so long ago “The Change” was a taboo subject. Your Doctor suggested that you put up with it and your family tolerated your erratic moods with a mixture of embarrassment and bewilderment. The menopause and its seemingly inevitable catalogue of unpleasant symptoms wasn’t something that you talked openly about with your friends either. Thankfully, these days there is a lot less secrecy and mystery surrounding the menopause.  But there is still quite a lot of information that you may not be aware of.

Menopause in its literal sense means the last menses or period. It is defined medically as not having had a period for a year. The medical term for what is commonly referred to as the menopause, is in actual fact the peri-menopause, a phase which can last 10 years or more, in which the hormones are fluctuating and symptoms are occurring.

Menopause Symptoms

During the peri-menopause, progesterone usually drops first followed by decreasing oestrogen. Periods can stop suddenly, become heavier or lighter or the cycle can shorten or lengthen. The levels of FSH will keep increasing in order to try and stimulate the ovaries to produce oestrogen.

The main symptoms that can be experienced are hot flushes, insomnia, weight gain, reduced libido, mood swings, loss of bone density, vaginal dryness, loss of skin elasticity and tone, dry eyes, headaches, and fatigue.

As discussed, how well you cope with the hormone fluctuations of the menopause, depends on your overall health and resilience.  Working on your nutrition is a very important part of this.

Read more …  Menopause Help – 4 Ways to Thrive

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