Originally Posted December 2016
Updated July 2019
Hormone imbalances, particularly those brought on by menopause, cause a significant number of women, 70 – 85%, to experience hot flashes with varying degrees of severity. Hot flashes, or sudden changes in body temperature, can last between one to five minutes and produces sensations of heat in the upper body. Flushness of the face and neck, blotches on the chest, back, and arms, and heavy sweating or shivering may also occur. Hot flashes that happen while sleeping may result in night sweats and premature waking, which can contribute to a reduction in sleep quality.
On average, menopause occurs at about 50 years of age. However, women can experience hot flashes and menopause-like symptoms as early as their 20’s due to hormonal imbalances and fluctuations!
When a woman experiences night sweats and hot flashes the body is trying to say that there is a hormone imbalance somewhere that needs to be resolved. If left unanswered, more severe symptoms and complications may occur that could otherwise be avoided.
One of the most common causes of severe hormone fluctuations and deficiencies is menopause. Reduced hormone levels are expected during menopause, but if they are left unchecked, it can cause this transitional time to be incredibly difficult and frustrating.
This naturally occurring phenomena is recognized when a woman goes an entire year without experiencing her period. Even if she experiences her period after eleven and a half months, she is still considered to be premenopausal.
The transition into menopause brings with it a lot of hormonal fluctuation that can significantly impact daily life. In some cases, women are so encumbered by menopausal symptoms that everyday tasks become challenging or seemingly insurmountable! Furthermore, this can lead to feelings of inadequacy and even depression.
Other symptoms associated with menopause include:
- Musculoskeletal symptoms
- Feeling achy
- Weakened muscles
- Thinning of the skin
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Reduced cognitive function
- Continued memory loss
- Mental disorders
- Reduced bone regeneration
- Increased urination with stress
- Incontinence while coughing and/or sneezing
- Potential for bladder prolapse
Hormones and Menopause
The degenerative effects of menopause as shown above are primarily due to deficiencies of two important hormones. Progesterone and estrogen deficiencies are recognized as the most prominent instigators of menopause discomforts. Both of these hormones are critical in the reproductive cycle and help stabilize mood, emotions, and promote good mental health. Unfortunately, if they fall out of balance they can cause havoc in the body.
Estrogen provides a great deal of benefits such as defending the body against heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, memory disorders, and vaginal disorder. When you have an estrogen deficiency you may experience sagging skin and breast tissue, fatigue, depression, and reduced libido.
Estrogen levels slowly decrease with age and drop significantly with the occurrence of menopause. By keeping estrogen levels balanced along with progesterone, you can severely reduce the intensity of regular periods as well as menopausal distress.
As a necessary element for the production of estrogen and other important hormones, progesterone is significant when discussing menopause. This hormone acts as an estrogen regulator and protects the body from breast and uterine cancer, osteoporosis, and fibrocystic disease. Without progesterone menstruation and reproduction would be impossible.
Reduced levels of this critical hormone causes women to experience increased PMS symptoms such as anxiety, depression, weight gain, poor sleep, and bloating.
It is clear to see that not only do hormones play important roles in keeping the body functioning properly, but they are also useful in reducing menopausal troubles and difficulties. But how does a woman maintain proper hormone levels when the body is experiencing so many shifts and fluctuations?
Avoid Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Previously, hormone replacement therapy was the standard for treatment of menopause or those who had hysterectomies. This method relies on synthetic hormones that are molecularly different than those produced by the body.
Premarin (the synthetic form of estrogen, formulated from the urine of pregnant horses) and Provera (the synthetic form of progesterone, used for oral contraception, which is counterintuitive as natural progesterone is required for conception) are the most commonly used elements in hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, because these hormones are molecularly different than those found in the body they are never fully recognized or accepted.
A study conducted by the Women’s Health Initiative showed that use of these synthetics greatly increases the incidence of cancer, stroke, heart disease, dementia, blood clots, and breast cancer. Severe hormonal imbalances innately increase the risk for these conditions and by utilizing these synthetic hormones for treatment you are increasing the risk even further!
Although synthetic hormone usage has dropped severely, because of studies such as the one above, they are still used. At present, synthetic hormones are almost exclusively prescribed for short periods and for specific circumstances because doctors have greater awareness of the severe side effects that come with their use.
Pursue Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT)
It has been found that the most effective way to combat hormonal fluctuations for those going through menopause is Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy. This treatment relies on hormones derived from plants that are naturally produced. Because the hormones used in this treatment are structurally identical to those made by the body they are easily accepted and utilized.
Additionally, BHRT is created with a compounding pharmacy, which provides greater flexibility of dosage and delivery modes. This is highly beneficial because hormone issues are individualistic and require unique treatment for each case.
In contrast to HRT, the bioidentical treatment is actually beneficial when used for extended periods. Long-term usage of BHRT has been shown to help maintain bone density, decrease incidence of breast and uterine cancer, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, and help prevent dementia. In addition to these major benefits, BHRT is able to help relieve some more common issues that come with hormone imbalances.
BHRT specifically treats and helps resolve:
- Mood swings
- Mental fog
- Panic attacks, anxiety, and depression
- Low libido
- Hair loss
- Vaginal dryness
- Poor sense of well-being
- Weight gain
- Muscle mass
- Bone density
- Night sweats
- Hot Flashes
- Painful Intercourse
Even if you’re not going through menopause, pursuing BHRT can help in a number of other areas. As mentioned before, maintaining proper hormone balance is not only important when experiencing times of hormonal distress but also promotes better overall health.
Watch this interview with Dr. Holtorf to learn more about the safety and efficacy of BHRT.
Locating a BHRT Doctor
If left unaddressed, menopause symptoms can bring about hardship and significantly degrade overall wellness. Seeking out a qualified doctor that understands that not all hormone replacement therapies are equal and utilizes bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is vital.
At Holtorf Medical Group, we are experts in natural, prescription bioidentical hormone replacement and optimization to address your perimenopause and menopause symptoms. If you are experiencing symptoms of perimenopause/menopause, but aren’t getting the treatment you need, call us at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!
1. Kent Holtorf, MD. “The Bioidentical Hormone Debate: Are Bioidentical Hormones (Estradiol, Estriol, and Progesterone) Safer or More Efficacious than Commonly Used Synthetic Versions in Hormone Replacement Therapy?” https://www.holtorfmed.com/download/natural-hormone-replacement/The_Bioidentical_Hormone_Debate.pdf
2. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Hormone Study Confusion.” https://www.holtorfmed.com/download/natural-hormone-replacement/Hormone_Study_Confusion.pdf
3. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Natural (Bio-identical) vs. Synthetic HRT.” https://www.holtorfmed.com/download/natural-hormone-replacement/Natural_vs_Synthetic_HRT_Literature_Review.pdf.
3. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Breast Cancer and BHRT.” https://www.holtorfmed.com/download/natural-hormone-replacement/BHRT_and_Risk_of_Breast_Cancer.pdf.