Understanding Perimenopause and Menopause
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Perimenopause/Menopause

Feel like you are going crazy? Living with perimenopause or menopause symptoms can make a normally “sane” woman feel “insane”. The imbalance of hormones which occur during this time can have a very dramatic impact on our ability to manage even the smallest tasks within our daily lives. Unfortunately, this can happen at a point in our life when we have so many things to juggle such as marriage/significant relationship, children to care for,a very demanding career, or aged parents who also need help. Hormone imbalance affects our ability to function normally, making us feel inadequate to handle the demands within our lives and sometimes even causing depression to occur.

In past generations many grandmothers, mothers, and even daughters did not openly discuss the emotional or physical changes which hormone imbalance can create at any time in our life. Hormones play a big part in our physical and mental well-being. Pregnancy and PMS can create uncomfortable symptoms temporarily. Perimenopause and menopause, however, are not temporary conditions and can have some devastating effects both physically and mentally. Thankfully, today we are more open to sharing our symptoms with our doctor and family with more women are actively seeking treatment which can provide for a much happier more optimal life.

We Can Help You!

At Holtorf Medical Group our doctors are specially trained to diagnose and treat the symptoms caused by perimenopause and menopause. Don’t live with these symptoms which is causing such “craziness” any longer. Consult with your doctor or call a patient representative at (877-508-1177) and let us help you.

What is a Healthy Menstrual Cycle?

A healthy menstrual cycle occurs when a woman gets her period regularly. Day 1 of the cycle begins the moment which vaginal bleeding occurs and can last three to five days. On Day 1, estrogen production starts, with levels increasing each day until Day 14 when ovulation occurs. Ovulation is when the egg is released from the ovary, with the ovaries alternating each month in providing the egg.

The egg itself produces progesterone. Up until ovulation on Day 14, only estrogen was being produced. With the release of this progesterone producing egg, the levels of progesterone start to rise while estrogen levels begin to decline. Unless fertilization of the egg occurs between Days 9 and 15, the uterine lining will be shed again during menstruation at 14 days post ovulation. At which time the cycle begins again.

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause is the result of when ovarian function decreases in its production of estrogen, the ovaries stop ovulating regularly, or the ovulation of the egg is suboptimal. The word peri means “around”, which describes a time between a healthy cycle and actual menopause. Perimenopause can last from six months to ten years prior to the occurrence of menopause.

What Causes Perimenopause?

Estrogen is a woman’s life form providing our femininity and curves. Progesterone is a hormone which provides a “ceiling” by keeping estrogen in check. The balance of these hormones are very important in helping us cope with life.

These hormones also affect our brains. Progesterone produces, a calming neurotransmitter and is also helpful in the prevention of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Estrogen produces serotonin, a “feel good” neurotransmitter, and is what SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants target when prescribed. While treatment with antidepressants can have a positive outcome, it is far better to find and treat any physical source which may be creating the depression. Eliminating the diagnosis of imbalanced hormones, adrenal fatigue, or thyroid issues can be extremely beneficial and an antidepressant may not be needed.

What are the Symptoms of Perimenopause?

When the ovaries fail to produce enough estrogen prior to ovulation, or an aged egg produces too little progesterone, the effects on our body can be monumental. Estrogen and Progesterone deficiencies produce different symptoms.

Symptoms of a progesterone deficiency include:

  • Periods are heavier
  • Periods can be longer
  • Periods become closer together
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness or enlargement
  • Cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability, rage, anxiety, emotional lability similar to PMS
  • Insomnia

Symptoms which appear when estrogen deficiency happens:

  • Shorter periods
  • Missed periods
  • Feel “bone” tired all the time
  • Middle of the night “sweats”
  • Hot flashes
  • Weepiness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased urination
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Painful intercourse
  • Increase in bladder or yeast infections
  • Acne
  • Osteoporosis
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Memory loss

What is Menopause?

Menopause is defined when a complete year has passed since your last period. Even if a woman hasn’t had a period for eleven months, if a period should occur, we start the count all over again. Getting a period within a twelve month period indicates that ovulation can still occur and pregnancy could still happen. It is often times during this period of time when the “oops” pregnancy occurs.

What are the Symptoms of Menopause?

Menopause has many of the same symptoms which occur during perimenopause, however, this is when degenerate effects to our body begin to occur due to the progesterone and estrogen hormone deficiencies. These include:

  • Musculoskeletal symptoms
  • Feeling achy
  • Weakened muscles
  • Skin becomes thinner (looking older or younger has been associated with estrogen levels)
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cognitive function decreases
  • Continued memory loss
  • Mental disorders can occur (Alzheimer’s or Dementia)
  • Regeneration of bone cells significantly decrease (source of broken hips)
  • Increased urination with stress incontinence while coughing/sneezing
  • Potential for bladder prolapse

How is Perimenopause/Menopause Diagnosed?

You may be asked to track your symptoms and record when they occur. Your doctor will order a complete blood workup to assess your hormone levels and may also check for any other contributing factors, such as adrenal dysfunction or thyroid issues.

Is Bioidentical Hormone Treatment Right for Me?

Premarin, the synthetic form of estrogen and Provera, the synthetic form of progesterone is prescribed by many doctors for hormone replacement treatment (HRT). These hormones should only be prescribed for short term use due to their negative effects on the body. Many extensive studies have been done on these two drugs, including one by the Women’s Health Initiative, and some studies were even halted before completion. This was due to the quick conclusion in which these drugs significantly increased the incidence of cancer, stroke, heart disease, dementia, serious blood clots (lungs or legs) and breast cancer, especially in women who smoked.

Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) has been found to be a much safer and effective treatment for symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause. These hormones, which are derived from plants, are structurally identical to the hormones produced by the human body. Long term BHRT treatment is highly encouraged due to it’s exceptional results in maintaining bone density, decreasing incidence of breast or uterine cancers, lowering the incidence of heart disease (stroke), and prevention of dementia.

Discuss with your doctor how BHRT therapy can benefit you or call our patient representative at 877-508-1177 for more information.